A suspect in the savage killing of a British soldier on a London
street was arrested in Kenya in 2010 near the East African country’s
border with Somalia, an anti-terrorism police official said Sunday.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Michael Adebolajo was believed to have been preparing to train
and fight with the al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabab in
2010 when he was arrested with five others, Kenya’s anti-terrorism
police unit head Boniface Mwaniki told The Associated Press.
The revelations came as London’s Metropolitan Police said
specialist firearms officers arrested another man suspected of
conspiring to murder 25-year-old soldier Lee Rigby. Police did not
provide details about the suspect, only saying he is 22 years old.
The latest arrest followed the detainment in London late Saturday of three others, aged 21 to 28, also suspected in the case.
who has served in Afghanistan, was run over and stabbed with knives in
the Woolwich area in southeast London on Wednesday afternoon as he was
walking near his barracks.
Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale,
22, are the main suspects in the killing and remained under armed guard
in separate London hospitals after police shot them at the scene.
Kenya, Mwaniki said that Adebolajo was deported after his arrest in
2010. However, Kenya’s government spokesman said he was arrested under a
different name, and taken to court before being handed to British
“Kenya’s government arrested Michael Olemindis
Ndemolajo. We handed him to British security agents in Kenya and he
seems to have found his way to London and mutated to Michael Adebolajo,”
spokesman Muthui Kariuki said. “The Kenyan government cannot be held
responsible for what happened to him after we handed him to British
Kariuki said Adebolajo was traveling on a British passport, but he could not confirm if it was authentic.
asked about reports that British embassy officials were involved, a
Foreign Office statement said: “We can confirm a British national was
arrested in Kenya in 2010. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provided
consular assistance as normal for British nationals.”
grieving family visited the scene of his murder on Sunday, pausing for a
few moments in reflection and laying flowers to join the hundreds of
floral tributes already left at the nearby Woolwich Barracks by
The soldier’s gruesome murder has horrified Britain,
partly because it was captured by witnesses’ cellphones. A video picked
up by British media showed one of the suspects, with bloodied hands,
making political statements and warning of more violence as the soldier
lay on the ground behind him.
Hardline Muslim leaders have
identified the man in the video as Adebolajo, an Islam convert who
allegedly used to take part in London demonstrations organized by
British radical group al-Muhajiroun. The group catapulted to notoriety
after the Sept. 11 attacks by organizing an event to celebrate the
airplane hijackers, and was banned in Britain in 2010.
More than 20 supporters of the group have been arrested over
terrorism offenses, including a foiled plot to blow up central London
nightclub Ministry of Sound and a bomb attack on London’s Territorial
Anti-terrorism head Mwaniki rejected allegations that Adebolajo
was tortured while in custody, but said the unit would further
Abu Nusaybah, a friend of Adebolajo’s, has asserted in a BBC
interview that Adebolajo became withdrawn after he allegedly suffered
abuse by Kenyan security forces during interrogation in prison there.
Mwaniki said at the time, there were no indications of torture or abuse.
said dozens of foreign youth are arrested every year attempting to
cross the Kenyan border to join al-Shabab, which claims to be fighting a
jihad or holy war against the Somali government and African Union
Al-Shabab controlled Mogadishu from roughly 2007 to 2011.
The group still dominates most of southcentral Somalia but has seen its
territory reduced after military pushes by African Union and Somali
According to an August U.S. State Department report on
terrorism, al-Shabab continues to maintain training camps in southern
Somalia for young recruits, including Americans who have traveled there
from Somali communities in the United States.
The camps have churned out dozens of bombers who’ve launched attacks in and outside Somalia.
boasts several hundred foreign fighters, mostly East African nationals
and veterans from the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars.
British officials have been on the lookout for security threats originating from Somalia for some years.
a speech in 2010, Jonathan Evans, then head of Britain’s MI5 domestic
security service, warned that “a significant number” of British
residents were training in al-Shabab camps to fight in the insurgency
“I am concerned that it is only a matter of time before we
see terrorism on our streets inspired by those who are today fighting
alongside al-Shabab,” he said.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Stuart Osborne, head of Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism command, said
officers are pursuing CCTV, social media, forensic and intelligence
leads in the investigation. He appealed for anyone who knew the two
attackers to contact police with information.
Hui reported from London.
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