The two men who killed a soldier on a London street last year had figured in seven investigations by British intelligence agencies, and one of the men had threatened online to commit just such a murder five months before the attack, lawmakers said in a report issued on Tuesday.
A parliamentary committee investigating the killing of the soldier, Lee Rigby, in May 2013 listed numerous failings by intelligence agencies but nonetheless concluded that given what was known at the time, they had not been in a position to stop the murder.
It did, however, blame an unidentified American technology company for failing to tell the British authorities about the online threats, which came to light only after the murder. Facebook, which was identified by British news outlets as the company in question, declined to comment on the case but issued a statement saying it took measures to prevent its services from being used by terrorists.
The attackers, Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 23, were sentenced in February for killing Mr. Rigby, who was run over by a car in broad daylight and then stabbed to death in the Woolwich area of southeast London. Mr. Adebowale was ordered to serve a minimum of 45 years, and Mr. Adebolajo was given a full life term.
Michael Adebolajo, left, and Michael Adebowale were convicted in the May 2013 attack. Credit Metropolitan Police
Tuesday’s report ignited a political debate over the responsibility of technology companies to aid spy agencies at a time when the British government is seeking more powers over them.
Speaking before Parliament, Prime Minister David Cameron said that Internet companies’ networks were “being used to plot murder and mayhem,” and that it was their “social responsibility” to act.