Kenya did arrest UK army murder suspect

2013-05-26 17:28

Nairobi - A key British suspect in the brutal murder of a soldier in London was arrested in Kenya more than two years ago, Nairobi confirmed on Sunday.

Government spokesperson Muthui Kariuki said Michael Adebolajo had indeed been arrested in late 2010, saying earlier denials had been due to initial confusion as he had been arrested under a different name.

"He was arrested under a different name, a fake name," Kariuki told AFP. "We did not process him, as he was handed over to the local MI5."

Adebolajo was captured on video on Wednesday carrying bloodied knives and a meat cleaver after an attack in London saying he had murdered off-duty soldier Lee Rigby because British troops were killing Muslims.

A Kenyan anti-terrorism police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Adebolajo was arrested and questioned in 2010 over links to Somalia's Shabaab insurgents as he had been in contact with other suspects Kenyan police were tracking in the port city of Mombasa.

The Shabaab are an al-Qaeda linked group fighting in Somalia, but with ties in neighbouring nations including Kenya's Indian Ocean coastal region.

However, Adebolajo was released after about two days due to a lack of evidence.

"I remember the arrest. There were suspects who were being pursued in Mombasa and Adebolajo ended up in custody because he had been speaking to them," the officer told AFP.

"There was no evidence to nail him so he was released, he was interrogated both in Mombasa and Nairobi."

Totally unproven

Kariuki also rejected allegations Adebolajo was assaulted while in Kenyan custody, saying: "Senior members of the intelligence community... denied knowledge of the torture ordeal."

The government spokesperson said Kenya had played no role in his alleged radicalisation.

"The implication that Adebolajo... was somehow radicalised on a short trip to Kenya en route to Somalia remains totally unproven and meaningless," he said.

"The fact that a man passed through Kenya not long ago and then ended up hacking a British soldier to death on a London street is just that - a random fact."

The Shabaab issued a series of Twitter messages after Wednesday's killing, but made no mention of any possible connection to Adebolajo.

"Toulouse, Boston, Woolwich... Where next? You just have to grin and bear it, it's inevitable. A case of the chickens coming home to roost!" one message read, referring to recent attacks in France and the United States, and Wednesday's murder.

"What Cameron describes as a "sickening" attack is what innocent Muslim woman and children are subjected to every day by British troops," another read, referring to British Prime Minister David Cameron.

"The British army has a woeful record of abuses against unarmed Muslims across the globe. It's an eye for an eye, so you can lump it!"

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  kenya  |  security

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