According to USA Today, the two suspects photographed and videotaped butchering a British solder were “part of an early security services investigation” into their possible ties to terror.
The BBC named one of the suspects as 28-year-old Muslim convert Michael Adebolajo, and said both men were “know to security services.”
Adebolajo is reportedly a Briton of Nigerian descent who came from “a devout Christian family but took up Islam after leaving college in 2001.” A “radical…cleric” named Anjem Choudary told The Independent that Adebolajo took the name “Mujahid” upon converting to Islam.
The BBC says the men had been watched in “special investigations” for years–but neither was presumed to be preparing an attack.
An anonymous source within British intelligence confirmed that one of the two men was intercepted while leaving the country last year. No information on where he was headed at that time has been provided.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Islam did not justify the attack. Rather, those who carried out the attack were “solely and purely” responsible.