LONDON (AP) — A jury on Thursday convicted two British men who considered themselves "soldiers of Allah" of murdering a serviceman who was run down with a car and stabbed to death in a frenzied attack on a London street.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for just 90 minutes before finding Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale guilty of murdering Fusilier Lee Rigby. They were acquitted of attempting to murder a police officer.
Adebowale chose to present no evidence in his defense during the three-week trial at London's Central Criminal Court. His lawyer, Abbas Lakha, told the jury that his client agreed with Adebolajo's description of the attack as a "military operation" and the two men as soldiers.
The savagery of the crime, Adebolajo's bloodthursty rhetoric — delivered in a London accent — and the ordinary working-day surroundings all helped make the killing a crime that inflamed fears of Islamic extremist terrorism in Britain. It was followed by a spate of attacks on mosques and Islamic centers, and by protests from far-right groups.
Adebolajo, who comes from a Christian family and converted to Islam in his teens, was arrested in November 2010 near the Kenya-Somalia border and eventually returned to Britain. Kenyan officials said he intended to join an Islamic militant group in Somalia.
The pair had been radicalized, in part through exposure to firebrand preachers like U.S.-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Sermons by al-Awlaki and other extremist material were found at Adebolajo's father's house.
The men were not accused of being linked to a wider conspiracy. Adebolajo told the court he had never met anyone from al-Qaida but admired the terrorist group and considered its members his "brothers in Islam."