MI5 asked Michael Adebolajo if he wanted to work for them about six months before Woolwich attack, his childhood friend Abu Nusaybah has claimed.
During a BBC interview, Abu Nusaybah said his friend Michael Adebolajo – one of two men arrested after Drummer Lee Rigby’s murder in south-east London on Wednesday – had rejected the approach from the security service.
Abu Nusaybah, 31, was arrested at the BBC after giving the interview.
BBC’s Newsnight reporter Richard Watson said after the interview had concluded he left the studio to find officers from the Metropolitan Police counter terrorism unit waiting to arrest Abu Nusaybah.
The Met confirmed Abu Nusaybah had been arrested at 21:30 BST on Friday in relation to suspected terrorism offences and search warrants were being executed at two homes in east London.
The arrest was not directly related to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, it said.
Soldier Lee Rigby was killed in front of dozens of people near Woolwich Barracks, where he was based, on Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, who was also arrested at the scene, remain in hospital after being shot by police.
In his Newsnight interview, Abu Nusaybah said he thought “a change” had taken place in his friend after a trip to Kenya last year.
Abu Nusaybah was arrested after a TV interview where he claimed MI5 asked Michael Adebolajo to work for them about 6 months before Woolwich attack
Abu Nusaybah said Michale Adebolajo had told him he travelled there “to study”, but instead, was part of a group rounded up by “Kenyan troops” and interrogated in a prison cell.
During his detention he said he was “beaten quite badly”, Abu Nusaybah said, and in his opinion, his friend had also been subjected to sexual abuse, although he was too “ashamed” to say exactly what happened.
After this, he became withdrawn “and less talkative – he wasn’t his bubbly self”, Abu Nusaybah said, adding: “His mind was somewhere else.”
Abu Nusaybah also said Michael Adebolajo was “stopped” upon his return to the UK from Kenya and was later “followed up by MI5” who were “knocking on his door”.
He was “basically being harassed”, Abu Nusaybah said.
Abu Nusaybah added: “His wording was, <<They are bugging me – they won’t leave me alone.>>
“Initially they wanted to ask him if he knew certain individuals.
“But after him saying that he didn’t know these individuals, what he said was they asked him if he would be interested in working for them.
“He was explicit in that he refused to work for them but he did confirm he didn’t know the individuals.”
Reporter Richard Watson said that, in general terms, it was not out of the ordinary for the security service to approach people for information or even to act as covert sources.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, originally from Romford, east London, and fellow suspect Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, south-east London, had been known to MI5 for eight years, officials confirmed on Thursday.
Two women, aged 29 and 31, arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, have been released without charge, but a man, 29, remains in custody.
Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline, but the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.
On Friday, Drummer Lee Rigby’s wife Rebecca, the mother of his two-year-old son, said she had been aware of the dangers of her husband serving in countries where there was armed conflict, including Afghanistan, but added: “You don’t expect it to happen when he’s in the UK. You think they’re safe.”
Rebecca Rigby said: “I love Lee and always will. I am proud to be his wife. He was a devoted father to our son Jack and we will both miss him terribly.”
Drummer Lee Rigby’s stepfather, Ian Rigby, said: “We would like to say <<Goodnight Lee, rest in peace our fallen soldier. We love you loads and words cannot describe how loved and sadly missed you will be>>.”
Ian Rigby added that his stepson “adored and cared a lot for his family, he was very much a family man, looking out for his wife, young son Jack, younger sisters, whom in turn they looked up to him”.
It was reported today that MI5 had been monitoring the two fanatics responsible for the slaughter of a young soldier near Woolwich barracks for eight years.
The Security Service is facing an inquiry by MPs amid a raft of devastating revelations about the killers’ known links to Islamist extremism.
One of the suspects – Michael Adebolajo – was so high profile he was photographed outside Paddington Green police station six years ago behind notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary.
Michael Adebolajo was even intercepted by officials as he attempted to travel to Somalia to fight alongside Islamist terrorists last year.
It also emerged that Michael Adebolajo, 28, was a violent ex-prisoner who was a member of a banned terrorist group.
Incredibly, he was said to have been preaching jihad on the streets of Woolwich earlier this week, only a few hundred yards from where 25-year-old Army Drummer Lee Rigby – a married father – was beh**ded.
As MI5 faced accusations that they let the men slip through the net, British PM David Cameron ordered a full intelligence review by a Westminster committee.
