Tuesday 24 October 2017

Radical suspect known to the police for years

Tom Whitehead London

ONE of the men who took part in the beheading of a British soldier was a known extremist with an open MI5 file.

Michael "Mujahid" Adebolajo was in plain sight all along, spending his days preaching hatred on the streets of Woolwich, where he was a familiar face to many, and turning up at volatile protests all over London.

David Cameron said yesterday that there would be a full investigation by the Security and Intelligence Committee after it emerged that both of the attackers were known to the police and MI5, but neither was assessed as a major security risk. A total of four people including the two men shot by police have now been arrested in connection with the murder of a soldier in Woolwich.

Scotland Yard said a man and a woman, both 29, were held yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder and are being questioned at a police station in south London.

The two men who were shot, aged 22 and 28, have been arrested on suspicion of murder and remain in hospital in a stable condition with non life-threatening injuries.

Drummer Lee Rigby (25), pictured, was hacked to death by two attackers in Woolwich, south east London, on Wednesday. Mr Cameron said that Britain will "never give in to terrorism" and people should stand up to violent extremists by carrying on with their normal lives.

After a meeting of the government's emergency committee, he said the country had been "sickened" by the brutal murder of the fusilier on the streets of London.

However, he said soldiers should continue to wear their uniforms, as the best way of defeating terrorists was to make sure they did not succeed in disrupting the country.

"The people who did this were trying to divide us," he said. "They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.

"One of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives."

Mr Cameron made clear that there was no justification in Islam for the murder, and branded the attacks a "betrayal" of that religion. He said the killing was "solely and purely" the responsibility of the murderers, and cautioned against "knee-jerk responses".

"This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror," he said. Leaders from all political parties and from across the world yesterday condemned the brutality of the Woolwich attack, in which two men tried to behead the soldier with meat cleavers before asking passers-by to take photos.

In video footage, one of the suspects with his hands covered in blood told a witness that the "only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day".

Mr Cameron said the images were "deeply shocking". "Our thoughts are with the victim and with his family," he said. "They are grieving for their loved one, and we have lost a brave soldier."

Nick Clegg added his condemnation. "I think like everybody else I was just actually sickened by the spectacle of these two individuals, horrified about what happened on the streets of London, and a huge sense of sorrow for the family and friends of the victim."

It has emerged thay six years ago Mr Adebolajo was arrested after being involved in violent protests by extremists outside the Old Bailey. He was a regular member of a small group of hardcore fanatics who regularly protested alongside some of Britain's most notorious hate clerics. He was seen preaching anti-Western rhetoric in Woolwich as recently as last week. At one stage he is believed to have tried to travel to Somalia to join the terrorist network Al-Shabaab, but was forced to return to Britain.

Anjem Choudary, the former leader of banned radical group al-Muhajiroun, said Mr Adebolajo regularly attended meetings and demonstrations held by his group and successor organisations. Omar Bakri Mohammed, a hate preacher banned from Britain, claimed he had converted Adebolajo himself.

The disclosure of his close association with some of Britain's most notorious Islamic extremists and his violent past is likely to raise further questions about why he was not deemed a serious threat by the security services.

The bewilderingly violent murder of Drummer Rigby was the culmination of a 12-year period of radicalisation for Adebolajo, a former Christian, which began when he was a teenager and saw several run-ins with the police, including a prison sentence for assault.

Adebolajo (28) is the son of devout Christian Nigerian immigrants who settled in Romford, east London, where Michael and his three siblings were born.

One school friend said: "Michael was into his football and was a Spurs supporter. He was just a normal lad". (© Daily Telegraph London)

Ian O'Doherty ISpy Page 42

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in World News