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Accused has no regrets over fusilier's death

ONE of the men accused of murdering Lee Rigby has told a jury he loves al Qaeda and does not regret what happened to the soldier.

ON TRIAL: Michael Adebolajo  gave evidence to the Old Bailey.
ON TRIAL: Michael Adebolajo gave evidence to the Old Bailey.

Michael Adebolajo gave evidence at the Old Bailey yesterday, surrounded by five security guards. 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 May 22. They deny the charge.

The soldier's relatives sat 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 claimed the soldier was still moving after he was hit by the car. He told the jury the 25-year-old 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 are 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 does 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."

But when he was asked how he feels 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," he said. "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 is, Adebolajo said: "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."

Asked what should happen to him after this case, he said he should be ransomed back to other jihadi fighters, set free or killed if he is found guilty.

The jury of eight women and four men heard he took the name Mujahid, meaning fighter, after he converted to Islam in 2002 or 2003.

The court heard that Adebolajo's children include a baby born shortly before the incident.

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.

Adebolajo said: "I hold Tony Blair responsible for his death."

In cross-examination by prosecutor Richard Whittam QC, Adebolajo admitted that he and Adebowale had killed Fusilier Rigby.

"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. It's not a casual joke. It's a military operation."

As well as murder, Adebolajo and Adebowale are both accused of attempted murder of a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer, which they deny.

The trial continues.

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