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