After Wednesday’s gruesome killing and near-beheading of a soldier in the Woolwich section of London, British authorities are preparing for the possibility of copycat attacks from extremist Muslims.
While there are no specific copycat attack threats, the U.K. is being vigilant about extremists being influenced by the Woolwich slaying, according to the Associated Press.
British soldier Lee Rigby was hacked to death in the middle of a Woolwich street in an attack that shocked the country and beyond. Rigby’s alleged attackers, armed with cleaver-style knives and a gun, slashed at his body and posed for pictures next to Rigby’s corpse. Chillingly, alleged perpetrator Michael Adebolajo ordered a bystander to turn on a video camera and said Rigby’s murder was a response to the killings of Muslims.
"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our lands women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you,” said Adebolajo, who was holding two knives. His hands appeared to be covered in blood.
Terror experts warned that the video’s purpose was to inspire copycat attacks, the AP reported. Chatter on Islamic extremist websites has picked up since the London attack, according to the news wire service.
In response to the shocking murder of Rigby, Britain is flooding potential trouble spots with 1,200 officers. It’s unclear exactly where the extra police presence is being deployed.
Rigby, 25, was a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He had a wife and a 2-year-old son.
In a statement, the Manchester native’s family said he was “our hero” and called for privacy.
“We would like to say goodnight, Lee. Rest in peace, our fallen soldier. We love you loads and words could not describe how loved and sadly missed you will be,” the statement read. “Our hearts have been ripped apart from us and everyone is struggling to cope with this tragedy, so we would ask the press to respect our privacy to grieve our son's parting as we try and come to terms."
Adebolajo and the other alleged perpetrator, Michael Adebowale, were shot by police shortly after officers arrived on the scene of the London attack. They were taken to two separate hospitals. Both Adebolajo, 28, and Adebowale, 22, were British citizens of Nigerian descent.
Adebolajo, a convert to Islam, reportedly became radicalized in Britain and sold Muslim extremist literature in Woolwich, according to Agence France Presse.