Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 is under scrutiny over whether it could have prevented the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, it’s emerged.
It comes after Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were convicted of killing him.
Their trial heard the two men ran over Rigby, a 25-year-old Afghan war veteran, near an army barracks in Woolwich, south-east London, then attacked his unconscious body with knives and a meat cleaver, trying to behead him.
It has now emerged both men were known to MI5, but not considered a serious threat.
The duo – Muslim converts originally from Christian Nigerian families – had previously handed out radical Islamist pamphlets and attended protests by the banned organisation Al Muhajiroun, many of whose members have been convicted of terrorism offences.
MI5 is now facing an investigation into whether it could have done more to stop the attack, with a parliamentary committee examining what security services knew about the two men.
Adebolajo and Adebowale were convicted unanimously by a jury at London’s Old Bailey criminal court.
The murder horrified Britain and sparked a surge in reported hate crimes against Muslims, several anti-Islamist street protests by a right-wing group and government promises of tougher action on radical Islamic preachers.
But Home Secretary Theresa May said Rigby’s murder had “united the entire nation in condemnation” as a list of politicians, campaigners and faith groups paid tribute to the murdered soldier and denounced the actions of the killers.
Farooq Murad, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, described the murder as a “barbaric act” that disgusted the vast majority of Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims.
“They claimed that their act was done for those suffering in wars in Muslim lands. But it is my contention that the vast majority of our affected brothers and sisters would have nothing to do with this phoney act done in their name,” he said.
“We must all work hard to heal the divisions caused by this act.”
It was the first killing by Islamist militants in London since four suicide bombers killed 52 people in al Qaeda-inspired attacks on the capital’s transport network in July 2005.