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Suspect in British soldier's slaying: 'I do not dispute I killed him'

CNN
Monday, December 9, 2013 - 11:32am

One of the men accused of the brutal daylight killing of British soldier Lee Rigby told a jury Monday that he killed the soldier because he is fighting a war.

"I do not dispute I killed him," Michael Adebolajo said under cross-examination at the Old Bailey criminal court in London.

Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of murder, conspiracy to murder a police officer and attempted murder of a police officer. They have denied the charges.

Earlier Monday, as he gave testimony for the first time, Adebolajo said that he loved al Qaeda and that he found the opening Iraq war campaign disgusting.

When asked what he thought of al Qaeda, Adebolajo, who has said he identified himself as Mujahid Abu Hamza, said: "I love them and I consider them my brothers in Islam."

Questioned by his defense lawyer, Adebolajo told jurors he was against British foreign policy but did not believe his Islamic views led him onto the path he had taken.

"Even before I became Muslim, I did not agree with foreign policy," he said, then describing an early memory of watching the Iraq war on television.

"Operation shock and awe -- I saw it unfold on BBC and CNN what not, and I was disgusted, you know. It was reported as if it was praiseworthy," he said.

"I knew that every one of those bombs was killing someone. I was disgusted."

When he was asked what his defense to the charge of murder was, Adebolajo said: "I am a soldier. I am a soldier of Allah," citing the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

"I understand that some people may not recognize this because we do not wear fatigues ... but we are still soldiers."

Lee Rigby's family in court

The prosecution says the suspects deliberately attacked an unarmed man from behind using a vehicle as a weapon, "and then they murdered him and mutilated his body with a meat cleaver and knives."

The killing of Rigby outside the Woolwich Barracks in southeast London on May 22 shocked the nation. He left behind a wife and a young son.

The soldier's relatives sat just meters away as Adebolajo spoke to the court.

"Obviously growing up, I never thought of killing a man. This is not something any average child thinks of. But when a soldier joins the army, he knows he will likely kill a man one day," Adebolajo said.

"When I became a jihad, I knew that one day I might end up killing a soldier."

He said the only way he knew that Rigby was a soldier was because of his backpack.

"No Muslim hopes to kill anybody," he said.

When asked about the planning of the attack, he likened it to a general in the British military planning an attack: "He knows people will die. This is what happens in war."

"He (Rigby) was a fusilier. He was a professional machine gun."

Adebolajo gave a matter-of-fact account of his actions at Woolwich. He said that striking Rigby with the car was not intended and that he got out of the car and killed him.

While pathologists told the court last week that the force of the impact rendered Rigby unconscious, Adebolajo disputed that, saying that through the cracked windscreen, he saw Rigby moving.

At that point, Rigby's widow left the court in tears.

He said he had already killed the soldier by the time his co-defendant got out of the car.

"I killed him because it was a command from Allah," he said.

Adebolajo said he had tried to travel to Somalia in 2010 but was captured in Kenya and returned to the UK.

Last week, the court heard the statement of forensic psychiatrist Tim McKinley, who interviewed Adebolajo three times while he was being treated at a hospital after being shot by police shortly after the attack on Rigby.

The psychiatrist described the defendant as polite and said he showed no signs of mental disorder, remorse or regret. Adebolajo told him he posed no threat to civilians, police or medical staff but would be a continued threat to the British military.

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