Facebook slammed for failing to report ‘death chat’ before Lee Rigby’s murder

Murdered Middleton soldier Lee Rigby could have been saved if Facebook had handed over vital information to security services, according to a shocking Government report.

The report identified a ‘substantial’ exchange of messages between Rigby’s killer Michael Adebowale and a foreign-based extremist in which he discussed his intentions to kill a soldier, just months before the attack.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), who released the report yesterday, said the social network giant had not accepted it had an obligation to divulge messages regarding terrorism, warning the site had become a ‘safe haven for terrorists.

The report said: “Had MI5 had access to this exchange, their investigation into Adebowale would have become a top priority.

“It is difficult to speculate on the outcome but there is a significant possibility that MI5 would then have been able to prevent the attack.”

Jeremiah Abedowale, brother to Lee Rigby’s killer, released a statement via CAGE in response which slates the report as ‘nothing more than a distraction from the motives behind the attack’ and argues it puts a ‘particular segment of British society under further pressure and surveillance’.

“The result: To alienate young Muslims, further ghettoising the Muslim community, to make lone wolf attacks even harder to detect as those contemplating such action will refrain from using social media to express their views.

“And, most importantly, to restrict our freedom of movement and expression the government so hypocritically claims to uphold.”

While the publicly-released report doesn’t identify Facebook as the host of the messages, it is understood that the complete version handed to the Prime Minister does so.  

Labour’s MP for Salford, Hazel Blears, is among the members of the committee which also includes Sir Menzies Campbell, the Marquess of Lothian (Michael Ancram) and Lord Butler of Brockwell, author of the Butler Report into the Blair government’s intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Anti-surveillance campaigning body Open Rights Group have come out in criticism of the report, calling it politically-motivated and an ‘excuse’ to justify surveillance.

“When the intelligence services are gathering data about every one of us but failing to act on intelligence about individuals, they need to get back to basics, and look at the way they conduct targeted investigations,” said the group.

“The committee should not use the appalling murder of Fusilier Rigby as an excuse to justify the further surveillance and monitoring of the entire UK population. To pass the blame to internet companies is to use Fusilier Rigby’s murder to make cheap political points.

 “As the report admits, ‘lone wolf attacks’ are almost impossible to predict – and therefore difficult to prevent. The security services should focus their efforts on the targeted surveillance of individuals like Michael Adebolajo rather than continuing to monitor every citizen in the UK. “

In response to the IPC’s findings, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged another £130million in over the next two years to monitor and disrupt ‘lone wolf’ terrorists like Abedowale.

A lone wolf is someone who commits or prepares for violent acts of terrorism, but who does so alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.

Michael Adebolajo had been downgraded to a ‘marginal’ terror suspect just a month before he went on to murder Lee Rigby, despite previously being a high priority for MI5 in two previous operations, but offline investigations never “revealed any evidence of attack planning”.

The ISC said it had ‘explored whether it would have been possible, theoretically, for the agencies to have accessed Adebowale’s exchange … before the attack, had they sought to do so’.

“Given the number of variables concerned, we consider that access would have been possible but unlikely without the co-operation of the company concerned [Facebook],” revealed the report.

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