Michael Adebolajo is an "associate" of Anjem Chaudary and al-Muhajiroun.
No surprise there, I guess. They just can't do enough to incite hatred against Muslims. Who needs Pamela Geller or Daniel Pipes to turn hearts against Muslims and Islam when we have these maladjusted thugs doing the job for them. :-(http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/may/23/suspect-michael-adebolajo-woolwich-jihadSuspect's journey from schoolboy football to phonejacking and jihad Peter Walker, Shiv Malik, Matthew Taylor, Sandra Laville, Vikram Dodd and Ben Quinn
The Guardian, Thursday 23 May 2013 18.19 EDT
The mother of one of the suspects in the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby moved her family out of London in an attempt to remove him from the influence of a gang.
But Michael Adebolajo returned to the capital to go to university and it was while he was a student that he appears to have set foot on the path that took him from being a schoolboy to an alleged extremist intent on jihad. His tutor, it is claimed, was Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the now banned al-Muhajiroun.
"He was on our ideological wavelength," said Anjem Choudary, a senior figure in the organisation. Adebolajo, whose family are Christians, sealed his conversion to Islam by taking the name Mujaahid – meaning one who engages in jihad.
The 28-year-old was a regular at the al-Muhajiroun stall outside the HSBC branch on Woolwich high street, handing out extremist literature, and one witness said he was recently seen outside Plumstead community centre encouraging an audience to go to Syria to fight.
For the last eight years his activities have been such that he featured in several counter-terrorist investigations, always as a peripheral figure and not the central subject of the inquiry. Sources said there was nothing in his activities which indicated that he might carry out such an attack.
"You would see them there every week," Atma Singh, a Sikh leader said, speaking on Thursday outside Woolwich's neo-classical Victorian town hall. "They were there over a period of several years, handing out radical literature. They were about eight to 10 of them.
"They stopped coming at some point but I was quite annoyed that they were able to do this for so long. Nobody tried to shut the stall down."
Six addresses were searched yesterday, three in south-east London, one in east London, one in north London and one in Lincolnshire. The impact of the investigation on Adebolajo's family was seen in searches at London addresses where relatives lived and 150 miles away in Saxilby, Lincolnshire, at the semi-detached modern home where his mother, Tina, had moved her family in an attempt to remove her son from bad influences.
Adebolajo himself was being held under armed guard in hospital, where counter-terrorist police were waiting to interview him over the hacking to death of 25-year-old Rigby.
The second suspect – believed to be a 22-year-old British man – was being held in a different hospital, also under armed guard. One of the addresses searched in south-east London was believed to be his home; neighbours said they had recognised the man as the suspect, that he lived with his mother and that he disappeared for a period and when he returned had converted to Islam and appeared more "distant". It is not known whether the second suspect was linked to al-Muhajiroun – Choudary said he did not know him.
Adebolajo attended meetings and demonstrations run by al-Muhajiroun for at least five years, from around 2005 to 2011, where he heard an interpretation of Islam preached by Bakri Mohammed, which many Muslims would consider extreme. Bakri Mohammed told the Guardian that he had known Adebolajo, who had attended many meetings. These included al-Muhajiroun events at community centres and a mosque in the Woolwich area.
Bakri Mohammed, now banned from Britain, said as a new convert Adebolajo received special attention: "In 2004 Muslims were feeling a lot of pressures from new laws and from Iraq."
Adebolajo asked the group when violence may be justified. "He asked these type of questions, like many others," said Bakri Mohammed: "He was asking what to do, he was most likely affected by the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan." Adebolajo appears to have later attended events organised by successor groups to al-Muhajiroun until around 2011.
These interests contrast with the accounts of the normal boy that Adebolajo was described as in his earlier life. Born in Lambeth on 10 December 1984 to a family of Nigerian heritage, he grew up in Romford, played football and was said to be a joker within a large group of friends.
His family lived in Eastern Avenue in the town and attended the local church. He has a sister, Blessing, and a brother, Jeremiah.
Both boys went to Marshalls Park school in Romford until at 16 Michael moved to Havering sixth form college. He later attended Greenwich University, where he lived in student accommodation in 2004 and 2005.
