News / Europe

Terror Suspects Were Known to British Police

A picture of victim Drummer Lee Rigby, of the British Army's 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is displayed with flowers left by mourners outside an army barracks near the scene of his killing in Woolwich, southeast London May 23, 2013.
A picture of victim Drummer Lee Rigby, of the British Army's 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is displayed with flowers left by mourners outside an army barracks near the scene of his killing in Woolwich, southeast London May 23, 2013.
VOA News
Senior British officials say the two men detained for the gruesome murder of an off-duty British soldier on a London street had been identified earlier by security teams investigating suspected Islamist extremists.

The victim, a 25-year-old father named Lee Rigby who had served in Afghanistan, died at the scene. The two suspects were shot and wounded by police.

Media reports Thursday cited British Muslim hardliners and acquaintances who identified one of the suspects as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, of Nigerian descent.

Anjem Choudary, head of the banned British radical Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, said Adebolajo had regularly attended sermons by the group's Syrian-born founder Omar Bakri, who was banished from Britain in 2005.

VOA's Hausa Service confirmed that both suspects are British citizens who converted to Islam after being raised as Christians by their African immigrant families.

As the investigation progressed Thursday, British police said they had arrested a man and a woman on suspicion of conspiracy in connection with the case.

Rigby was rammed by a car and then hacked to death Wednesday afternoon near an army barracks in south London. Government officials said one of the attackers shouted "Allahu akbar" - "God is great" - as the soldier lay dying near him.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the killing was an appalling attack on Britain and a betrayal of Islam.

"This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act," Cameron said.

The prime minister also said Britain was "absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror."

"We will defeat violent extremism by standing together, by backing our police and security services and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism," Cameron said.

The two suspects are under guard in a prison hospital.

Witnesses to the attack said the soldier was hacked to death with large butcher knives. British television broadcast a bystander's dramatic video showing a man identified as Adebolajo with blood-covered hands holding a cleaver and a knife.

He criticized the presence of British troops in foreign lands and justified the attack on religious grounds, saying to those around him, "the only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day."

Adebolajo apologized to women and children who witnessed the bloodshed but said, "in our land, women have to see the same."

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the attack, saying "the United States stands resolute with the United Kingdom, our ally and friend, against violent extremism and terror."

In signs of a backlash after the attack, more than 100 angry supporters of the English Defense League, a far-right street protest group, took to the streets late on Wednesday. Separately, two men were arrested in connection with separate attacks on mosques outside London. No one was hurt.

  • A police officer carries an evidence bag containing a knife near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, London, May 23, 2013.
  • Police officers search near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, London, May 23, 2013.
  • The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, speaks to police officers near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, London, May 23, 2013.
  • A wooden cross and a poppy, left as a tribute, are seen near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, London, May 23, 2013.
  • Tributes are seen near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, southeast London, May 23, 2013.
  • A police forensics officer investigates a crime scene where one man was killed in Woolwich, London, May 22, 2013.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs