Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 July 2015

Woolwich suspects known to banned Islamist organisation Al Muhajiroun and security services

By Cahal Milmo

Published 23/05/2013 | 08:00

Suspects: Two men with knifes at scene of Woolwich attack
Suspects: Two men with knifes at scene of Woolwich attack
Video grab taken from ITV News of a man holding weapons by the scene in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where a man was found murdered.
Video grab taken from ITV News of a man holding weapons by the scene in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where a man was found murdered.
Video grab taken from ITV News of a man holding weapons by the scene in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where a man was found murdered.
Video grab taken from ITV News of a man holding weapons by the scene in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where a man was found murdered.
Video grab taken from ITV News of a man holding weapons by the scene in John Wilson Street, Woolwich where a man was found murdered.
Police activity close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich.Nick Ansell/PA Wire
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: A security guard directs a police car into Woolwich Barracks on May 23, 2013 in London, England. A British soldier was murdered by suspected Islamists near London's Woolwich Army Barracks yesterday in a savage knife attack. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the 'appalling' attack appeared to be terror related. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Security is tightened around Woolwich Barracks on May 23, 2013 in London, England. A British soldier was murdered by suspected Islamists near London's Woolwich Army Barracks yesterday in a savage knife attack. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the 'appalling' attack appeared to be terror related. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Floral tributes outside The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich as anti-terror police were today preparing to question the two men shot and injured after the Woolwich soldier killing as details about their backgrounds began to emerge
Floral tributes outside The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich as anti-terror police were today preparing to question the two men shot and injured after the Woolwich soldier killing as details about their backgrounds began to emerge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 23, 2013. See PA story POLICE Woolwich. Photo credit should read: Max Nash/PA Wire
Floral tributes outside The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich as anti-terror police were today preparing to question the two men shot and injured after the Woolwich soldier killing as details about their backgrounds began to emerge
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: A general view of a sign outside Woolwich Royal Artillery Barracks on May 23, 2013 in London, England. A British soldier was murdered by suspected Islamists near London's Woolwich Army Barracks yesterday in a savage knife attack. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the 'appalling' attack appeared to be terror related. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Security is tightened around Woolwich Barracks on May 23, 2013 in London, England. A British soldier was murdered by suspected Islamists near London's Woolwich Army Barracks yesterday in a savage knife attack. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the 'appalling' attack appeared to be terror related. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The scene at Woolwich, pictured by @Yusuf_Kayalar/Twitter.
The scene at Woolwich, pictured by @Yusuf_Kayalar/Twitter.
The Royal Artillery Barracks near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wir
The Royal Artillery Barracks near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The closed road on Artillery Place near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The closed road on Artillery Place near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The closed road on Artillery Place near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Police activity close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
The closed road on Artillery Place near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Police activity close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Scenes of Crime Officers at the scene in Woolwich following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A floral tribute close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. A major police operation was launched today after two suspected terrorists murdered a man in the street in broad daylight. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Police activity near a crashed car (rear) with a broken windscreen close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. A major police operation was launched today after two suspected terrorists murdered a man in the street in broad daylight. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Men lay a floral tribute close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. A major police operation was launched today after two suspected terrorists murdered a man in the street in broad daylight. Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Home Secretary Theresa May arrives for a COBRA security meeting in Downing Street on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating an attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and that firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Scenes of Crime Officers at the scene in Woolwich following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Police near to the scene in Woolwich following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Police talk to local residents near to the scene in Woolwich, following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A general view of Woolwich Barracks, near to the scene in Woolwich following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Scenes of Crime Officers at the scene in Woolwich following a major incident in which a man was killed, on May 22, 2013 in London, England. It has been reported that the government and police are treating the attack in Woolwich on a serving soldier as a possible terrorist attack. Police have confirmed that one man has died after being attacked in the street by two men and firearms and knives were involved in the incident. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The Royal Artillery Barracks near the scene in Woolwich, south London where a man was killed and two others were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds following a "serious incident" understood to have involved a serving soldier. Nick Ansell/PA Wire

One of the two men involved in the Woolwich terror attack was known to a banned Islamist organisation and went by the name of Mujahid, The Independent in London has reported.

It was also reported today that the alleged killers, who are under armed guard in different London hospitals, were both known to security services.

Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the group, Al Muhajiroun, confirmed that he had known the man who was seen on video in the immediate aftermath of yesterday's horrific killing waving a cleaver with bloodied hands and making political statements.

Mr Choudary said Mujahid, who he said had converted to Islam in 2003 and was a British-born  Nigerian, had stopped attending meetings of Al Muhajiroun and its successor organisations two years ago. The former solicitor said he had also known "Mujahid" as Michael.

Sources today named one of the suspects as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo.

Mr Choudary told The Independent: “I knew him as Mujahid. He attended our meetings and my lectures. I wouldn’t describe him as a member [of Al Muhajiroun]. There were lots of people who came to our activities who weren’t necessarily members.

“He was a pleasant, quiet guy. He reverted to Islam in about 2003. He was  just a completely normal guy. He was interested in Islam, in memorising the Koran. He disappeared about two years ago. I don’t know what influences he has been under since then.”

Founded in 1983 by Islamist Omar Bakri Muhammad, Al Muhajiroun became notorious for attempting to justify the 9/11 attacks and fomenting Islamist rhetoric in Britain.

Mr Choudary, who has long been a controversial figures in Britain’s Islamist circles, has been an outspoken critic of British military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But he insisted that he had never preached that attacks on British troops or security personnel in Britain were justified.

Mr Choudary said: “My position is clear. There is a covenant which says that in return for Muslims being allowed to live peacefully and practice their faith in Britain, then it is forbidden to attack the British authorities, soldiers, in the UK.

“When people go abroad then the inhabitants of those countries have a right to defend themselves. The biggest aggravating factor we have today is British foreign policy.”

He denied that Mujahid could have been radicalised by his teachings, adding that more extremist material, including the sermons of Yemen-based cleric Anwar Al Awlaki and the Al Qaeda-linked magazine Inspire, have been easily available via the internet.

He said: “If you are saying that you are radicalised by saying that British foreign policy is wrong then there are whole load of other organisations and anti-war groups who have said the same.

“Mujahid left us two years ago. There is plenty of material out there that does not observe the covenant we do that there can be no attacks in Europe. There is Al Awlaki and Inspire. I do not know what sort of material Mujahid could have seen.”

Police said a property in Lincolnshire and another in Greenwich had been searched in connection with the murder.

Sources told The Independent yesterday that the dead man was a member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which is currently based overseas.

The soldier, who has not yet been named, was killed by two suspected Islamists who attempted to behead and disembowel him as he left a barracks.

It is the first deadly attack since the 2005 London bombings.

One of the suspected killers, who addressed an onlooker who had a camera, said the pair had carried out the attack "because David Cameron, [the] British government sent troops in Arabic country".

Video footage of him speaking to camera was published by ITV News yesterday evening.

In response to the attack security at the barracks has been increased and according to Sky News members of the British armed forces have been warned not to wear their uniforms in public until further notice.

Former chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee Baroness Neville-Jones said the security services would today be exploring whether the attack was carried out by a "lone wolf" or by someone with further connections, either at home or abroad.

"Clearly, as in this case the perpetrators are still alive they are going to be questioned. There is going to be a great deal of information available," she said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"There is a much bigger problem, potentially.

"Isolated attacks of the kind we have just seen, of this kind of attack, I'm inclined to think is possibly more in the nature of a lone wolf, is particularly hard to deal with because there are very few outward signs beforehand of the nature the intelligence services can pick up."

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