Government defends security services after Woolwich murder
The government has defended the security services following criticism that they missed key signs that may have averted the violent murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday.
A House of Commons inquiry will now take place after it was confirmed that the two suspects, identified as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, had been known to the security services for eight years.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, the communities secretary Eric Pickles said it was not possible to control everyone in a free society.
“Peers and MPs will do a thorough investigation in terms of what the security forces knew, but I’ve seen experts on security explaining how difficult it is in a free society to be able to control everyone,” he explained.
Emphasising the difficulties faced by the security services, Mr Pickles continued: “The security services need to be lucky every time, but a terrorist organisation only needs to be lucky once.”
Talking on BBC Two’s Newsnight, the former head of counter terrorism at MI6 Richard Barrett made it clear that it was “enormously hard” to detect the signals for such attacks, even when the perpetrators are already known to security services.
“I assume that these people are probably coming out of a small group without, necessarily, any overseas connections or any other broader connections in the United Kingdom which could come to the attention of the security services more than they did,” he said.
Former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Blair told Radio 4’s Today programme that the investigation into how the suspects were monitored must be quick to establish any mistakes, stating: “I think it’s important for the public to know security services and the police are operating properly.”
Many Muslim organisations in the UK have strongly condemned the attacks on Rigby and stated that they had no connections to the incident. These statements come after footage from a passer by showed one of the suspects, thought to be Mr Adebolajo, saying he had carried out the attack because British soldiers were killing Muslims every day.
The president of Ahmadiyya Jamaat UK, Rafiq Hayat, stated: “We hope that the perpetrators of this crime, that is based on a twisted and warped ideology, are brought to justice.”
On Thursday, Drummer Rigby’s family paid tribute to “a loving son, husband, father, brother, and uncle,” saying he “would do anything for anybody”.
Both suspects remain under armed guard in separate London hospitals after being shot by police during their arrest. Neither have life-threatening injuries.