But apparently they were considered to be such a low risk that they were able to roam around London with meat cleavers, looking for a soldier to hack to death. Jihad, after all, it's an interior spiritual struggle, you know!
"London attack: hacking victim named; attackers were previously investigated by terror probe: report," from the Toronto Star, May 23 (thanks to Lookmann):
LONDON — Two men accused of butchering a 25-year-old Afghanistan veteran soldier on a London street had been featured in investigations by security services, a British official said Thursday.
The Ministry of Defence identified the soldier as 25-year-old Lee Rigby, who joined the army in 2006 and served in Afghanistan as a member of the fire support group.
Rigby, the father of a 2-year-old boy, was “an extremely popular and witty soldier (with) a larger than life personality. He was a passionate and life-long Manchester United fan,” the Defence statement read.
His attackers boasted of their exploits and warned of more violence in images recorded on witnesses’ mobile phones. Holding bloody knives and a meat cleaver, they waited for the arrival of police, who shot them in the legs, according to a passerby who had tried to save the dying soldier.
A British government official told The Associated Press both suspects were part of previous investigations for possible terror links.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the investigation, said he could not provide other details because the suspects may face trial.
Investigations by Britain’s domestic security service, MI5, can include undercover surveillance, phone tapping and communications intercepts.
Sky TV reported both suspects “had featured in MI5 investigations, but were not deemed high priority and not thought involved in complex plot.”
Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that Britain would not be cowed by the horrific violence, and that it would reject “the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds.”
“It’s hateful, it’s horrific and upsetting. But it doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference,” Christian White, 43, said at King’s Cross station, close to the site of a subway bomb in July 2005.
“Londoners are used to living in a city where life is complicated.”
It's going to get more complicated.
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.
Wednesday’s attack took place near a military barracks in the Woolwich area of south London.
The following video, obtained by British media, shows the alleged attacker brandishing a knife and cleaver.
There was little hard information available about the wounded suspects. Police gave no details of their injuries or conditions.
After the killing, one of the attackers was recorded on numerous amateur videos warning of more violence and explaining the reason for the crime, while gesturing with bloodied hands and waving a meat cleaver.
“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” the man declared, complaining about British troops fighting Muslims. “We must fight them as they fight us.”
The camera then panned away to show a body lying on the ground.
Police in the county of Lincolnshire in eastern England said a property was being searched in connection to the attack in Woolwich. The Guardian newspaper, with a reporter at the scene, described the home as having been rented for several years by the family, who had since moved to London.
Media, quoting friends and sources, named the suspect in the amateur videos as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, who lived in London.
A police raid on an apartment in Greenwich near Woolwich was thought to be related, media reported. Four people, including two children, were taken away early Thursday by police, neighbours told reporters.
A Guardian reporter in Nigeria quoted officials there as saying both suspects were of Nigerian descent but raised elsewhere.
Both men accused of the attack appeared to have converted to Islam from Christian immigrant backgrounds, British media said.
The Islamic Society of Britain has also condemned the attacks.
“Murdering a British soldier is an attack on our nation,” the society said in a statement. “No effort should be spared in purging this hate.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family of the deceased. Justifying this killing in the name of faith or religion is false and rejected.”
The head of a banned British radical Islamist group identified the suspect on the amateur video as Adebolajo and said he “used to attend a few demonstrations and activities that we used to have.”
Anjem Choudary was quoted by Reuters as saying Adebolajo, whom he had not seen for two years, was “a very pleasant man, he was peaceful, unassuming.”
Choudary’s organization gained notoriety for staging events to commemorate the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States with leaflets that referred to the hijackers as “the Magnificent 19”.
Metropolitan Police in London said they will abide by the family’s wishes and not identify the victim for the time being.
“He was from Lincolnshire and I think he served in the Yorkshire Regiment,” soldier Zak Dempster was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph as he lay flowers at the attack site.
“He was just starting off his career, in his 20s.”
The attack, just a month after the bomb attacks on the Boston Marathon, revived fears of “lone wolves.” These may have had no direct contact with Al Qaeda but are inspired by radical preachers and by Islamist militant websites, some of which urge people to attack Western targets with whatever means they have.
Chilling images of the blood-soaked suspect—who urged Britons to overthrow their government or risk having their children face a fate similar to a dead soldier lying just yards away—were splashed across the front pages of newspapers.
“I apologize that women had to witness that, but in our lands our women have to see the same thing. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you,” the man said in the video before crossing the street and speaking casually to the other attacker.
The grisly attack took place on the edge of London’s sprawling Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, a south London working class district which has long-standing historic links to the military.
The victim was wearing a T-shirt saying “Help for Heroes”, the name of a charity formed to help wounded British veterans. Britain has had troops deployed in Afghanistan since 2001 and had troops in Iraq from 2003-2009.
Before he was stabbed to death, the victim was knocked over by a blue car which then rammed into a lamppost. The attackers pounced on him in broad daylight in a busy residential street.
Witnesses said they shouted “Allahu akbar”—Arabic for God is greatest—while stabbing the victim and trying to behead him. A handgun was found at the scene.
Some onlookers rushed to help the victim and one woman tried to engage one of the attackers in conversation to calm him.
“He had what looked like butcher’s tools—a little axe, to cut the bones, and two large knives. He said: ‘Move off the body,’” Ingrid Loyau-Kennett was quoted by local media as saying.
“He said: ‘I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan.’”...
Cameron’s office had welcomed the condemnation from most mainstream British Muslim groups but that the national security committee had discussed community cohesion....
When will authorities begin to demand more than just pro forma condemnations after the fact?