Prime Minister David Cameron has announced an investigation into whether MI6 was complicit in the alleged torture of Michael Adebolajo whilst he was held in Kenya in 2010. Adebolajo, one of the two men who killed Fusilier Lee Rigby, claims he was threatened with electrocution and rape whilst under arrest for suspected terrorist links.
The announcement is a result of the publication of an investigation into the death of Rigby in Woolwich, London last year. He was run down by Adebolajo and his accomplice Adebolawe as he was returning to the Royal Artillery Barracks where he was stationed. The two men then set upon him with machetes and knives.
The inquiry will be launched by Sir Mark Walker, the intelligence services commissioner, and will focus on possible misconduct of British security services in their dealings with Adebolajo, the Times has reported.
Last Tuesday the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security committee, chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind, released the results of their inquiry into whether the attack could have been prevented by Britain’s security forces. It blamed Facebook in part for not reporting the activities of Adebolajo to the security services.
However, it also criticises MI6 for not investigating Adebolajo’s claims of mistreatment by the Kenyan authorities. In 2010 he had been arrested, along with five Kenyan youths, trying to cross the border into Somalia, and was held under suspicion of trying to join the extremist group Al-Shabaab. It was whilst being held that he claims he was threatened.
The report notes that, “when Adebolajo reported his mistreatment, it was not clear whether he was referring to his treatment by the Kenyan police, by ARCTIC, or by both” (ARCTIC being a counter-terrorism unit with a close working relationship to British government agencies). It describes the failure to establish whether ARCTIC has been responsible for mistreating Adebolajo as “surprising”.
The report concludes “Where HM Government (HMG) has a close working relationship with counterterrorist units, they will share responsibility for those units’ actions. HMG must therefore seek to ensure that the same legal and moral obligations to which HMG adheres, and guidance which they follow, also apply to such units.
“Where there is a possibility that an allegation of mistreatment might refer to a unit where HMG has such responsibility, then HMG must investigate as a matter of priority to establish whether the unit is involved.”
It also criticises the failure to inform ministers or senior officials of the allegations of mistreatment, an omission it brands as “inexcusable”, concluding: “given the recent focus on the treatment of detainees, and the allegations against the UK Agencies of complicity in mistreatment, we would have expected that all allegations of mistreatment would now be treated with the seriousness they merit.
“We have therefore been deeply concerned at the informal manner in which Adebolajo’s allegations were handled: whatever we now know about him as an individual does not detract from the fact that his allegations were not dealt with appropriately.”
The Prime Minister yesterday issued a written ministerial statement on the matter, noting that the committee “were critical of the Secret Intelligence Service for the handling of allegations of Michael Adebolajo’s mistreatment in Kenya, made during his interview by the police under the Terrorism Act 2000 on his return to the UK.
“I have therefore asked Sir Mark to examine the concerns raised by the committee.”