Published on May 23, 2013
British authorities believe that two men accused of hacking a soldier to death on a London street in revenge for wars in Muslim countries are British of Nigerian descent, a source close to the investigation said Thursday.
Local media named one of the two suspects as British-born, 28-year-old Londoner Michael Adebolajo and said police raided homes of relatives in the city and near the town of Lincoln. Both men involved in Wednesday's attack appeared to have converted to Islam from Christian backgrounds, media said.
Adebolajo and the other man, who may have been born abroad, are both in custody in hospitals after being shot by police.
As security experts highlighted the risk to Western cities of "lone wolf" attacks - similar to last month's Boston Marathon bombing - by local people radicalized over the Internet, Prime Minister David Cameron held an emergency meeting of his intelligence chiefs to assess the response to what he called a "terrorist" attack; it was the first deadly strike in mainland Britain since local Islamists killed dozens in London in 2005.
"We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms," Cameron said outside his Downing Street office.
"This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act."
He noted that security sources have said both suspects had been known to intelligence services and said there would in due course be a routine review of how intelligence had been handled.
One source close to the inquiry said the apparently local backgrounds of the suspects in a multicultural metropolis - nearly 40 percent of all Londoners were born abroad - and the simplicity of the attack made such incidents hard to prevent:
"Apart from being horribly barbaric, this was relatively straightforward to carry out," the source said. "This was quite low-tech and that is frankly pretty challenging."
Anjem Choudary, one of Britain's most recognized Islamist clerics, told Reuters Adebolajo, was known to fellow Muslims as Mujahid - a name meaning "warrior": "He used to attend a few demonstrations and activities that we used to have in the past."
He added that he had not seen him for about two years: "When I knew him he was very pleasant man," Choudary said. "He was peaceful, unassuming and I don't think there's any reason to think he would do anything violent."