More arrests in murder inquiry
Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command and firearms officers arrested three more men tonight in the murder inquiry into the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in the John Wilson street area of Woolwich last Wednesday afternoon. They are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.
Two men, 24 and 28, were detained at a residential address in south east London while a 21-year-old man was arrested in the street in Charlton Lane, Charlton. These developments took place between 6 and 6.30 pm.
The Met Police say Tasers were used in two of the arrests. The detention is under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and not terrorism legislation. This limits the time they can interview the suspects in custody before needing to go before a magistrate.
The two men suspected of murdering Drummer Rigby, 25, remain “stable” in hospital after being shot by police when they charged towards armed officers.
They have been identified in the media as Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale, aged 22.
A 29-year-old man previously arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder has been released on bail to return pending further enquiries.
The Met Police say they are also executing search warrants at four residential addresses in south east London tonight.
Commending courage shown by firearms officers last Wednesday
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has praised the courage of the firearms officers who tackled the two alleged killers of soldier Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich last Wednesday.
His commendation follows the publication and broadcast of smartphone footage of a woman firearms officer only inches away from being in contact with an assailant charging towards her in Artillery Place.
Sir Bernard said: “Every day in London, armed officers patrol in the knowledge that they may have to face highly dangerous situations in which they will be required to make split-second decisions that have life-changing consequences. The horrific event of last Wednesday in Woolwich was such an occasion.”
“Many people will have seen the footage of the incident that is now in the public domain. Whilst there is still an ongoing independent investigation into the exact circumstances on that day, what the public footage clearly demonstrates is the courage and dedication that we require from our officers in very dangerous incidents,” he added.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, carrying out an inquiry into the events, has stated that they are not pursuing any criminal or misconduct offences in relation to the police discharge of their weapons, which they were able to evaluate by the examination of local authority CCTV.
The Met Police Commissioner said: “These officers take on this responsibility on behalf of all of us, and I take pride in the professionalism shown in such a challenging role.”
Statement from Greenwich University on its association with one of the arrested murder suspects
While hundreds of wellwishers have been travelling to the crime scene and entrance to Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich to pay their respects by leaving flowers, and other messages of condolence to Drummer Rigby, the University of Greenwich has released a statement confirming that one of the arrested suspects wounded by police, Michael Adebolajo, had been a student there for two years but had to leave because his “academic progress was unsatisfactory.”
Professor David Maguire, vice-chancellor, said that the other wounded suspect Michael Adebowale had not been a Greenwich University student.
“The university takes its responsibilities very seriously in terms of preventing extremism. We are committed to ensuring that the university is a safe and secure place of study and debate within the confines of the law. We have diverse communities on campus and these include a range of different faiths,” the professor added:
He said that the university has set up an investigation “into the association of these two individuals with the university, to assess whether there is any evidence of extremism in the university (past or present) and whether we need to update our policies and practices.”
Meanwhile it is emerging that Michael Adebowale’s family is well known in the Deptford and New Cross communities through the business and professional work of his mother. The flat where he is believed to have been living, Macey House, in old Greenwich, is still under examination by detectives.
ITV news has broadcast an interview with Richard Taylor OBE, the father of the murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, in which he talks about his role in mentoring Michael Adebowala and the impact of what has happened on his family.
Arrest of friend of Michael Adebolajo at the BBC
Abu Nusaybah, from East London, who described himself as a friend of Adebolajo, was arrested after giving an interview to BBC Newsnight in which he alleged that the arrested murder suspect had travelled to Kenya, been tortured, and was later subjected to recruitment pressure from the Security Service MI5.
The Met Police announced in the early hours of this morning “At around 2130hrs on Friday, 24 May, a 31-year-old man was arrested in London by officers from the MPS Counter Terrorism Command on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000. The man has been taken to a south London police station, where he remains in custody.
Detectives are searching two residential addresses in east London in connection with this arrest.
Political extremists accused of exploiting the Woolwich events
The BNP is being accused of cynically exploiting the killing to further its “own poisonous ends” after a visit to Woolwich by its leader Nick Griffin yesterday and a plan by the far right group to hold a demonstration next Saturday.
Onay Kasab, from Greenwich Socialist Party said: “What happened in Woolwich on Wednesday was a despicable act, whatever the political motivations of the attackers. We completely condemn the murder. Members of the community from every ethnic and religious background have also joined together in condemning this cold-blooded killing.
“The BNP cannot be allowed to march this weekend. We call on the people of Woolwich to make a firm stand against racism, terror and war,” he added.
The Greenwich local Socialist Party has said: “In the wake of this killing the racist thugs of the EDL have already cynically tried to use the event to whip up racism against all Muslims. Two attacks on mosques took place on the night of the Woolwich killing. The Socialist Party is totally opposed to the scapegoating of Muslims as a result of this tragic killing.”
The tweet below by Nick Griffin, a BNP member of the European Parliament, indicates that his visit to Woolwich provided an opportunity to generate publicity for a political group that has experienced a massive decline in support during recent elections.
Wow, speed of modern communication media. Sky have me on before I’m even out of Woolwich. Wonderful bank of floral tributes to Lee.
— Nick Griffin MEP (@nickgriffinmep) May 24, 2013
Islamophobic hate crimes running at more than 10 times their usual rate
The TELL MAMA public service for measuring and monitoring anti-Muslim attacks has reported a spike in incidents since last Wednesday’s events.
Faith Matters, which runs the organisation’s helpline, said they had received 162 calls since the attack, up from a daily average of six.
Fiyaz Mughal said: “I think we are going to see a growth of activity over the next few days, we are already seeing activity online from people who we thought were no longer a problem. It seems that groups like the EDL have capitalised on this incident quite well, both at a street level and with online support.”