Woolwich suspect was arrested in Kenya
Michael Adebolajo (28) was arrested by Kenyan police in 2010
A man stands studying the flowers close to the spot in Woolwich, south-east London, where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered on Wednesday. Photograph: John Stillwell /PA Wire
One of the two men arrested on suspicion of the murder of a British soldier Lee Rigby hacked to death in a London street was arrested in Kenya in 2010, Britain’s Foreign Office said today.
Michael Adebolajo (28) was detained by Kenyan police and British officials provided consular assistance.
Confirmation that Adebolajo was arrested in Kenya could increase pressure on Britain’s security services to set out what they knew about him and whether they could have done more to prevent last Wednesday’s killing.
The Kenyan government had denied yesterday that Adebolajo, born in Britain to Nigerian parents, had ever visited the east African country.
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper published a front page picture which it said showed Adebolajo standing in the dock of a Kenyan court with a group of people who Kenyan media said were accused of seeking training with al Qaeda-linked militant group al Shabaab in Somalia.
Britain’s Foreign Office would not comment further on the photo or his arrest in Kenya.
Meanwhile British counter-terrorism police arrested three people suspected of involvement in the killing of Drummer Rigby.
The killing of the soldier in what the government said appeared to be a terrorist attack has led to angry protests against radical Islam and fears of a possible anti-Muslim backlash.
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (22) are under armed guard in hospital after being shot and arrested by police on suspicion of murder on Wednesday.
The three men arrested yesterday are suspected of conspiracy to murder. London police said two of them were hit by electric Taser guns, but neither needed hospital treatment.
Eight people have now been arrested in connection with the murder on Wednesday of 25-year-old Lee Rigby, who served in Afghanistan. No one has been charged.
Yesterday’s arrests came as Downing Street confirmed the launch of a new terror task force to crack down on extremism.
The group, comprising Cabinet ministers and top police and security service officials, will focus on radical preachers who seek out potential recruits in prisons, schools, colleges and mosques.
British prime minister David Cameron has also announced that the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) will carry out an investigation following the disclosure that the two men suspected of murdering Drummer Rigby were known to MI5.
Witnesses said Adebolajo and Adebowale used a car to run down Drummer Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks in southeast London and then attacked him with a meat cleaver and knives, before being shot by police.
The pair told bystanders they were acting in revenge for British wars in Muslim countries.
French police were investigating whether the stabbing of a soldier patrolling a business district west of Paris yesterday was a copycat crime. The soldier was injured and his attacker fled.
French president Francois Hollande said the exact circumstances of the stabbing were still unclear, although police were “exploring all options”.
Police in the city of Newcastle, northeast England, said up to 2,000 people took part in a demonstration organised by the far-right English Defence League yesterday. Demonstrators shouted “RIP Lee Rigby” and “Whose streets? Our streets?”
Hundreds of people attended a rival protest by an anti-fascist group in the city. Police said both events passed off without major incident.
There have been questions over the role of the British security services in the months leading up to Drummer Rigby’s killing after uncorroborated allegations intelligence officers tried to recruit one of the men suspected of killing the soldier.
A man identified by the BBC as Abu Nusaybah told its flagship news programme “Newsnight” on Friday that Adebolajo was approached six months ago to see if he would work for them as an informant. He said Adebolajo had refused.