THE official inquiry into the killing of Lee Rigby in 2013 has highlighted the contacts that MI5 and MI6 had with the two attackers
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had been known by the secret services for eight years. However, the report by the Parliamentary Intelligence Committee (ISC) published yesterday, shows that MI5 stopped the surveillance of Adebolajo four weeks before he carried out the attack.
Adebolajo’s brother Jeremiah, claims that his brother had been approached by MI6 to work with them. The report also shows that the two men appeared in seven different agency investigations, but for the most part as ‘low-level subjects of interest’.
Adebolajo went to Kenya in 2010 and was arrested as he attempted to join al-Shabab, the extremist movement based in Somalia. The report exposes the fact that the secret services did not interview him after he returned from Kenya to Britain.
The report stated that MI6’s ‘apparent lack of interest’ in Adebolajo’s arrest in Kenya was ‘deeply unsatisfactory’. During a question and answer session with the Parliamentary Intelligence Committee, Gordon Corera from the BBC asked: ‘It appears that one question that you were not able to answer was whether MI5 approached Michael Adbolajo to become an agent.
‘MI5 appears to have stonewalled that attempt to get to the bottom of that. Is that frustrating to the committee? You have to neither confirm or deny it.’
Conservative MP Malcolm Rifkind, Chairman of the committee responded: ‘You have to make a distinction between what we have learned and what is possible to appear in the published version of the report.
‘You can assume that the matters you have discussed were intensively examined by the committee. We received full answers from the intelligence agencies to the questions we raised and these matters are again in the report that went to the Prime Minister.
‘But because there is a fundamental policy, not just in this case, which we think is justified, that you can never comment on questions on agent recruitment, because you would never in the future be able to recruit agents, if such a policy became a matter of public comment.
‘So you can assume Gordon, these matters were investigated and it says in the report that they were investigated.’
Corera interjected: ‘But the public do not get the answer.’
Rifkind responded: ‘I am sorry the public does not get the answer, that is quite true, the issues are no more confidential than issues of agent recruitment have to be.’
The report’s conclusion was ‘given what the agencies knew at the time, they were not in a position to prevent the murder of Fusilier Rigby’. This has already led to criticism of the committee itself, with accusation that the report is a ‘white wash’ that lets the secret services off the hook.
The Labour chairman of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz MP, says that he now wants his committee to question the intelligence agencies because he does not think the Parliamentary Intelligence Committee (ISC) has done a good enough job.
Both Rifkind and committee member George Howarth MP made the allegation that sections of the report had been deliberately leaked to bolster support for the Tory government’s Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.