May 23, 2013

Two more suspects arrested in London terror attack

Islamic hardliners say the man who appeared with bloody hands in a video following the attack on a British soldier is a convert from Christianity.

The Associated Press

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Lee Rigby, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was identified as the soldier who was attacked and killed by two men in the Woolwich area of London on Wednesday.

The Associated Press / British Ministry of Defence

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This man was filmed on the street, claiming responsibility after the attack in London on Wednesday.

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Even so, security was increased at military barracks and installations in the capital, with extra armed guards added in many cases. Police said extra patrols were added at sensitive areas, including places of worship, transport hubs and congested areas.

Britain's Ministry of Defense said the soldier killed was Lee Rigby, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Rigby, a 25-year-old with a 2-year-old son, Jack, joined the army in 2006 and was posted first to Cyprus and later served in Afghanistan and Germany. He took up a recruiting post with the military in London in 2011.

Wednesday's attack took place near a military barracks in the Woolwich area of south London.

The scene was bizarre in a prosperous capital known for its decorum: A man hacked to death in mid-afternoon, lying on the ground dead as the two alleged assailants talked with shocked bystanders and tried to score propaganda points on video cameras while apparently waiting for a bloody confrontation with police.

There was little hard information available about the wounded suspects. Police gave no details of their injuries or conditions.

Both suspects in the London attacks had been part of previous terror investigations by Britain's security services, according to a British official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the police inquiry and cautioned that details could jeopardize future trials.

It was unclear how recent the investigations were or whether the men were loosely tied to other suspects being investigated or whether they themselves had been put under surveillance, which could have included being watched by undercover investigators or having their phone calls and emails intercepted.

Dramatic video footage showed a black male — animated, hands stained with blood and holding a meat cleaver — criticizing the British government and the presence of U.K. troops in foreign lands.

Maajid Nawaz, a former Islamist now with the London-based Quilliam anti-extremism think tank in London, said the footage and details emerging indicated that the men had been inspired by al-Qaida even though they may not have been directed by any specific affiliate to attack the soldier.

"There is always mood music playing before these attacks happen," Nawaz told The Associated Press. "In this instance, I'm not saying they are operationally linked to al-Qaida, but these men clearly felt an affinity to this global jihadist zeitgeist. And they wouldn't have had to have visited any foreign countries for this ideology to have resonated with them."

Security officials have been worried over the recent increase of men seeking training and fighting opportunities in countries such as Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

Dozens of British men and women are said to have been radicalized by U.S.-born militant cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the militant leader who was killed in a 2011 U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

A Twitter account used by members of Somalia's al-Qaida linked terrorist group al-Shabab made a lengthy post Thursday about the attack in Woolwich.

The Twitter account referenced a video of the bloodied suspect calling the attack "an eye for an eye" for what it called the British army's "woeful record of abuses" against Muslims worldwide.

"We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you," the man in the video declared, complaining about British troops fighting Muslims. "We must fight them as they fight us."

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