9 Dec 2013

Lee Rigby accused tells court ‘I love al-Qaeda’

Michael Adebolajo, one of the men accused of murdering soldier Lee Rigby tells a court he will “never regret” his actions and that al-Qaeda are his “brothers”.

Michael Adebolajo, 28, started giving evidence at the Old Bailey on Monday.

In response to a question from his own counsel David Gottlieb, he replied: “Al-Qaeda, I consider to be Mujaheddin. I love them, they’re my brothers. I have never met them. I consider them my brothers in Islam.”

He added: “Mujaheddin are the army of Allah.”

He and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of murdering Fusilier Rigby by running him down with a car and then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives near Woolwich barracks in south east London on 22 May.

Mr Adebolajo admitted attacking Fusilier Rigby. “After I struck the neck, I used another of the knives I had sharpened to try and remove the head, but I was unsuccessful in this attempt.”

He told the jury that he did not regret what happened to Fusilier Rigby: “I will never regret obeying the command of Allah. That is all I can say. I’m a mujahid, I’m a soldier, I’m doing what Allah commands me to do. I can’t do anything else.”

Mr Adebolajo said he converted to Islam in his first year at Greenwich University, after being raised as a Christian. The court heard that he is married and has six children, including a seven-year-old boy.

He told the court: “My religion is everything. When I came to Islam I realised that… real success is not just what you can acquire, but really is if you make it to paradise, because then you can relax.”

‘I don’t believe in the law’

When asked about his attitude to people in authority, he said: “Generally speaking, I don’t get along with them, generally. In most instances I don’t get along with authority, except for my mother and my father.”

It continues to be my hope that the life of this one soldier might indirectly save the lives of many many people – Michael Adebolajo

As the court laid out ground rules for his giving evidence, including not speaking over the judge, he said: “I don’t believe in the law.”

He said that he wasn’t 100 per cent sure that Lee Rigby was a soldier, but added: “There were some steps that we took before we set out that day. I prayed and begged Allah that we did not target anyone outside the military.

“He was carrying this type of bag, we recognised the type of bag. We waited also to ensure he was going towards the entrance to the barracks. These things combined gave me enough certainty that he was a soldier.”

‘This is only happening for one reason: foreign policy’

He told the court that he didn’t want Fusilier Rigby’s death to be “misunderstood”, adding: “I wanted people to understand that this is only happening for one reason: foreign policy. It continues to be my hope that the life of this one soldier might indirectly save the lives of many many people both in the Muslim lands and this country.”

He said he had not previously thought of “killing a man”, but added: “when a soldier joins the army, he will likely kill a man at some stage. When I became a Mujahid I became aware I might end up killing a soldier.”

He said that, growing up in Romford, the “vast majority” of his friends were white British, and one, Kirk Redpath, joined the army and was later killed in Iraq. Mr Adebolajo said: “I hold Tony Blair responsible for his death.”

He said his favourite teacher at school was the first person to teach him about Adolf Hitler. He told the court it showed him that “there are some very wicked people in the world”.

He told the jury of eight women and four men about his Christian family upbringing: “My parents used to take us to church every Sunday. The memory that sticks in my mind… is probably every new year’s eve in the evening around 11 o’clock we would gather around in candlelight and read passages from the Bible.”

The case continues.