Lee Rigby's murderers wanted martyrdom - they will get jail

Lucy Manning

Former UK Editor

Adebolajo and Adebowale had both served prison sentenced before they murdered Lee Rigby. Credit: ITV News

Lee Rigby was a British soldier who had gone to war for his country.

The men who murdered him called themselves soldiers of Allah. They thought their war was on the streets of Woolwich.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had been waiting for a soldier to kill. That soldier was Lee Rigby, and as they spotted him in his ‘Help for Heroes’ top walking down the road outside the barracks, they accelerated and hit him.

But it wasn’t enough for them to knock him over. In very graphic detail the jury heard how, in the middle of the day, they repeatedly stabbed and slashed Lee Rigby’s neck and tried to decapitate him. And that was still not enough: they then dragged his body into the road.

In dramatic footage captured on CCTV when the armed police arrived, the men rushed them, knives and gun in hand.

They wanted martyrdom, to go to paradise; instead they’ll go to jail.

But the men were already known to the police. Both had served prison sentences, both had demonstrated at high profile Islamist demonstrations.

And Michael Adebolajo claimed MI5 had visited him as recently as this year. He had been detained in Kenya trying to fight with the militant Al-Shabaab so will, of course, have been on their radar.

Both men were converts to Islam in their late teens, but even the police aren’t sure how they became radicalised or how they met each other.

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee are now investigating what the security and intelligence agencies’ prior knowledge was of the murderers.

There are thousands of people in the UK with radical views, and the Security Service and police are clear that while many plots are thwarted, not every one can be stopped.

But Cressida Dick, Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism, said if they decided, with hindsight, other decisions could have been made, she would apologise to Lee Rigby's family.

The worry for the police and security service is that it appears these men were 'self-starters'.

They were not directed by a terror network. They became radicalised, and decided to attack a soldier. Any soldier.

That ended with that bloody day in Woolwich and the murder of Lee Rigby.