One has been identified as of Nigerian origin
As initial fears that Wednesday’s gruesome beheading of a serving soldier in a southeast London suburb might be part of a wider terror plot were discounted, one of the two men behind the attack was identified as Michael Adebolajo (28), a British-Muslim convert of Nigerian origin.
Both attackers were believed to be “lone wolves” acting on their own when they hacked the solider to death with machete-style knife while reportedly chanting “Allahu Akbar”, and demanding withdrawal of British troops from Muslim countries, referring to them as “our land”.
The soldier was named as Lee Rigby (25) of the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He leaves behind a two-year-old son.
Minutes after the attack, Adebolajo was filmed brandishing a blood-soaked meat cleaver and warning stunned bystanders, “You people will never be safe…The only reason we’ve done this is because Muslims are dying by [sic] British soldiers every day. This is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Described as a devout Christian before converting to Islam in 2001, Adebolajo was said to be a familiar face in the area, seen handing out extremist literature.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited the scene of the attack in Woolwich, appealed for calm stressing that Islam was not to blame.
“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,” he said.
His remarks came as activists of the far-right English Defence League clashed with police near Woolwich Arsenal railway station and two men were arrested following attacks on mosques.
The Muslim community, previously criticised for not taking a sufficiently strong stand on terrorism, was this time more forthcoming condemning the attack as a “slur” on Islam. “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly,” said the Muslim Council of Britain.
Officials confirmed that both suspects were “known” to security agencies and had featured in several investigations in recent years but were not deemed to be planning an attack.