Police released two women arrested as part of the terror probe into the killing of a 25-year-old soldier in London as searches continued at six homes across England.
A 31-year-old woman and a 29-year-old woman who were arrested yesterday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder were both freed without charges today, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. Two men, ages 22 and 28, were arrested at the scene on May 22 after being shot by officers and are suspected of killing the soldier and remain in hospitals.
London police are investigating the death of Lee Rigby, who was stabbed with knives and cleavers in the London neighborhood of Woolwich across the street from an army barracks. The probe comes as further questions are raised about security and Islamic extremism in a city that suffered its second fatal terror attack in eight years.
“It’s caused so much concern because the individuals dressed, spoke, appeared so much like other young Londoners,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told a meeting of religious leaders in north London today. ‘It’s shown once again how unbeatable London is in the face of this attempt to sow fear and suspicion in our country.”
A fifth suspect, a 29-year-old man, also remains in custody, the MPS said.
Police are continuing to search five homes throughout London and a sixth in in Lincolnshire, in the eastern part of England.
Video footage broadcast by ITV News showed a man, his hands covered in blood and holding a cleaver and a knife, speaking after the attack. “We must fight them as they fight us,” he said in a London accent. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Your people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
A 14-second video on the website of the Daily Mirror newspaper shows how one of the men sprinted at officers responding to the attack, coming within a few feet of a stationary police vehicle before being felled by two shots.
The second assailant can be seen holding a weapon and moving in the direction of the police. Six more shots ring out amid screams.
Rigby, a fan of the Manchester United soccer team, served as a machine gunner in Cyprus and then in 2009 as a member of a fire support group in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Rigby, who had a 2-year-old son, was attacked just after 2 p.m. two days ago outside the barracks in Woolwich, southeast London.
“I just want to say I love Lee, and always will,” Rigby’s widow, Rebecca, said at a televised news conference today. “I am proud to be his wife and he was due to come up this weekend so we could continue our future together as a family.”
Prime Minister David Cameron warned yesterday against “knee-jerk responses” to the attack, following unrest in the Woolwich area sparked by members of the English Defence League, which campaigns against what it calls “militant Islam.”
The attackers yelled “Allahu akbar,” meaning “God is great” in Arabic, Sky News television and the BBC reported.
The BBC and other U.K. media identified the murder suspects as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. The Independent newspaper reported that Adebolajo was known to belong to a banned Islamist organization, Al Muhajiroun, which favors sharia law and publicly celebrated the Sept. 11 bombings in the U.S. He went by the name of Mujahid -- a Muslim engaged in holy war --up until two years ago, Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the group, was cited as saying by the newspaper. No charges have been filed by police.
“There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act,” said Cameron, who went to visit the barracks yesterday afternoon. The blame “lies purely with the sickening individuals who carried out this attack.”
It’s the first actual, rather than planned, attack in Britain investigated as a possible act of terrorism since July 7, 2005. Fifty-two people were killed when four Islamist suicide bombers set off explosions on underground trains and a bus in central London during the morning rush hour.
Security was tightened at Woolwich and other London barracks. There was no change to the terror threat level in the U.K. from “substantial,” meaning an attack is a “strong possibility,” following the incident, the Cabinet Office said.
“We’re not going to change our behavior, we’re not going to disrupt normal life,” Clegg said.