ONE of the men accused of murdering the soldier Lee Rigby has told a jury “this is what happens in war”.
Giving evidence at the Old Bailey yesterday, Michael Adebolajo also said that he loved al-Qaeda and considered himself a soldier.
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 London on 22 May.
The soldier’s relatives sat just a few feet away as Adebolajo, a married father of six, spoke to the court.
Fusilier Rigby’s widow,
Rebecca, left the courtroom in tears as Adebolajo, surrounded by five security guards, claimed the soldier was still moving after he was hit by the car.
He told the jury that the 25-year-old had moved, and was “maybe semi-conscious, but he did not sit up or stand up”.
Asked who al-Qaeda were by his counsel, David Gottlieb, Adebolajo replied: “Al-Qaeda, I consider to be mujahideen. I love them, they’re my brothers. I have never met them. I consider them my brothers in Islam.”
The 28-year-old, whose front teeth are missing, told the jury that he did not regret what happened to Fusilier Rigby.
He said: “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.”
When he was asked how he felt towards the soldier’s family, he told the court: “I have no animosity or bad feelings towards them. Every soldier has a family, has a family who loves him just like me. My family didn’t stop loving me the moment I became a soldier.”
Adebolajo, dressed in a black Islamic tunic, went on: “That soldier’s life, his death, might protect the lives of other soldiers who are being sent to die in unjust wars.”
When asked what his defence to the charge of murder was, Adebolajo insisted that he was a soldier. “I’m a soldier. I’m a soldier of Allah and I understand that some people might not recognise this because we do not wear fatigues and we do not go to the Brecon Beacons and train and this sort of thing. But we are still soldiers in the sight of Allah as a mujahid.”
The jury heard Adebolajo admit that he and Adebowale had killed Fusilier Rigby. He described the killing as a “military operation”.
“Just as a general plans attacks, knowing full well that when he plans this attack people will die, this is what happens in war, so when we target a soldier this is a similar thing,” Adebolajo told the court. “It’s not a casual joke. It’s a military operation. This is how we see it.”
Asked what should happen to him after the case, he said he should be ransomed back to other jihadi fighters, set free or killed if he was found guilty.
The jury of eight women and four men heard that he took the name Mujahid, meaning fighter, after he converted to Islam in 2002 or 2003.
He told the jury that he and Adebowale prayed to Allah that they would attack a soldier and not a civilian. “To be 100 per cent, I don’t believe there’s a way to know 100 per cent that was a soldier; however there were some steps that we took,” he said.
“For example, before we started out on that day and the night previous to that, I started worshipping Allah and begging him that we strike a soldier and a soldier only.”
The court heard that he used to attend demonstrations “in the hope it might make a difference”, but he added: “I was somewhat naive.”
Adebolajo said that, while he was not a member of any group, these demonstrations were organised by al-Muhajiroun, a group proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act.
He also discussed the group’s co-founder, Anjem Choudary, and said he thought he was a “good man” but he disagreed with some of his views.
As well as murder, Adebolajo and Adebowale are accused of attempted murder of a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer, which they deny.
The trial continues.