Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kenya/UK: Briton Who Hacked Lee Rigby to Death Released in 2010, Tips for All Citizens

According to The Guardian, Wycliffe Makasembo, a Kenyan lawyer who in 2010 represented Michael Adebolajo, 28, a man suspected of participating in last week's hacking death of British Army drummer Lee Rigby, 25, along with Michael Adebowale, 22, on a London street, has said that he was freed at the time on the basis of a recommendation of the British High Commission in Nairobi.

Michael Adebolajo was arrested in Kenya in 2010 for allegedly attempting to join the Somalian Islamist militant group, al-Shabaab. According to Makasembo, Kenyan anti-terrorism police detained Adebolajo and six others (all Kenyans) when they tried to travel north to Somalia in a speedboat.

COMMENT: When contacted by Kenyan authorities, the British High Commission confirmed that Adebolajo had no criminal record or any connection with any criminal or terrorist organization in the world," considering that "suspicion" alone is no reason to hold or prosecute a suspect. 

Subsequently, Adebolajo was deported back to Britain and the other six were also released without charge.

The British Foreign Office has only said that they provided consular assistance to Adebolajo, although Britain's ITV News channel reported that Adebalajo, who went by the nickname Mujahid, or "warrior" (after embracing Islam as a teenager) and his family were approached by both MI5 and MI6 who attempted to recruit him as an informant.

It is entirely possible that after being considered as a possible informant, British intelligence should have thoroughly investigated Adebolajo as a potential threat, yet it is unknown as to whether that was addressed or not. This might well be an issue to be examined by the management of all security services  from the standpoint of documenting lessons-learned.

There have now been three unprovoked attacks on citizens of the UK and France. Thus, it is essential that UK and French authorities determine whether there are any common threads between these three attacks from the standpoint of determining whether they are related or suggest a new emerging tactic in Western Europe.

Unfortunately, French President François Hollande may have spoken too quickly in making his comment that the incidents in Paris and London were not related. Clearly, it is too early to make such a statement.

Sadly, many citizens of both the UK and France may be wondering whether there are more such stabbing attacks to come.  As a result, the following guidance is offered to all nations that have witnessed this new terrorist tactic:

1. Pedestrians should deliberately observe people they encounter on the street, taking note of their focused interest in a possible target and their possible possession of bladed instruments;

2. Inasmuch as most of the victims of this new tactic have been alone, and until we have a better idea whether there will be similar attacks in the future, pedestrians should consider walking with friends or colleagues;

3. I have made it very clear in the past that a preoccupation with political correctness can put law-abiding pedestrians at risk, which is why it is important to focus on the fact that most assailants of this new tactic may well be from other countries, even if naturalized citizens;

4. Carry a mobile phone at all times;

5. Ensure that the local police emergency number can be quickly inputted from your mobile phone;

6. Uniformed police and military personnel may well be targeted in the future, which is why it is so important for them to be alert to imminent threats;

7. Be particularly observant in public areas where heterogeneous groupings of people gather; and

8. Report any suspicious activity to police immediately.