Woolwich Murder: Suspect In London Soldier Killing Had Been Arrested In Kenya In 2010

on May 26 2013 11:03 AM

One of the suspects in last week’s murder of a British soldier in London was previously arrested in Africa, the Foreign Office confirms.

The government said Michael Adebolajo was arrested in Kenya in November 2010, and it gave him consular assistance "as normal" for a British subject in such circumstances, the BBC reports.

Adebolajo was believed to have been preparing to train and fight with the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab in Somalia, Boniface Mwaniki, head of Kenya's anti-terrorism unit, told the Associated Press. He said Adebolajo was arrested on an Indian Ocean island near the border with five others and later deported without being prosecuted.

The Kenyan government had previously denied he had ever visited the country, but spokesman Muthui Kariuki said there had been some confusion as he was arrested under a false name.

Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were arrested on suspicion of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London, on Wednesday. They remain in custody in a hospital in a stable condition after being shot and wounded by police at the scene.

Three other men, aged 21, 24 and 28, were arrested in London Saturday night on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder - a Taser was used on two of them, the BBC reports. A 29-year-old man arrested earlier on suspicion of conspiracy to murder was released on bail Saturday.

Rigby, 25, was a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. He had a wife and a 2-year-old son.

Home Secretary Theresa May said "500 officers and others" were working on the case, including counterterrorism officers brought in from elsewhere in the country. Senior government sources have previously confirmed to the BBC that both men arrested at the murder scene were already known to security services.

When asked if there were mistakes made by the security services,  May said: "What we have is the right procedures which say when things like this happen we do need to look at whether there are any lessons to be learned."

In an update on Sunday, Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said officers were examining CCTV footage, social media and forensic material as part of their investigation.

Meanwhile, a special task force is being set up to "look again" at the government's strategy for dealing with extremism and radicalization. It will be chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron and include senior Cabinet ministers and security chiefs.

On Friday, a friend of Adebolajo, Abu Nusaybah, told the BBC the Woolwich suspect traveled to Kenya last year "to study."

But instead, he said, Adebolajo told him he had been detained by "Kenyan troops," interrogated in a prison cell and "beaten quite badly." Kenyan authorities deny torturing him.

Upon his return, Abu Nusaybah said Adebolajo was approached by Britain’s MI5 spy agency, which asked him to work for them -- an overture he rejected.

Immediately after his BBC interview, Nusaybah himself was arrested on "suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism."

Nusaybah is believed to be connected to Muslim extremists formerly in the banned group al-Muhajiroun, the Guardian reports. Counterterrorism officers turned up at reception at the BBC's central London headquarters as his interview was being recorded an hour before it was broadcast. The officers waited, then arrested Nusaybah as he left the BBC's headquarters.

Asked about the unusual sequence of events, the Metropolitan police said: "He was not arrested because of his comments on ‘Newsnight.’" The police would not say what led to his arrest, which BBC insiders said had left them shocked. Police also said he was not arrested in the Rigby murder. Nusaybah's home is understood to be one of two addresses in east London being searched by officers after his arrest.

Members of Rigby's family visited the murder scene Sunday and laid flowers at the Woolwich Barracks where the Fusilier was based.

Prayers were said for him at All Saints and Martyrs Church, Langley, Middleton, Greater Manchester, where he grew up. People of all faiths also attended a memorial service at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Woolwich.

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