Michael Adebowale sent very graphic messages via social media, which never reported to authorities
A parliamentary investigation into the killing of soldier Lee Rigby has cleared the MI5 of any wrongdoing leading up to his death. The intelligence and security committee’s report concluded that the agency could not have prevented the killing of the soldier on May 22nd last year as he made his way back to his barracks in Woolwich.
The report did, however find that a number of missed opportunities could have led to an increased surveillance of the killers- Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had they been picked up sooner.
It emerged that intelligence agencies had both men under their radar and had various points in the last few years monitored their activities online and on ground, but had not found any substantiative evidence of terrorist activity.
Adebowale had been classified as a ‘high risk’ terror suspect previously, which led to an increase in surveillance of his activities. The Muslim convert was suspected of being a contact for a terror suspect for a terror group in the Arabic peninsula. In addition, in 2012, he had apparently also exchanged messages on Facebook with another terror suspect known as ‘Foxtrot’ with whom he had expressed a desire to kill a British soldier in retaliation for British involvement in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The messages reportedly revealed in graphic detail how he would go about attaining martyrdom by killing a soldier in a less secure part of a country using a knife- an echo of the chilling way Lee Rigby was eventually murdered. The report claims that had these messages been flagged up by Facebook, efforts would have been made to step up surveillance on Adebowale much sooner.
As it turned out, a request to increase surveillance on Adebowale was only approved on the day of the killing by the Home Office, while Adebolajo’s surveillance was reportedly cancelled a couple of weeks before the gruesome killing took place. Other missed opportunities include another in 2013 when a tip to arrest Adebolajo for drug dealing was aborted because his house number was missing by the time the information reached the MI5.
Lee Rigby was killed in 2013 on the streets of Woolwich in broad day light as he made his way to his barracks by Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo. The pair ran him over with their car and then dragged him across the road, where they killed him with a knife. They stayed at the scene after the gruesome crime and attempted to explain to members of the public why they had done what they just did. Both were shot by armed police on arrival as they tried to attack officers on the scene.