One of the suspected killers who attempted to behead and disembowel a young soldier in the horrific Woolwich attack had listened to the preachings of a radical Muslim cleric banned from Britain over extremist activities, including alleged links to al-Qa’ida, The Independent has learnt.
The cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has been secretly filmed stating that decapitation of the enemies of Islam was permitted. Today, in comments met with outrage, he told The Independent that he could understand the feeling of rage that had motivated the attackers and that what they had done could be justified under certain interpretations of Islam.
Michael Adebolajo, a British-Muslim convert of Nigerian origin who gave a video interview with a meat cleaver in his bloodied hands while the body of 25-year-old Drummer Lee Rigby lay on the street behind him, declared that he was fighting for “Almighty Allah”.
Last night the second suspect was understood to be Michael Adebowale, 22, of Greenwich.
Mr Bakri Muhammed, who now lives in Lebanon, told The Independent: “I saw the film and we could see that he [the suspect] was being very courageous.
“Under Islam this can be justified, he was not targeting civilians, he was taking on a military man in an operation. To people around here [in the Middle East] he is a hero for what he has done.”
Mr Bakri Muhammed said of the suspect: “I knew him as Michael when he came to the meetings and then he converted and he became known as Abdullah; I hear he then started calling himself Mujahid. He asked questions about religion, he was curious. He had first started coming when there was a lot of anger about the Iraq war and the war on terror. Whether I influenced him or not, I do not know. But he was a quiet boy, so something must have happened.”
This is the only photo of Bakri Muhammed I could find