Michael Adebolajo, accused of murdering soldier Lee Rigby in London surprised the court this week when he admitted to the murder, saying he was acting as “a soldier of Allah.”

Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, are both being charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to murder a police officer. Adebolajo and Adebowale deny the act of murder, separating it from what Adebolajo deems a religious act of war.

“I understand some people might not recognize [that I am a soldier] 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 al still soldiers in the sight of Allah as a mujhad,” Adebowale said.

Adebolajo and Adebowale are accused of running Lee Rigby, 25, over with a car, dragging his Rigby’s body off to the side of the road and attacking him with knives, one stabbing repeatedly at the soldier’s body, the other attempting to hack off his head with a meat cleaver.

Eyewitness testimony spoke to the horror of the attack, and Rigby’s family, including his estranged wife, parents and fiancé, reportedly ran out of the courthouse when shown video footage of the attack.

Adebolajo called the killing of Rigby a “military operation” in court on Monday, but did not mention how long in advance he had planned the so-called operation. He said he had not planned on hitting Rigby with his far, but, “it just so happened that Allah caused him to cross in front of my car.”

Adebolajo says he and his co-defendant, Adebowale, had set out on May 22, the day of the murder, without a plan in place to attack Rigby. Rather, they went out with plans to attack a soldier, any soldiers. The rational for going after a soldier rather than a civilian being that soldiers have volunteered to put their lives at risk.

“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,” Abebolajo said.

In an amateur video shot by a bystander of the attack, Adebolajo is clearly seen, meat cleaver in hand, admitting to the crime. In the video, Adebolajo says that this is retaliation for the military's involvement in Europe and the Middle East.

“The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily, by British soldiers…This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth… We swear by the almighty Allah that we will not stop fighting until you leave us alone," Adebolajo says in the video.

Adebolajo converted to Islam when he was still a teenager, and has adopted the name of Mujaahid Abu Hamza. He was raised Christian, and discovered his connection to Islam while attending Greenwich University.

“When I came to Islam I realized that… real success is not just what you can acquire, but really is if you make it to paradise, because then you can relax,” he said in court.

Adebolajo also testified that Rigby was dead by the time Adebowale joined in on the attack. Adebowale has yet to take the stand himself.

– Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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