LONDON • British police say two more people have been arrested by officers investigating the hacking death of a U.K. soldier in London.
Scotland Yard said counterterrorism officers arrested a man and a woman — both 29 — on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder. Both suspects are in custody at a south London police station.
Two suspects shot and arrested by police at the scene Wednesday — a 22-year-old man and a 28-year-old man — remain hospitalized in stable condition with injuries that are not life-threatening, police added.
Two Muslim hardliners say the man seen wielding a bloody butcher’s knife after the killing of a British soldier is a Muslim convert who took part in demonstrations with the banned radical group al-Muhajiroun.
Former al-Muhajiroun head Anjem Choudary identified the man as Michael Adebolajo, a Christian who converted to Islam around 2003 and took part in several of the group’s demonstrations in London.
Omar Bakri Muhammad — who now lives in Lebanon but had been a radical Muslim preacher in London — also said he recognized the man seen on television as Adebolajo and said he attended his London lectures in the early 2000s. Police have not named Adebolajo.
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." Indeed, there were few signs of alarm in the British capital, which has been hit by terrorist attacks during a long confrontation with the Irish Republican Army and more recently by al-Qaida-inspired attacks.
"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."
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. They did confirm that the victim was a serving British soldier. His family has asked that his name not be immediately released.
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 AP. "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.Next Page >
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