Murderer Michael Adebolajo: From regular Romford churchgoer to wannabe Islamic martyr

CCTV shown during the trial of Adebolajo and Adebowale (right) as they speak to a member of the publ

CCTV shown during the trial of Adebolajo and Adebowale (right) as they speak to a member of the public. Picture: Metropolitan Police - Credit: PA

Romford murderer Michael Adebolajo, who asked to be known in court as Mujaahid Abu Hamza, was a dedicated jihadi already on the radar of the British security services when he killed Lee Rigby.

Adebolajo was known to the British Secret Service before the killing

Adebolajo was known to the British Secret Service before the killing - Credit: PA

The son of Christian Nigerian immigrants, he was born in Lewisham, south London, and grew up in Eastern Avenue, Romford.

Kirk Redpath and Adebolajo were best friends at secondary school

Kirk Redpath and Adebolajo were best friends at secondary school - Credit: Archant

He went to church every Sunday and was taught about the Bible and Jesus every Saturday by a friend of the family named “Ron”.

Adebolajo went to Marshalls Park School

Adebolajo went to Marshalls Park School - Credit: Archant

After attending Parklands Junior School, in Havering Road, Romford, and Marshalls Park Secondary School, in pettits Lane, he went to Havering Sixth Form College in Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch.

He claimed that most of his schoolfriends were white.

His former friend and fellow Marshalls Park student, Kirk Redpath, joined the Army and was killed by an explosive device in Iraq.

Adebolajo, who said he was “disgusted” by the invasion of Iraq in 2003, converted to Islam in his first year studying building surveying at Greenwich University in south London. He did not complete the course.

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Extremist Omar Bakri Mohammed, then leader of the extremist group Al-Muhajiroun, has since claimed he personally converted Adebolajo.

Adebolajo began regularly attending demonstrations organised by hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who was also a leading member of Al-Muhajiroun before it was banned in 2005.

At one of the protests outside the Old Bailey in 2006 Adebolajo was arrested after punching a female officer in face and a male officer in the groin.

On November 1 that year he was convicted of two counts of assault at City of London Magistrates Court and jailed for 51 days.

In 2009 he was photographed at an English Defence League march.

The following year he attempted to travel to Somali to become a jihadi with the Al Shabaab terrorist group.

He was captured in Kenya and appeared in court but a few days later was deported to the UK.

After his return Adebolajo was approached by MI5 and his family later claimed they were trying to recruit him to spy on extremist groups. His family also claimed his brother, a teacher in Saudi Arabia, was approached by MI6.

Over the next two years Adebolajo continued his radicalisation, building up a library of extremist material including the Al Qaeda magazine “Inspire” and speeches by Al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a drone attack in 2011.

Adebolajo had underlined several passages in a document titled “Extreme Islam” referring to martyrdom, including: “Allah does not like any drop, more than the drop of blood shed in His way. Martyrdom means transfusion of blood into society.”

He also highlighted a passage stating: “That is why Islam is always in need of martyrs. The revival of courage and zeal is essential for the revival of a nation’ and a quotation from Mohammed that “Above every virtue, there is another virtue, but there is no virtue higher than being killed in the way of Allah.”

Another book featured a chapter titled: “The virtues of killing a non-believer for the sake of Allah.”

Adebolajo, who is married with six children, believed his reward would be shahada, or martyrdom, and a place in paradise along with 70 members of his family.

Instead it is likely to be a life sentence with a minimum term of 40 years behind bars.

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