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Kenya: UK soldier killing suspect arrested in 2010

Monday - 5/27/2013, 9:54am  ET

In this undated image released Thursday May 23, 2013, by the British Ministry of Defence, showing Lee Rigby known as ‘Riggers’ to his friends, who is identified by the MOD as the serving member of the armed forces who was attacked and killed by two men in the Woolwich area of London on Wednesday. The Ministry web site included the statement "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that the soldier killed in yesterday's incident in Woolwich, South East London, is believed to be Drummer Lee Rigby of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers." (AP Photo / MOD)

TOM ODULA
Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- A suspect in last week's savage killing of a British soldier on a London street was arrested in Kenya in 2010 while apparently preparing to train and fight with al-Qaida-linked Somali militants, an anti-terrorism police official said.

Michael Adebolajo, who was carrying a British passport, was then handed over to British authorities in the East African country, another Kenyan official said Sunday.

The information surfaced as London's Metropolitan Police said specialist firearms officers arrested a man Sunday suspected of conspiring to murder 25-year-old British soldier Lee Rigby. Police gave no other details about the suspect, only saying he is 22 years old.

The arrest brought to nine the number of suspects who have been taken into custody regarding Rigby's horrific killing in London. No one has been charged in the case.

The British soldier, who had served in Afghanistan, was run over, and then, witnesses say, was stabbed with knives by two men 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.

In 2010, Adebolajo was arrested with five others near Kenya's border with Somalia, Kenya's anti-terrorism police unit chief Boniface Mwaniki told The Associated Press. Police believed Adebolajo was going to work with Somali militant group al-Shabab.

A video clip from a local TV station shows a man appearing to be Adebolajo speaking during a court hearing in the Kenyan city of Mombasa on Nov. 23, 2010. He says, "These people are mistreating us. We are innocent. Believe me," shortly before leaving the court with five other suspects.

Mwaniki said that Adebolajo was deported from Kenya after his arrest in 2010. Kenya's government spokesman said he was arrested under a different name, and taken to court before being handed to British authorities.

"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 authorities."

Kariuki said Adebolajo was traveling on a British passport, but he could not confirm if it was authentic.

When asked whether British security agents and embassy officials had handled Adebolajo in Kenya, a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said in a brief statement: "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." She did not elaborate and said she did not have information about what had happened to Adebolajo then.

Rigby's grieving family visited the scene of his killing in London 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 well-wishers.

The soldier's gruesome slaying has horrified Britain, partly because it was captured by witnesses' cellphones. A video picked up by British media showed one of the suspects -- identified by hardline Muslim leaders as Adebolajo -- with bloodied hands, making political statements and warning of more violence as the soldier lay on the ground behind him.

The killing has also fed a spike in anti-Muslim sentiment, with police, politicians, and activists reporting a surge in hate crimes, including violence and vandalism.

A mosque in the northern England town of Grimsby was firebombed Sunday night, according to chairman Diler Gharib, who told a local newspaper he was discussing how to thank his neighbors for the support they had shown his community in the past days when the building was hit with gasoline bombs.

"We have all been feeling on edge and now this has happened," he told the Grimsby Telegraph. Local police said they had made two arrests in connection with the incident.

Adebolajo has been described by his associates as a convert to Islam who used to take part in London demonstrations organized by British radical group al-Muhajiroun. The group catapulted to notoriety after the Sept. 11, 2001, 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 Army base.

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