Yesterday, police in London arrested a man who was carrying two knives near the Parliament building on suspicion of planning an attack. Today police revealed he is 27-year-old Khalid Mohamed Omar Ali. According to the Guardian, just a few years ago Ali was a “humanitarian activist” who participated in an aid convoy to Gaza:
Counter-terrorism detectives continued questioning Ali on Friday. He had been under surveillance for weeks by MI5 and the Metropolitan police over concerns he had been lured by violent extremism…
In 2010 Ali joined the Road to Hope convoy taking aid to Gaza, sources have confirmed. He and other volunteers boarded the Strofades IV ship in Libya. The convoy leader, Kieran Turner, said it was apolitical.
Turner said: “The people who were involved with this convoy were the ones who went to really do humanitarian care.”
The activists’ convoy was interrupted when the captain of the Strofades IV kidnapped them for more than a day before eventually depositing them in Greece. This BBC story from 2010 mentions that Khalid Mohamed Omar Ali was one of the people on the ship. He was 21-years-old at the time.
Police had apparently been following Ali after someone in the Muslim community expressed concerns to police about his behavior. When he was arrested near Parliament two knives fell out of his bag. Police later said he had been arrested on suspicion of plotting an act of terrorism. Last month five people were killed in nearly the same location when Khalid Masood drove into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster bridge.
Also Thursday, police raided a home in north London and later said they had foiled an active terror plot. From the Telegraph:
Armed officers raided a property in the Willesden area shortly after 7pm on Thursday evening and a woman in her 20s was shot by police.
Six people were arrested during the operation and police said the woman remained in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Neil Basu, who is the senior national coordinator for Counter Terror Policing said the operation had foiled an “active plot” and he paid tribute to the officers involved.
Though the raid took place only a few hours after the arrest of Khalid Ali, police said the two incidents had no connection.