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Britain's Cameron Rounds On "Poisonous" Extremism, As Two Guilty Of Soldier Killing

posted 19 Dec 2013, 08:30 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Dec 2013, 08:31 ]

British Prime Minister David Cameron says the country has to redouble efforts "to confront the poisonous narrative of extremism and violence" as two British Muslim converts are found guilty of murdering a soldier on a London street. One of the convicted defendants had said his actions were an act of war in retaliation for British military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (DECEMBER 19, 2013) (REUTERS) - Two British Muslim converts were found guilty of murder on Thursday (December 19) after hacking a soldier to death in broad daylight on a London street in a gruesome killing that horrified the nation.

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The murder, its impact magnified by video footage showing the culprits with blood soaked hands explaining their actions, provoked a rise in hate crimes against Muslims in Britain, anti-Islamist street protests and government promises of tougher action on radical Islamist preachers.

A jury at London's Old Bailey criminal court took just over 90 minutes to unanimously find Michael Adebolajo, 29, and Michael Adebowale, 22, guilty of murdering Lee Rigby, 25, an Afghan war veteran, near an army barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.

The court heard they had driven around the area looking for a soldier and ran over Rigby, attacking his unconscious body with knives and a meat cleaver and trying to behead him.

Visibly shaken, Rigby's mother, Lyn, step-father Ian, former wife and mother of his young son,Rebecca and his fiancée Aimee West issued a statement after the verdict was reached, read out by Detective Inspector Pete Sparks.

"'This has been the toughest time of our lives. No one should have to go through what we have gone through as a family. We are satisfied that justice has been done. But unfortunately no amount of justice will bring Lee back. These people have taken him away from us forever, but his memory lives in on all of us, and we will never forget him,'" said the family statement.

The two Muslim converts dragged Rigby's corpse into the middle of the road where Adebolajo asked a bystander to video them, brandishing their weapons with their hands covered blood, as he calmly explained what he had done to the shock of startled passers-by.

Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan PoliceCressida Dick said outside the court: "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 bought people together. The court heard of extraordinary acts of courage and compassion from members of the public at the time of this dreadful incident."

Further dramatic footage captured the two men trying to ambush armed police as they arrived on the scene. Adebolajo charged towards a police car wielding a cleaver while Adebowale waited, clutching a rusty, unloaded revolver before officers shot and wounded them.

The two men were found not guilty of the attempted murder of a police officer.

During the trial, the pair never denied killing Rigby but Adebolajo argued the act should not be considered murder but an act of war - a war for Allah in response to Britain's foreign policy and Western wars in nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it would ask the court to find that the murder was motivated by terrorism when the defendants come to be sentenced in January.

"The murder of Fusilier Rigby was brutal and its perpetrators carried out one of the most savage offences prosecuted by our counter terrorism lawyers. As a soldier this young father has dedicated his life to keeping people safe, including from the threat of terrorism, that dedication to his country cost him his life and was in stark contrast to the appalling conduct and extremist views of the men who murdered him," said Sue Hemming from the CPS.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has described Rigby's killing as an act of terrorism and a "betrayal of Islam".

At a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday Cameron told journalists that the whole country was shocked by the murder.

"The whole country united in condemnation of what happened and I'm sure everyone will welcome these verdicts today. And I think it also shows that we have to redouble our efforts to confront the poisonous narrative of extremism and violence that lay behind this and make sure that we do everything to beat it in our country," said Cameron.