Khalid Masood first came to the attention of Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, six years ago after returning to the country from Saudi Arabia where he had been teaching English, the Guardian reported on Monday.
The Saudi Embassy in the United Kingdom on Friday confirmed Masood had visited Saudi Arabia three times, including two stints teaching English there. Saudi Arabia, where Wahhabism is widely preached and practiced, stands accused of sponsoring terrorist groups such as Daesh.
But some time before the deadly attack in London on Wednesday, Masood fell off the radar of intelligence officials, the report said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the attacker had previously been investigated by the intelligence agencies but only as a “peripheral” figure.
The 52-year-old taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009 before returning to Luton, Bedfordshire, to teach English.
According to The Sunday Times, Britain’s extremist al-Muhajiroun group, led by imprisoned cleric Anjem Choudary, was active in Luton, and that Masood was loosely connected to people under investigation by British agencies.
But it is not clear how closely he had been monitored by MI5 and why that surveillance had been halted some time before the attack.
It comes as the British police made yet another arrest on Sunday night as part of their investigation into the terror attack.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said, “A new arrest has been made as part of the investigation being carried out by the Met’s counter-terrorism command into the Westminster attack,” which was claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.
The Metropolitan Police said on Sunday a 30-year-old man was apprehended in the central English city of Birmingham "on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts."
A statement published by the Amaq News Agency, which is seen as the terror group's official press service, has said the assailant was a "soldier” of Daesh.