Family of London murder suspect ashamed

2013-05-29 08:00
Boots and floral tributes are left at the scene where Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion was killed outside Woolwich Barracks in London. (Justin Tallis, AFP)

Boots and floral tributes are left at the scene where Drummer Lee Rigby of the 2nd Battalion was killed outside Woolwich Barracks in London. (Justin Tallis, AFP)

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London - The family of a man suspected of hacking a British soldier to death on a London street condemned the attack as senseless on Tuesday, distancing itself from the murder which has provoked an anti-Muslim backlash.

Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old soldier, was butchered in broad daylight by two men who said they killed him in the name of Islam. Police shot and wounded the assailants, both Britons of Nigerian descent, at the scene.

In their first public remarks since the attack on Wednesday, relatives of one of the suspects, Michael Adebolajo, 28, a British-born convert from a Christian Nigerian immigrant family, said they felt ashamed and horrified.

Adebolajo went by the nickname Mujahid - warrior - after taking up Islam as a teenager in a suburb on the northeast outskirts of London.

"Nothing we say can undo the events of last week," the family said in a statement.

"However, as a family, we wish to share with others our horror at the senseless killing of Lee Rigby and express our profound shame and distress that this has brought on our family.

"We wish so state openly that we believe that there is no place for violence in the name of religion or politics," the family said.

"We believe all right thinking members of society share this view wherever they were born and whatever their religion and political beliefs."

The murder has galvanised Britian's small but noisy far-right movement, with more than 1 000 protesters shouting "Muslim killers, off our streets" marching through central London on Monday.

10 arrested

In the northeastern city of Grimsby at the weekend, unidentified attackers threw fire-bombs at a mosque. Similar attacks happened in southern England last week.

Police have arrested 10 people in connection to the murder. The second man shot and arrested at the scene of the crime, Michael Adebowale, 22, was discharged from hospital on Monday and moved into police custody where he was arrested on a separate charge of the attempted murder of a police officer.

Intelligence agencies have come in for scrutiny after uncorroborated allegations by a friend of Adebolajo that officers tried to recruit him six months ago.

Sources close to the investigation have told Reuters the attackers were known to Britain's MI5 internal security service, raising questions about whether it could have been prevented. Adebolajo had handed out radical Islamist pamphlets, but neither of the two men was considered a serious threat, sources said.

Kenyan police said at the weekend that Adebolajo was detained in Kenya in 2010 on suspicion of seeking to train with an al-Qaeda linked group in Somalia.

That will intensify calls for Britain's spy agencies to explain what they knew about the suspect and whether they could have done more to prevent Rigby's killing.

Read more on:    lee rigby  |  london soldier attack

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