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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid