‘I went for his jugular’

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Soldiers carry Lee Rigby's coffin to the Parish Church in Bury, northern England. File photo: Nigel Roddis

London - A man on trial for the gruesome murder of a British soldier tried to behead him because he thought it the most “humane” way to kill him, comparing it to halaal butchery, a court heard on Thursday.

Michael Adebolajo, who has described himself as a “soldier of Allah”, said he and his accomplice Michael Adebowale targeted 25-year-old Lee Rigby as he walked to his London barracks in May, because he was the first soldier they spotted.

The murder trial at London's Old Bailey court has heard that the pair ran over Rigby with a car and then attacked his unconscious body with knives, with Adebolajo attempting to behead the soldier with a meat cleaver.

Adebolajo, 28, and Adebowale, 22, both Britons of Nigerian descent, deny murder.

Adebolajo told detectives after the brutal killing that he and Adebowale believed a soldier would be “the most fair target” in an attack aimed at avenging the deaths of Muslims abroad.

During a police interview 10 days after the attack, Adebolajo told an officer: “We sat in wait and it just so happened that he was the soldier that was spotted first.”

Covered by a blue blanket with a copy of the Qur’an in front of him, Adebolajo said he tried to cut Rigby's jugular vein after running him over because it was the most humane way of ending his life, comparing it to halaal butchery methods.

“We did not wish to give him much pain,” Adebolajo said. “I could see he was still alive.

“We exited the vehicle and I am not sure how I struck the first blow. The most humane way to kill any creature is to cut the jugular, this is what I believe, this is how we kill our animals in Islam.”

He added: “He may be my enemy but he is a man... so I struck at the neck and attempted to remove his head.”

He and Adebowale felt that a soldier was the fairest target because “he joins the army with kind of an understanding that your life is at risk”, Adebolajo told police.

Adebolajo has asked to be known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza in court, while Adebowale wants to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

The jury was told that detectives found extremist material belonging to Adebolajo when they searched his father's house, including a book called Extreme Islam, works by the slain Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a copy of Inspire, an online magazine published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

His computer, phone and USB stick also contained material on jihad and martyrdom.

The court has heard that the pair were shot by police at the murder scene after Adebolajo ran at officers with the meat cleaver and Adebowale charged at them with a knife.

The men are further accused of attempting to murder a police officer and conspiracy to murder a police officer. They also deny these charges. - Sapa-AFP

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