The second man behind Wednesday’s killing of a British soldier in London was on Friday identified as Michael Adebowale (22), a Muslim convert of African descent — like his accomplice Michael Adebolajo — while intelligence agencies warned of “copycat” attacks with one security source quoted as saying that “this is the sort of thing that can go from flash to bang in a very short time”.
Intelligence services faced criticism for allowing the two men to slip through the net after it emerged that they had them on their radar but did not consider them a security threat.
Adebowale was reported to be staying with his girlfriend in her flat in Greenwich, close to Woolwich, the southeast London suburb where the soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby (25), was killed after being attacked with a machete and knives.
A neighbour said that Adebowale had been staying there for “at least the last three weeks”.
“I was so shocked when I saw his picture on the television. I used to see him coming and going and would say hello. He seemed perfectly pleasant,” he said.
Another neighbour Madeline Edwards said that Adebowale “disappeared” for a few months after being involved in “gangland trouble” and when he returned he wore a long white robe and a skullcap.
Both the suspects remained under armed guard in separate London hospitals where they are being treated for “non-life-threatening” gunshot injuries. Police raided several addresses and made a number of arrests..
Muslim and Christian leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a joint appeal for communal harmony amid reports of attacks on mosques. Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra of the Muslim Council of Britain called on “all our communities — Muslim and non-Muslim — to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail” as Muslims across the country used Friday prayers to condemn terrorism.
In an emotional tribute to her husband, the wife of the murdered soldier said that she expected him to be safe in his own country.
“You don’t expect it to happen when he’s in the U.K. You think they’re safe,” said Rebecca Rigby.