'Sickening' killing in Woolwich: what we know for sure so far

May 23, 2013

MI5 will be quizzed in Parliament about what they knew about Michael Adebolajo, a recent Muslim convert, and his co-attacker

MPS AND PEERS on the Intelligence and Security Committee are to investigate how much MI5 knew about the two Muslim converts who killed a British soldier in Woolwich after it emerged today that both men were known to the security service. One of them has been named as Michael Adebolajo. The dead soldier is expected to be named later. After chairing a meeting of the Cobra crisis committee this morning, David Cameron said there would be "no knee-jerk reaction" from the government to what he called a "sickening" killing. "The people who did this were trying to divide us. They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger."

What do we know about the victim? It has now been confirmed that the victim, in his early 20s, was a soldier and that his family have been informed. Eye-witnesses said he was wearing a 'Help for Heroes' T-shirt and most papers have already reported that he was stationed at the nearby Woolwich Barracks and was returning from an army recruitment event in central London when he was attacked.

Was he decapitated? Most reports talk of the man being "hacked to death" after the attackers rammed him with their car. The Times reports that he was then decapitated by his assailants. Other reports say the men "attempted" to behead him.

Who are the two suspects? Neither has been officially named by police – but The Sun has today claimed the man in the black hat, his hands covered in blood and holding a meat cleaver and knife, is called Michael Adebolajo and that both he and his fellow attacker are of Nigerian descent and are recent Muslim converts. Adebolajo, talking in footage shown yesterday by ITN, said in a London accent: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," he says. "The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Are they known to the security services? Home Secretary Theresa May has declined to comment so far. But it has been widely reported today that both men were known to MI5. The Daily Telegraph reports that, according to BBC's Newsnight, "one of the attackers was last year stopped or arrested on his way to join al-Shabaab in Somalia". Simon Israel, home affairs correspondent for Channel 4 News, has tweeted that, according to security sources, both men have featured in investigations during the past eight years.

What are the police doing now? Officers raided a flat on a housing estate in Greenwich, south-east London at 5:30am today and have also searched a property in the Lincolnshire village of Saxilby. According to the Daily Mail, the house is believed to belong to suspect Michael Adebolajo's father, 56-year-old nurse Anthony Adebolajo. A neighbour said: “I know his family have ties to London, but whoever is at this house is very secretive. The curtains are always drawn at the front and the back, I've never seen anybody in the garden, either.”

Was it a 'lone-wolf' attack or should we fear more? BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says this will be one of the most urgent priorities for investigators as they prepare to question the two suspects. "If this was a one-off, self-motivated attack by just two individuals it would be alarming enough," says Gardener. "But the fear for the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, and for the security service, MI5, is whether this could be part of a more orchestrated campaign." Daily Telegraph defence editor Con Coughlin says the Woolwich attack is "straight out of al-Qaeda's terror manual".

How have Muslim leaders responded? Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, from the Muslim Council of Britain, has condemned the murder, saying: "It is a tragic incident where an individual has been set upon, on our streets, in what seems to have been a terrorist attack." He then called on communities to  "continue to work towards harmonious and cohesive co-existence". Suhra Ahmed, of the Islamic Society of Britain declared it to be "a horrific, unforgivable attack, the kind that should be purged from our society".

How has the public responded? A surge in donations has caused the Help for Heroes website to crash, notes the Evening Standard. The military charity was inundated with requests from the public looking to buy its T-shirts after reports that the Woolwich soldier was wearing one when he was attacked.

What about the English Defence League? The Guardian reports how in the hours following the attack about 100 members of the far-right English Defence League converged on Woolwich, chanting anti-Muslim slogans and throwing bottles at police officers trying to control them. EDL leader Tommy Robinson said: "They're chopping our soldiers' heads off… Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It's not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam. Everyone's had enough."

What's being done to protect other soldiers? Security has been increased at barracks across the country. The level of security needed over the medium-term was one of the key talking-points at today's Cobra meeting.

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Cameron is wrong to say every community will condemn these killings not in the muslim community they silently agree with any atrocity perpetrated against any non muslims

the streets of London are awash with hundreds of thousands of such as these. A vast Fifth Column tolerated by the Govt. but who wish the destruction of this country.

"hundreds of thousands"


Who gave him the name Michael? They've taken the evil they have been perpetrating in Nigeria to Britain. This is the kind of horrendous acts they've been unleashing routinely on innocent Christians in Nigeria. Who is trying so hard to divorce this from their religion of "peace"?

Stick to comments about football; it is your intellectual level.

Because of course you know lots of Muslim people, so you can comment with actual knowledge rather than bigoted assumptions? I don't know a single Muslim person who will think that this was anything other than appalling and indefensible.

The home office have lists of radicals,start deporting them all and their families now,close mosques with radical preachers immediately,ignore the EU bleeding hearts and get rid of all the people who threaten our way of life,either Westminster sorts this crisis out or they will be responsible for "vigilante" justice.Also bring back the death penalty for these terrorist scrum.

...a lot of passion has been released in today's comments. It DOES seem that muslims from the Asian countries have a propensity for violence and radicalism and there can be NO excusing such acts of barbarity on our streets.

However, by resorting to verbal abuse and vitriol between ourselves surely we are fuelling the fires of hatred that this act was calculated to stir up? And NO "SandySure" - I think that you are quite wrong to lump together such political entities as BNP, EDL and UKIP - again, I feel, that would be playing into the hands of these vile butchers.

I am a UKIP supporter and I am certainly NOT a racist - BUT I will NOT pander to the Politically Correct lobby by ignoring the Elephant in the Room which is, of course, the seemingly disproportionate numbers of Asian Moslem males who act outside the norms and accepted values of our society. They seem to want to remain beyond the margins of society, filled with resentment and "religious" zeal - in fact, these people ARE murderers and racists - think about it.

Granted - Britain's military presence in Afghanistan is a genuine casus belli for some of these young radicals - after all, I see no Afghan T55's rolling over Westminster Bridge - and passions are inflamed with both sides now becoming polarised.

The probable original cause of resentment by these Asian muslims was the last invasion of Iraq, justified by ill-researched, and sloppy, "intelligence" (to be charitable!).

Both Bush and Blair have an awful lot to answer for and, due to their evangelical spreading of "Democracy" and "Good ol' Religion" all participants in these conflicts, at home, in Iaqa and Afghanistan, continue to suffer.

You may indeed suggest it - someone did years ago, which is why I'm an historian. Don't tar a whole people with the opinions of a few: just as not all white people are Muslim-hating bigots, not all Muslim people are Western-hating Jihadis.

"should we fear more?"

It's not about "us". It's about the victim and the inadequacy of the British justice system, which both denied him the freedom to defend himself and refuses to avenge any murder.

(And yet it tolerates collateral damage in war.)

Ever since the advent of Mohammed & the Muslim religion the Arabic & other muslim nations have regressed before then they were at the forefront of learning

Read up on human history and you find lots of violence. It takes a particularly simple and petty mind to accuse billions of peaceful people of being especially dislikable because they happen to claim to be part of the same religion as a couple of violent lunatics.

And they were not shot to death in a hail of bullets! Perhaps the venerable NY mayor Mr Michael Blomberg and his colleague Mr Ray Kelly NYPD Chief should ask the Met to teach their NYPD counterparts how to shoot to disarm, injure, without killing suspects, or criminals as in this case.