The second suspect arrested for the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday is being named by multiple news outlets as Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, south-east London.
The focus of the huge anti-terrorist police investigation has included raids and extensive searches of flats in old Greenwich SE10, close to the University of Greenwich and the border with the Borough of Lewisham.
The Metropolitan Police announced Friday afternoon May 24 that two women, aged 29 and 31, arrested yesterday on suspicion of murder had been released without charge. A man, 29, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder yesterday remains in custody.
The Met Police are not confirming or announcing the names of two men, aged 22 and 28, arrested on suspicion of murder who remain in hospital in a stable condition.
Searches were ongoing at six residential addresses; three in south London, one in east London, one in north London and one in Lincolnshire.
Members of the “Woolwich Community” Facebook page have posted a message saying “We would now like to get back to our day to day routines and recover from the tragic incident that has happened.”
The social media site was the source of immediate eye witness reaction to events on Wednesday and reported that the other suspect with a very similar name, Michael Adebolajo 28, was “known in the area for standing in the high street during busy hours with a table handing out islamification leaflets and preaching hate for the government. He is also known for speaking out on buses in the area.”
The wider connections of the two men shot and wounded by armed police are being pursued by one of the largest inquiries carried out by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command in its history.
They are pursuing leads and carrying out interviews throughout the East London Lines boroughs of Lewisham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney. All aspects of the suspects’ education, family life, travel, social and political networks and work history are under intense investigation.
The Lewisham Islamic Centre has released a statement saying they were shocked by what had happened in Woolwich and said: “It is further disturbing to hear that these individuals were Muslims. From our perspective, we would like to clarify and confirm categorically, that these actions are in no way, shape or form from the teachings of Islam.”
The Centre warned that “It is inevitable at times like these that various groups will seek to drive a wedge between communities. We believe our community in the London Borough of Lewisham (“LBL”) is an excellent one that has an outstanding record with respect to community cohesion within and beyond LBL. We sincerely hope that the heinous crime that has taken place will not lead to long term discord within the borough or beyond.”
On the day of the attack a joint statement from representatives of nine of London’s religious groups was released to the media by London’s Faiths Forum: “We, as representatives of many of London’s faith communities, deplore the terrible attack that has taken place today in Woolwich. All of our religions exalt the sanctity of human life and no grievance could justify such a barbaric assault that has cost a young man his life. Terrorism has no place on our streets.
We pray for the victim of this attack and his family, and call for Londoners to stand together at this time. We will redouble our efforts to work for peace, love, understanding and hope.”
The impact of Wednesday’s events and the aftermath is generating a wider debate about the role of social and mainstream media and the reaction of the political rhetoric.
Professor Les Back, Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London says it was “as if south-east London was holding its breath.”
He observed: “newspaper headlines about the murder did not challenge the violence, rather the news coverage is deeply complicit with its politics.”
In a blog published yesterday he wrote: “The violence and the reactions to it will damage London’s multicultural society, but not fatally.”