UK: Soldier’s murder may be terror-related

Prime Minister Cameron condemns attack in London in which soldier was hacked to death and says Islam must not be blamed.

Police investigate Woolwich attack, UK
Police forensics officers investigated the crime scene where the man was killed [Reuters]

British police are investigating the murder of a soldier who was attacked with a meat cleaver near an army base in South London.

The victim was hacked to death with a cleaver in the Woolwich district in the southeast of the British capital on Wednesday before the attackers were shot by police.

A second meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA security council has been held and David Cameron, British Prime Minister, made a statement about the results.

The fault lies exclusively in the warped and deluded mindset of the people that did it.

by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

“This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against extremism and terror,” he said after the meeting.

“This action was a betrayal of Islam and the Muslim communities that give so much to our country. We will defeat violent extremism by standing together.

“We will not rest until we know every detail.”

Cameron also praised the actions of Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, a cub scout leader who confronted the attackers immediately after the violence and tried to talk them down.

“They told her they wanted to start a war in London and she replied, ‘you are going to lose, it is you against many,” Cameron said.

“She speaks for all of us.”

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Westminster, said that on leaving the meeting London Mayor Boris Johnson indicated that people could go about their business as usual.

“Reading in to this a little bit, it seems to be that political leaders do not seem to think this attack poses any greater threat to security,” our correspondent said.

Video footage 

Johnson also made a statement ahead of the meeting in which he emphasised that religion should not be blamed.

“It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam,” the mayor said.

“It is also wrong to draw a link between this and British foreign policy and soldiers risking their lives in the name of freedom.

“The fault lies exclusively in the warped and deluded mindset of the people that did it.” 

Video footage filmed by an onlooker and broadcast by Britain’s ITV news channel showed a man with hands covered in blood and holding a bloodied meat cleaver and a knife.

“I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands, our women have to see the same,” he said. “You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”

Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Woolwich, said it was essential that political and religious leaders restore calm in the face of violence from the UK’s far-right. 

“The English Defence League wanted to use this to their advantage. They came out last night chanting ‘no surrender to Muslims,’ and clashed with riot police,” our correspondent said.

Over 100 of the far right group’s supporters, some in balaclavas, took to the streets on Wednesday evening.

“That expression of theirs has been widely echoed. There were two attacks on mosques overnight and there is a growing unease of unease about who this man was and whether he is part of a broader movement.”

‘Truly barbaric’

The man, who has been confirmed as being  a British soldier, was reportedly first hit by a car before the two men in that vehicle came out with a machete and a gun and started to attack to man.

Witnesses said the attackers had approached police when they arrived and were then shot.

Our correspondent, Laurence Lee, said people on social media platforms were expressing anti-Muslim sentiment after the incident as the men were said to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” as they attacked the man.

Security was tightened in the area and at all London barracks after the incident. 

The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the attack, saying: “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly.”

Shiraz Maher, of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at Kings College, told Al Jazeera that British security services have become good at foiling large-scale conspiracies.

He said al-Qaeda has now told Muslims in the West who are sympathetic to their cause to instead launch small-scale attacks, without talking to others, “maybe do it alone, or with another friend; get a knife, get a machete.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies