A jury unanimously found Michael Adebolajo (29), and Michael Adebowale (22), guilty of murdering Rigby following their trial.
The two men responsible for the sensational daylight murder of 25-year old British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, South London, on 22 May this year, were convicted at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) on Thursday.
A jury unanimously found Michael Adebolajo (29), and Michael Adebowale (22), guilty of murdering Rigby following their trial. The trial judge, Mr. Justice Sweeny, will pass the sentence in January after a court of appeal makes a ruling on the use of whole-life terms. The death penalty was abolished in Great Britain in 1965.
The gruesome murder — Rigby was repeatedly stabbed and his neck hacked with a cleaver — is the second case of Al-Qaeda-inspired killings in the U.K. after the July 5, 2005 bombing of London’s transport system by four suicide bombers.
Adebolajo is reported to have looked at the media and kissed a Koran as he was being led away after the conviction.
The shaken family of Rigby was present at the verdict. His wife Rebecca Rigby said, “This has been the toughest time of our lives and no-one should have to go through what we have been through as a family.
“These people have taken away my baby’s Dad but Lee’s memory lives on through our son and we will never forget him.”
The two men — raised as Christians but converted to extremist Islamicist ideology had vowed to take revenge for what they believed was the anti-Muslim foreign policy of western governments. They were reportedly influenced by Anjem Choudary, the extremist preacher and founder of the now-banned Al-Muhajiroun.
The unsuspecting Rigby was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Armed and on the hunt, the two men saw him as he was returning to Woolwich barracks from duty in central London.
They drove a blue Vauxhall Tigra directly at him at a speed between 30 and 40 miles per hour that hit him from behind and lifted him onto the bonnet.
Dragging his body to the middle of the road, and before horrified bystanders, Mr. Adebolajo and Mr. Adebowale attacked him with knives and a cleaver, before they were themselves shot and wounded by the police who arrived on the scene.
Much of the attack was recorded on CCTV, and on smart phones by witnesses.
In a video grab, Mr. Adebolajo stands with bloodied hands as he justifies his barbaric act to bystanders: “The only reason we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The verdict has been widely welcomed in Britain, including by leading Muslim faith leaders. Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain in a statement said Muslim communities “…then, as now, are united in their condemnation of this crime,” one that has “besmirched our great religion of Islam.”
Dr. Tariq Abbasi, Director of the Greenwich Islamic Society, expressed “delight” at the verdict. “In our sadness, we must not forget our fight against extremists and extremist organisations operating from within our country,” he said, urging for tough action by the government against such groups “so that the ordinary, law abiding British Muslims can also live in peace and harmony.”