LONDON — A report released Tuesday into the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby levels criticism at a U.S. Internet company for not revealing online exchanges where one of his two attackers expressed an intention to murder a soldier. The report also says UK intelligence services could not have prevented the attack.
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who are both serving prison sentences, attacked Rigby in May 2013. They drove a car into the soldier before brutally hacking him to death in Artillery Place, Woolwich, south-east London.
The findings in the report published by the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament highlight an exchange that took place in December 2012 between Adebowale and an extremist overseas on an unnamed US Internet platform in which he expressed his intent to murder a soldier "in the most graphic and emotive manner." The exchange was not seen by authorities until after the attack."Had MI5 had access to this exchange, their investigation into Adebowale would have become a top priority," the report says.
"This company does not appear to regard itself as under any obligation to ensure that its systems identify such exchanges, or to take action or notify the authorities when its communications services appear to be used by terrorists," it says.
The report warns that even if MI5 had sought information from the company, the company in question might not have responded.
"We have looked at this issue more broadly and discovered that none of the major US Communications Service Providers regard themselves as compelled to comply with UK warrants obtained under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000."
Speaking in the House of Commons Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said Internet companies have a responsibility to stop terrorists from using their platforms to plan attacks.
Earlier this month, the head of GCHQ warned some U.S. technology companies were "in denial" about the misuse of the Internet by terrorists.
Tuesday's report, compiled after the Committee spent 18 months examining the actions of M15, M16 and GCHQ, says the intelligence agencies could not have prevented the soldier's death.
It says Adebolajo and Adebowale appeared in seven different agency investigations but despite there being errors in these operations they were not significant enough to have made a difference."Based on the evidence we have seen, we do not consider that any of the Agencies’ errors, when taken individually, were significant enough to have affected the outcome," the report says.
Adebolajo, who was sentenced in February to a whole-life term in prison, was was investigated by MI5 on five separate occasions at various times between May 2008 right up to the attack in May 2013. He was a high priority during two operations, however the report says none of these investigations revealed evidence about him planning an attack.
Meanwhile, Adebowale, who is serving a 45-year sentence, was investigated by MI5 on two separate occasions but was only treated as a low-level suspect of interest from August 2011 up until the attack.
"Agencies took appropriate action based on the rigorous threshold set down in law: they had not received any intelligence that Adebowale was planning an attack and, based on that evidence, more intrusive action would not have been justified," the Committee says.
Tags: COUNTER-TERRORISM, TERRORISM, UK, US & World, WORLD