UK on high alert after attack

2013-05-23 19:38
Lee Rigby (Picture: AFP)

Lee Rigby (Picture: AFP)

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London – The horrific murder of a British soldier, identified as Lee Rigby, has put London on high alert, as fears of attacks by “lone wolf” operators, has become a security nightmare.

Security has been increased at military barracks and installations in the capital, with extra armed guards added in many cases.

Police said extra patrols were added at sensitive areas, including places of worship, transport hubs and congested areas.

Britain's ministry of defence said Rigby, 25, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had a 2-year-old son, Jack.

He joined the army in 2006 and was posted first to Cyprus and later served in Afghanistan and Germany.

Rigby took up a recruiting post with the military in London in 2011.

Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that Britain would not be cowed by the horrific violence, and that it would reject "the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds”.

Indeed, there were few signs of alarm in the British capital, which has been hit by terrorist attacks during a long confrontation with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and more recently by al-Qaeda-inspired attacks.

 “It's hateful, it's horrific and upsetting. But it doesn't seem to have made much of a difference," Christian White, 43, said at King's Cross station, close to the site of a subway bomb in July 2005. "Londoners are used to living in a city where life is complicated."


The two men accused of butchering Rigby in broad daylight in Woolwich, had been part of a previous investigations by security services, a British official said on Thursday.

Investigators searched several locations and tried to determine whether the two suspects were part of a wider plot to instil terror on the streets of London.

The men, suspected of hacking the off-duty soldier to death while horrified bystanders watched, boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence in images recorded on witnesses' mobile phones.

Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, they waited for the arrival of police, who shot them in the legs, according to a passer-by who tried to save the dying soldier.

AP examined the footage to verify its authenticity, cross-referencing images from the scene, aerial shots, the location of a car behind the alleged attacker and the appearance of a body and a car in the background. There was no immediate way for the AP to verify who the cameraman was.

Other images showed the second suspect clutching a long knife as he engaged in conversation with a woman who British media said tried to intervene to prevent further bloodshed.

The woman was identified as Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, 48, and said she confronted the attackers, telling them: "It is only you versus many people. You are going to lose."

Previous investigation

Both suspects in the London attacks had been part of previous terror investigations by Britain's security services, according to a British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about the police inquiry, and cautioned that details could jeopardise future trials.

It was unclear how recent the investigations were or whether the men were loosely tied to other suspects being investigated or whether they themselves had been put under surveillance, which could have included being watched by undercover investigators or having their phone calls and e-mails intercepted.

Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamist now with the London-based Quilliam anti-extremism think tank in London, said the footage of the attack and details emerging, indicated that the men had been inspired by al-Qaeda even though they may not have been directed by any specific affiliate to attack the soldier.

"In this instance, I'm not saying they are operationally linked to al-Qaeda, but these men clearly felt an affinity to this global jihadist zeitgeist. And they wouldn't have had to have visited any foreign countries for this ideology to have resonated with them."

Security officials have been worried over the recent increase of men seeking training and fighting opportunities in countries such as Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

Dozens of British men and women are said to have been radicalised by US-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant leader who was killed in a 2011 US drone strike in Yemen.

Cops response

Police defended the speed of the department's response to the attack.

In a statement, Assistant Commissioner Simon Byrne said police were on the scene nine minutes after receiving the first emergency call. Once it became clear that firearms were involved, firearms officers were called and arrived 14 minutes after the first call to police, he said.

Britain has been at the heart of several terror attacks or plots in recent years, the most deadly being the 2005 rush-hour suicide bombings when 52 commuters were killed. More recently, Parviz Khan was convicted in 2008 of plotting to kidnap and behead a British Muslim soldier in Birmingham.

Muslim religious groups and charities were quick to condemn the attack and urged police to calm tensions. The Muslim Council of Britain called it a "barbaric act that has no basis in Islam," adding that "no cause justifies this murder".

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  david cameron  |  london soldier attack

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