Friends at Marshalls Park school talked of how he was an ordinary student until he became involved with a local gang and began "jacking" phones and carrying a knife, they said.
Louise, 26 from Romford, said she knew Adebolajo and Jeremiah from Marshalls Park, where Michael was known as "Naan" and his brother "Jel".
"Naan was two years older than us … Jel was a nice boy. Quite quiet," she said. "We were all really close because there was quite a few who used to hang around together."
She said Jeremiah was "obsessed with the Harry Potter books". She described Michael as clever, popular and extremely funny. "He was a down-to-earth, nice guy, there was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing … [that would make you] have thought, obviously this would have happened," she said.
Louise, who did not want to give her full name, said Adebolajo's mother was strict and dressed in traditional West African clothes to go to church most Sundays. "They were strong on their beliefs."
Louise said that as he headed into his final years at Marshalls Park and then Havering sixth form, Adebolajo became involved with a criminal gang.
"As he got older he started mixing with other people from outside [the school].
"We used to go around the house and there used to be 20 black guys and they would walk around the streets … they were stealing people's phones and that and they had knives."
She said Adebolajo would carry a knife, not just for protection but as part of his criminal activities.
It was then that his parents decided to get the boys out of Romford. "His mum and dad clocked on to that and they moved him away.
"No one has spoke to them since they moved because his mum wanted to get them away from everyone."
Other friends from Marshalls Park conversed on social media to express their shock that Adebolajo was at the centre of a counter-terrorist investigation.
"We left year 2001," one said. "And he was always a good guy at school, do anything for anyone ."
Another added: "They used to live down the eastern avenue two minutes from marshals, they had a garage on the side of the house and Jel had a little telly an that in there and loads of people uses to go round there, from what I remember they were nice boys."
A former neighbour of the family remembered them as friendly and welcoming churchgoers.
The man, who asked not to be named, said his wife used to give Adebolajo's mother – whom he remembered as working for social services – a lift to church. "They were very pleasant, a very ordinary normal family," he said.
However Graham Silverton, 63, who has lived in the street for 25 years, said that when Adebolajo was a teenager he was unruly and would get into trouble. He claimed one of the neighbours' children, a teenage girl, had once gone to the Adebolajos' door to retrieve a ball kicked into their garden and was insulted and punched by Michael.
Kemi Ibrahim-Adeoti, 45, described Adebolajo as a typical teenager growing up. She said: "Michael was older than my son, I knew him from when he was about 17. He used to come around and play with my son and I didn't have any problems with him coming around.
"Michael was just a typical teenager, you know, he would rebel against his parents once or twice that I know of."
In 2004 Michael's mother, Tina, moved her son away to Lincoln but he later returned to the capital, where he became a student at Greenwich University.
Addresses in Greenwich where he lived as a student were searched by counter terrorist police on Thursday, as was the home where Adebolajo's sister lived in Romford.
Another address in Greenwich – thought to be that of the second suspect – was also sealed off and searched early on Thursday. The small flat is on the fourth floor of a block, Macey House, about four miles from the site of Wednesday's attack . It is registered as the home of a 22-year-old British man, also of Nigerian descent, who lived in the property with his mother.
Neighbours at the scene said he lived there with his mother and went to a local college – although this has not been confirmed by police.
One neighbour, Madeleine Edwards, said the man at the flat had been involved in gangs when he was younger. She said he had left the property for about a year after giving evidence in a murder trial.
"His mother said he had to disappear," said Edwards.
When he came back Edwards had converted to Islam, she said, and had become "distant".
"He could see my disdain at the direction he had gone in," she said.
Another neighbour, Jonathan Ackworth, 42, said: "I was so shocked when I saw his picture on the television … I used to see him coming and going and would say hello – he seemed perfectly pleasant."
Two uniformed officers stood guard outside the top-floor flat as plainclothes officers and forensics detectives went in and out of the property yesterday.
Many neighbours in the block – which sits close to the banks of the Thames – were visibly shaken. One said she did not want to talk because she feared reprisals from rightwing groups.
"This is a good block and people can't quite believe this has happened right on our doorstep – a lot of the neighbours are in tears today," said Ackworth.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said officers had knocked on the door and asked if they could use her flat to watch the property, which was raided several hours later.