The London machete attack Wednesday near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich that left a soldier dead and nearly beheaded was as bizarre as it was gruesome. Here’s a timeline of the disturbing murder that sent shockwaves throughout London and around the world, constructed from a statement by London police:
Wednesday, 2:20 p.m. GMT: London Metropolitan Police receives its first 999 call relating to the incident on John Wilson Street in Woolwich. The caller says a man was being attacked. Subsequent calls described two attackers, including one with a gun.
2:24 p.m. GMT: Officers are ordered to the scene.
2:29 p.m. GMT: The first London police officers arrive and find the victim, who is later pronounced dead.
2:34 p.m. GMT: Firearms officers (British police aren't always armed) are “dealing with the incident,” according to Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne of the London Metropolitan Police. The two suspects are shot and then taken to separate local hospitals.
There is no official police timeline for the precise times of the assault and subsequent impromptu confession from one of the alleged perpetrators that was recorded via video camera by a passerby. Authorities also didn’t describe the graphic nature of the incident. But the London machete attack unfurled like this:
According to eyewitness reports, two black men carrying weapons, including machete-style knives and a gun, approached the victim near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and started hacking at the man. Some eyewitnesses reported that the man was beheaded, although this was never verified from police. Others reported the victim bleeding profusely.
As the victim lay motionless, the two men screamed “Allahu Akbar (God is Great)” and posed for pictures next to the body. One of the perpetrators then ordered a passerby with a video camera to turn it on. Holding two knives and sporting what appeared to be blood on his hands, the attacker said the killing represented “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Here are the words of the attacker, later identified by The Guardian as Michael Olumide Adebolajo, a British-born man of Nigerian descent who converted to Islam as a teen:
“The reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting until you leave us alone.
"So what if we want to live by the Sharia in Muslim lands? Why does that means you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us.
"Rather you lot are extreme. You are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person? Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family?
"That is the reality. By Allah if I saw your mother today with a buggy I would help her up their stairs. This is my nature.
"We are forced by (inaudible) through many passages in the Koran we must fight them as they fight us.
"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.
"You think [British Prime Minister] David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our gun, you think politicians are going to die? No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you and your children.
"So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we can all live in peace.
"So leave our lands and we can all live in peace, that’s all I have to say.
"Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you.”