GUILTY: Muslim fanatics who murdered soldier Lee Rigby in cold blood

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Two British Muslim fanatics have been found guilty of the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

Converts Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were convicted at the Old Bailey after running Fusilier Rigby down in a car and then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives in front of horrified onlookers.

Michael Adebowale (left) and Michael Adebolajo

Michael Adebowale (left) and Michael Adebolajo

They lay in wait near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22 and picked the 25-year-old to kill after assuming he was a soldier because he was wearing a Help for Heroes hooded top and carrying a camouflage rucksack.

Within just three minutes of hitting him at 30-40mph in their Vauxhall Tigra, they had butchered the young father and were dragging his body into the middle of the road.

Neither Adebolajo nor Adebowale had been able to offer any real defence for the barbaric attack during their trial, which was beset by legal delays.

The jury took just 90 minutes to convict them of murder.

Michael Adebolajo

Michael Adebolajo

The pair were cleared of the attempted murder of a police officer.

After the murder, Adebolajo had charged at a marksmen wielding the cleaver while Adebowale brandished a gun.

The jury took around 90 minutes to come to their decisions.

Relatives of Fusilier Rigby broke down in tears as the verdicts were given.

Michael Adebowale

Michael Adebowale

Mr Justice Sweeney ordered that the decisions be heard in silence.

He said he will pass sentence after a key appeal court ruling on the use of whole life terms in January.

As the jurors were thanked for their service, Mr Justice Sweeney said: “It’s no doubt a case that is going to stay with us all for a long time.”

As the defendants were taken down, Adebolajo kissed his koran and raised it in the air.

Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was murdered in Woolwich in May

Fusilier Lee Rigby, 25, was murdered in Woolwich in May

The judge expressed his “gratitude and admiration” for the soldier’s family.

He said they had “sat in court with great dignity throughout what must have been the most harrowing of evidence”.

The judge added: “I’m extremely grateful to them and can only sympathise with what has happened to them and its continued effect ... upon all their lives.”

Fusilier Rigby’s family and friends, including his widow Rebecca, sat through weeks of harrowing evidence on the final movements of the soldier and his killers.

Disturbing video footage of the soldier being run over by the Vauxhall Tigra, driven by his murderers at 30-40mph, was shown, as were clips of the two extremists dragging his limp and bloodied body into the middle of Artillery Place outside Woolwich barracks.

Adebolajo pulled Fusilier Rigby’s head to the side and attempted to decapitate him, while Adebowale stabbed him repeatedly.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (right) as they speak to a member of the public

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (right) as they speak to a member of the public

One witness described their actions, which took place just yards from Mulgrave Primary School, as being “like a butcher attacking a joint of meat”.

The men had armed themselves with eight knives, including a meat cleaver and a five-piece set bought by Adebolajo from Argos the previous day.

Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC told the court the fanatics “wanted members of the public to see the consequence of what can only be described as their barbarous acts”.

A number of women - such as Amanda Donnelly-Martin, who was with her daughter - approached Fusilier Rigby and attempted to comfort him, but he was already dead.

Adebolajo handed Ms Donnelly-Martin a handwritten letter containing a religiously-fuelled rant about fighting “Allah’s enemies” and bringing “carnage” to the streets of London.

It said “to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation’’ and went on: “If you find yourself curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns, then know it’s simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns.”

In another shock video clip aired on television on the day of the attack, Adebolajo is seen speaking with blood on his hands, suggesting that the attack was “an eye for an eye”.

He said: “The only reason we’ve killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers.”

The murderers were also armed with a gun, and previously admitted possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

The rusty revolver - 90 years old and unloaded - was part of the plan the pair had made and was used partly to frighten off members of the public before the emergency services arrived.

But as a police vehicle swung into Artillery Place, both men rushed aggressively towards it, with Adebolajo raising the meat cleaver above his head and Adebowale waving the firearm.

Both men were shot by police in more dramatic scenes to be captured by CCTV. Adebolajo was seen dropping the meat cleaver as he sprinted across the road towards the marked BMW, collapsing to the ground when he was shot.

Similarly Adebowale, who moved along a wall to draw fire from the officers, was seen folding over as he too was shot by one of three armed officers.

Police then administered first aid on the two men before they were taken to hospitals in south London for potentially life-saving treatment.

Just 16 minutes passed from the moment the jihadists struck Fusilier Rigby to when the police started to treat the killers for their injuries.

Adebolajo espoused his extremist views throughout police interviews and when he appeared in the dock of the Old Bailey.

Under the cover of a blue blanket, he told detectives in interview that he was angered by Western leaders such as Tony Blair, David Cameron, the Miliband brothers and Nick Clegg.

