Two British men of Nigerian descent accused of hacking a soldier to death on a London street in revenge for wars in Muslim countries were known to security services,a source close to the investigation said Thursday.
One man,filmed calmly justifying the killing as he stood by the body holding a knife and meat cleaver in bloodied hands,was named by acquaintances as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo a British-born convert to radical Islam.
So frenzied was the attack,some witnesses thought they were trying to behead and disembowel the victim,who was identified as 25-year-old Afghan war veteran Drummer Lee Rigby. Rigby,who had a two-year-old son,was not in uniform. The bandsman had been working as an army recruiter in London.
Police Thursday said they had arrested a man and a woman,both 29,in connection with the attack. This is a large,complex and fast-moving investigation which continues to develop,” London police said in a statement.
The attack,just a month after the Boston Marathon bombing and the first Islamist killing in Britain since local suicide bombers killed 52 people in London in 2005,revived fears of lone wolves who may have had no direct contact with al Qaeda.
British media said police raided homes of relatives in the city and near the town of Lincoln. Adebolajo and the other man,who may have been born abroad and later naturalised as British,are both in custody in hospitals after being shot by police.
A man called Paul Leech on Twitter said he had been at school in the east London suburb of Romford with the man seen claiming the attack: Michael Adebolajo u make me sick, he wrote. How could someone who was a laugh and nice bloke at school turn out like that. Im ashamed to have known u.
British investigators are looking at information that at least one of the suspects may have had an interest in joining Somalia-based Islamist al Shabaab rebel group allied to al Qaeda,a source said.
Al Shabaab Thursday said such attacks were inevitable and linked the attack to Boston bombing.
An eye for an eye
Michael adebolajo,one of the two suspects,approached a witness recording the scene on video and asked to make a statement:
We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. Your people will never be safe. The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying by British soldiers every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye,a tooth for a tooth… We apologize that women had to see this today,but in our lands our women have to see the same. Remove your government. They dont care about you.
Do you think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street,when we start busting out guns? No,its going to be the average guy like you,and your children. So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back,so we can – so you can all live in peace.
As the attack happened
n The grisly attack took place on the edge of Londons sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich,a south London working class district with long-standing historic links to the military.
n Victim was wearing a T-shirt saying Help for Heroes,the name of a charity formed to help wounded British veterans.
n Before being stabbed to death,victim was knocked over by a blue car which then rammed into a lamp-post. The attackers pounced on him in broad daylight in a busy residential street.
n Some onlookers rushed to help the victim and one woman tried to engage one of the attackers in conversation to calm him.
Popular,witty & loving father
Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has been identified as the victim of the brutal attack.
An extremely popular and witty soldier,Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known,liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers, the Ministry of Defence statement said.
Rigby had joined the Army in 2006,and is described as a loving father to his two-year-old son Jack. He will be sorely missed by all.