Muslim Killer Of Soldier Was Not Seriously Considered A Threat By UK Authorities Despite Trying To Join Jihad In Somalia
May 26, 2013
Woolwich attack: UK 'took fears over suspected killer lightly'
The British authorities did not take seriously the fact Michael Adebolajo was picked up with suspected terrorists near the Somali border, Kenyan officials claimed tonight.
By Zoe Flood in Mombasa and Tom Whitehead
10:00PM BST 26 May 2013
A senior official, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Telegraph that British staff dealt "very lightly" with the case of Adebolajo in November 2010 after he was deported.
The man accused of killing Drummer Lee Rigby in cold blood in Woolwich on Wednesday was detained in Kenya more than two years ago, after allegedly trying to join the al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia.
He was picked up with a group of other extremists who the Kenyans had been tracking. Officials say that he was later handed over to British intelligence officers, although that is unconfirmed.
The source said that the British authorities were "very much, fully aware" of the Kenyans' concerns about the British national's links to the other suspects.
New evidence last night also raised the possibility of links between Adebolajo and Samantha Lewthwaite, the July 7 2005 "white widow".
A Kenyan security source revealed that Adebolajo had appeared in court there alongside the future son-in-law of the extremist cleric Sheikh Aboud Rogo.
Reports have connected Rogo, who was killed last year, with a Kenyan terror cell that also allegedly included Lewthwaite — the widow of Germaine Lindsay, the July 7 London bomber. Lewthwaite is believed to be a bomb-making instructor in hiding in Kenya, with links to al-Shabaab.
Adebelajo appeared in court with Swaleh Abdul, who two years later married Rogo's daughter.
The possible links between Adebelajo and known or suspected terrorists based in Kenya will increase pressure on the handling of him by MI5 and the police once he returned to Britain. Somalia was seen as a prime destination for would-be jihadists to head for, because of its lack of governance and as it was a stronghold of al-Shabaab.
Two months earlier, the then head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, warned that Britons were travelling there and that it was "only a matter of time" before we could see terrorism on UK streets. The Kenyan government, after dismissing an account of Mr Adebolajo's arrest as "a fairy tale", today acknowledged that it had arrested a man by the name of "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," said spokesman Muthui Kariuki. "The Kenyan government cannot be held responsible for what happened to him after we handed him to British authorities."
This contradicts Daily Telegraph investigations that found that the Kenyan security services have records of the suspect's real name.
The Foreign Office confirmed that a British national was arrested in Kenya in 2010 and was given consular assistance. Live footage of Adebolajo's court appearance emerged today, in which he is heard to say: "These people are mistreating us and we are innocent, believe me."
Friends of the Londoner said he has since claimed that he was abused and tortured while in Kenya.
Abu Zuybyr, Adebolajo's brother-in-law, said: "We [the family] contacted the British Government, and essentially, they refused to do anything, and the Kenyans were saying they were going to kill him — behead him.
"We had clear proof that he was being tortured… violently and sexually.
"It seemed almost as if the British Government were not cooperating in any way with him, or trying to help.
"I would say he's always been different since then. You could almost say he's a changed man in certain ways.
"He was a lot quieter and quite bitter towards the fact that he wasn't getting any help from anyone.
"They did the opposite of what they were doing really.
"If they wanted help, surely they would have given him some support first?"
Adebolajo and his companions were picked up by police on a remote island in the Lamu archipelago.
"They were travelling to Kiunga, which is the boundary between Kenya and Somalia," Ali Bunu, owner of the guesthouse where the men had stayed, told The Daily Telegraph.
Kiunga is known as an entry point to Somalia for al-Shabaab recruits.
Late on Saturday, a cross-border raid on Kenyan police posts by Somali militants left at least six people dead.
Today, police in the port city of Mombasa shot dead a Muslim cleric accused of possessing explosives and radicalising youths in Kenya and recruiting them into al-Shabaab.
The man reportedly shot and injured two police officers before he was killed.
Kenyan police said that Khalid Ahmed had been a close friend of Rogo, the Muslim cleric who was killed in a drive-by shooting last year.