He told jurors he was a “soldier of Allah”, he said he loved al Qaida as his “brothers”, and said he was “obeying the command of Allah”.

But Mr Justice Sweeney ultimately told the jury nothing he said was a defence in law to murder.

Adebowale chose not to give evidence. His counsel told the jury that his client shared the views of his accomplice - he too believed he was a “soldier of Allah”.

Fusilier Rigby, who joined the Army in 2006, had left Woolwich Arsenal DLR station and was making his way to the barracks when he was set upon by the two men.

The soldier, who was posted on operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2009, was dressed in a Help For Heroes hoodie and was carrying an Army day sack.

Adebolajo, who was born in Lewisham, had been using a flat in Oakwood Close, south east London, while Adebowale, who was born in Eltham, had been living in Greenwich.

Both men requested to be called by their adopted Islamic names, Adebolajo as Mujahid Abu Hamza, and Adebowale as Ismail Ibn Abdullah.

Speaking outside the court building, Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who leads Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism teams, said: “We are pleased that justice has been done. At this very difficult time our thoughts are with Lee’s family and all those who knew him and loved him.

“This horrific attack and murder which took place in broad daylight on the streets of London shocked the whole country.

“It was intended to divide our communities, it has had largely the opposite effect and in fact brought people together.”

A member of the public shouted “hang them” as Ms Dick addressed television cameras and waiting journalists.

Michael Adebowale attacked three police officers in his first 24 hours in custody, it can now be reported.

The 22-year-old, who was confronted by courageous “Woolwich Angel” Ingrid Loyau-Kennett in the aftermath of Fusilier Rigby’s murder, was said to be “very unpredictable” when held by police.

As a teenager he was victim to a knife attack in which his best friend was killed, and he told psychiatrists that he was haunted by the voices of his would-be killers.

He was discharged from hospital six days after Fusilier Rigby’s murder, and was formally charged on May 29, appearing in court for the first time the next day.

There the rare step was taken of allowing him to be handcuffed while in the dock because of the risk to police, prison and security officers.

It emerged that he had attacked three police officers in 24 hours. The first incident was when he was in his cell picking out his stitches, and when a police officer came in to stop him, he punched him in the face with his right hand.

Then when he was interviewed for the first time, he spat in an officer’s face; and in a third incident he spat in a glass of water and threw it in a police officer’s face.

Adebowale, who asked to be called Ismail Ibn Abdullah in court, ultimately chose not to give evidence and refused to explain his horrific actions to the jury or Fusilier Rigby’s family.

His co-accused Adebolajo horrified millions of people by appearing on camera with bloodied hands clutching a knife and a meat cleaver moments after killing Lee Rigby.

The 29-year-old, who was raised as a Christian, became a committed Islamic extremist who tried to join jihadis in east Africa, and then brought terror to the streets of the UK.

In the shocking footage he was seen ranting about how Muslims in other countries had to witness similar horrors to that which he and Michael Adebowale had wreaked in south east London.

Another film clip captured him charging towards police clutching a knife and a meat cleaver, and flying through the air after he was shot by the embattled marksmen.

Giving evidence in court, he only showed emotion when talking about his religious beliefs, but remained calm when describing his chilling attempts to decapitate Fusilier Rigby.

He told jurors that he had converted to Islam in 2002 or 2003, when he was a student at the University of Greenwich, and chose to take the name Mujahid Abu Hamza.

Adebolajo said he wanted to be called Mujahid, meaning fighter, after he learned “how much Allah loves the mujahideen”.

He was born to Nigerian parents at King’s College Hospital in south east London on December 10 1984, and later went to Marshalls Park School in Romford, east London, where he made friends with Kirk Redpath, who went on to become a Lance Corporal in the British Army and was killed in an explosion in Iraq.

Adebolajo told jurors that most of his friends growing up were white British, and that he blamed Tony Blair for Mr Redpath’s death.

His nurse father Anthony and social worker mother Tina had tried to dissuade him away from the clutches of Islamic extremism, but in 2010 he was arrested in Kenya, apparently trying to get to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Adebolajo said he wanted to get to the African country so that he could live under Sharia law.

Michael Adebolajo walking to the north footpath of Artillery Place

Michael Adebolajo walking to the north footpath of Artillery Place

A gun which was shown in court during the trial of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

A gun which was shown in court during the trial of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale

Michael Adebolajo during interviews with police

Michael Adebolajo during interviews with police

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (right) lying on the ground after they were shot by armed police

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale (right) lying on the ground after they were shot by armed police

Michael Adebolajo (centre) falling to the floor having been shot by armed police

Michael Adebolajo (centre) falling to the floor having been shot by armed police