The mother of one of the men suspected of butchering a British solider on a London street desperately battled to turn him against extremism after becoming concerned by his behaviour, it has been claimed.
Friends say Juliet Obasuyi was worried Michael Adebowale was turning against the family and wanted him to have ‘spiritual guidance’ before he radicalised himself.
The 43-year-old was often left in tears after speaking to her son and would approach neighbours and friends for help.
One of her neighbours said Mrs Obasuyi went to him about nine months ago after her son dropped out of university.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mrs Obasuyi told her 62-year-old security officer neighbour that her son was not listening anymore.
‘His older sister is a good Christian with a degree but Michael is rebelling as he has no father figure, dropping out of university and handing out leaflets in Woolwich town centre.
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‘He is from a strong Christian family but he is turning to Islam and turning against the family. He needs spiritual guidance before he radicalises himself.”
Another friend of Mrs Obasuyi, Steve Adebiyi, told the newspaper that Adebowale was giving his mother problems.
‘They brainwashed him,’ he said.
Problems: It has been claimed that Adebowale became radicalised after trying to escape gangland ‘trouble’. This picture shows Macey House, in Greenwich, south east London where Adebowale is registered as a voter
Weapon: This battered car was used to crush Drummer Lee Rigby against a sign The streak of blood in front shows how his body was dragged into the street
Rant: A man identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, brandishes a meat cleaver with bloodied hands near the scene of the killing. It was claimed last night that MI5 offered Adebolajo a job six months ago
Meanwhile, the father of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor said tonight that he had acted as a mentor to Adebowale, who was known to his friends as Toby.
Asked about Wednesday’s events, Richard Taylor told ITV News: ‘I was terribly shocked at what I saw that day.
‘It’s a different Toby or Michael that I was seeing that day. I don’t believe it was anything Islamic.’
Mr Taylor, whose son was just ten when he was killed in the capital in 2000, said he had tried to help Adebowale after he was bullied at school and then became involved in drugs and gangs.
But he said that when he spoke to Adebowale two months ago, he told him that he had changed his ways as he had become a Muslim.
He went on: ‘Having seen how my own son was stabbed to death, made me feel that… whatever happens, they will still be alive, they will still be on the street or maybe they will take them away from the public or change their faces.
They don’t deserve to live.’
Mr Taylor said he had also known Adebowale’s mother, who he said was a probation officer, while he said his father was a representative in the Nigerian High Commission.
He has been arrested by police officers along with Michael Adebolajo after Drummer Lee Rigby was brutally killed in Woolwich on Wednesday.
It was also claimed yesterday that Michael Adebowale became radicalised after trying to escape gangland ‘trouble’.
London-born Adebowale was told to ‘disappear’ after he was caught up with a local gang known as the Woolwich Boys, and underwent a dramatic change of personality.
Once a fun-loving schoolboy who was described as ‘always smiling’ and chatted to neighbours about Jamie Oliver recipes, he began dressing in traditional Islamic dress and preaching a radical message of hate.
Adebowale gave up alcohol and began distributing radical leaflets near his mother’s home in Greenwich, south-east London.
Neighbours said his Nigerian-born mother, Juliet Obasuyi, was a probation officer and a ‘hard-working’ Christian woman who raised Adebowale alone after separating from his father.
Police raided her flat and a property linked to Adebowale’s father, Adeniyi Adebowale, in Holloway, North London.
Plain-clothes officers were seen carrying six plastic bags full of video cassettes and audio tapes from the Holloway flat.
The videos appeared to be labelled as football matches but one line of inquiry for police is likely to be whether Adebowale was interested in the type of jihadi videos watched by the July 2005 London bombers.
The four bombers were linked to an extreme bookshop in Leeds which distributed videos of terrorist acts, exhorting followers to emulate them.
Michael Oluwatobi Adebowale was born to Nigerian parents in Denmark Hill, South London, in May 1991. His father was then a student at Rutherford College in Canterbury, Kent, and the couple were said to have separated soon after the birth.
Adebowale attended Kidbrooke School in Greenwich, where former pupils said he was known as Toby or Tobi, an abbreviation of his second name Oluwatobi.
Adebowale was said to have converted to Islam at 19, while studying at Greenwich University, where he met the other Woolwich suspect, Michael Adebolajo.
Family friend Madeleine Edwards, 49, said Adebowale had been in ‘some serious gangland trouble’ in 2010 and that his mother had told her he ‘had to disappear for a while’.
She said Adebowale’s father was a ‘typical African gentleman’ but his mother had struggled to control her wayward son.
Adebowale was said to have left the Greenwich area for a year and returned about eight months ago, wearing traditional Islamic garb and a white skull cap, typically worn by Muslim men who have been on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Michael would always say hello and play with my children, but in the last year he stopped. He would just ignore us when we saw him at the lift.
‘He used to talk to me very enthusiastically about cooking and his recipes. He loved Jamie Oliver and had his books.