Police chiefs described the counter terrorism investigation, one of the largest in recent history, as “complex and fast-moving”.
Michael Adebolajo and his friend remained under armed guard in separate hospitals being treated for gunshot wounds. They are expected to recover fully.
MI5 had been monitoring the two fanatics responsible for the slaughter of a young soldier near Woolwich barracks for eight years
The second suspect was reported last night by news outlets including Channel 4 News and The Times to be Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich, south-east London.
The victim was named yesterday as Drummer Lee Rigby, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who has a two-year-old son.
The young soldier was run over and ha**ed to death with a meat cleaver and knives near his barracks in Woolwich, South East London.
Minutes later the two Islamists were gunned down by firearms officers after charging towards them in an apparent attempt to kill themselves.
The atrocity triggered a wave of national revulsion as British Prime Minster David Cameron branded it an attack on the British way of life and a “betrayal of Islam”.
PM David Cameron said there was no justification for the attack and the responsibility lay purely with the “sickening individuals” behind it.
He added: “This country will be absolutely resolute in its stand against violent extremism and terror. We will never give in to terror or terrorism in any of its forms.”
The list of questions faced by the authorities was growing fast as evidence of the danger the two men posed to Britain grew.
Sources said both men featured in “a number” of counter terrorism investigations in recent years but were not seen as a “threat to life”.
Yet Michael Adebolajo, who was born in South London but is of Nigerian descent, was linked to Anjem Choudary as long ago as 2003.
The former fitness instructor is believed to have been a member of Al Muhajiroun, which was led by the hate preacher until it was banned by the Government.
Michael Adebolajo was jailed at least once for violence and friends said he was a member of a gang of knife-wielding street robbers in his hometown of Romford, Essex.
Footage showed him standing directly behind Anjem Choudary during a protest outside Paddington Green police station in April 2007.
It is believed he may have also been held by the Met in 2006 after protesting outside the Old Bailey during the trial of four Muslim men.
The defendants were ultimately jailed for their part in protests at the Danish embassy in London against cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.
Secret wartime papers exchanged between MI5 officials reveal that the Nazis’ plans to conquer Britain included a deadly assault on Sir Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate.
Adolf Hitler’s bomb-makers coated explosive devices with a thin layer of rich dark chocolate, then packaged it in expensive-looking black and gold paper.
The Germans planned to use secret agents working in Britain to discreetly place the bars of chocolate – branded as Peter’s Chocolate – among other luxury items taken on trays into the dining room used by the War Cabinet during the Second World War.
The lethal slabs of confection were packed with enough explosives to kill anyone within several metres.
But Hitler’s plot was foiled by British spies who discovered they were being made and tipped off one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs, Lord Victor Rothschild.
Nazis’ plans to conquer Britain included a deadly assault on Sir Winston Churchill with exploding chocolate
Lord Victor Rothschild, a scientist in peace time as well as a key member of the Rothschild banking family, immediately typed a letter to a talented illustrator seconded to his unit asking him to draw poster-size images of the chocolate to warn the public to be on the look-out for the bars.
His letter to the artist, Laurence Fish, is dated May 4, 1943 and was written from his secret bunker in Parliament Street, central London.
The letter, marked “Secret”, reads:
“I wonder if you could do a drawing for me of an explosive slab of chocolate.
“We have received information that the enemy are using pound slabs of chocolate which are made of steel with a very thin covering of real chocolate.
“Inside there is high explosive and some form of delay mechanism… When you break off a piece of chocolate at one end in the normal way, instead of it falling away, a piece of canvas is revealed stuck into the middle of the piece which has been broken off and a ticking into the middle of the remainder of the slab.
“When the piece of chocolate is pulled sharply, the canvas is also pulled and this initiates the mechanism.
“I enclose a very poor sketch done by somebody who has seen one of these.
‘It is wrapped in the usual sort of black paper with gold lettering, the variety being PETERS.
“Would it be possible for you to do a drawing of this, one possibly with the paper half taken off revealing one end and another with the piece broken off showing the canvas.
“The text should indicate that this piece together with the attached canvas is pulled out sharply and that after a delay of seven seconds the bomb goes off.”
The letter was found by Laurence Fish’s wife, journalist Jean Bray, as she sorted through his possessions following the artist’s death, aged 89, in 2009.
Jean Bray has spent the past two years putting together a book of her late husband’s work – Pick Up A Pencil. The Work Of Laurence Fish.