Lee Rigby murder trial: Michael Adebowale offers no evidence in his defence stating ‘I’m a soldier just like Drummer Rigby… I killed him because this is war’

December 2013

 

Michael Adebowale, 22, was the front seat passenger in the car that rammed the soldier before he got out of the damaged car and attacked the prone man’s body with knives, witnesses have told the court. His co-defendant, Michael Adebolajo, 29, claimed earlier this week that he was a soldier of Allah fighting a war because British troops were in Muslim countries.

He accepts that he attacked Fusilier Rigby, 25, near Woolwich barracks, southeast London, and tried to cut off his head with a cleaver. But he claimed that he pulled Mr Adebowale away from the body when the younger man started attacking him because the soldier was already dead.

Mr Adebowale’s legal team said yesterday that it would not be calling any other witnesses for his defence. “The evidence is now over. It means that the second defendant has chosen neither to give nor to call any evidence,” the trial judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, told the jury of eight women and four men. “You are not to draw any inference adverse to him from the fact that he has chosen not to give evidence.”

Mr Adebowale had claimed that the two men argued over who would carry the gun because they believed that the person who had the gun was more likely to be killed by police and achieve their goal of martyrdom. “To be killed on the battlefield is not something we shy away from and in fact this is something that Allah loves,” he told police during interviews played to the court last week. He said that he had “obeyed the command of Allah” to kill a serviceman.

The man accused of killing and trying to behead Fusilier Lee Rigby declared his love for al-Qaida in court on Monday and claimed he was a soldier for Allah in an ongoing war against the British military.

“I’m a soldier and this is war,” said Mr Adebolajo in evidence to the court on Monday. “Basically it is a war between Islam and those militaries that invade Muslim lands. One of them just happens to be the British military and therefore the war continues even to this day.”

Seated just yards from the family of his victim, Michael Adebolajo, 28, told the Old Bailey that he had no regrets about launching the attack on the defenceless soldier as he crossed the road near his barracks in Woolwich, south-east London. “I will never regret obeying the command of Allah so that’s all I can say,” he told a packed courtroom. “I’m a mujahid, I’m a soldier: I do what Allah commands me to do. I can’t do anything else.”

During comments directed towards the Rigby family, Mr Adebolajo accepted that he killed somebody that they loved. “I just hope that soldier’s life and his death might prevent the deaths of other soldiers who are being sent to die in unjust wars and save the lives of Muslims who are being bombed and killed by British forces,” he said.

Mr Adebolajo and Mr Adebowale both deny murder and attempted murder of a police officer. The case continues.

 

The Independent:

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/dec/09/lee-rigby-murder-accused-adebolajo-religion-is-everything

The Telegraph:

Report calls for female genital mutilation to be treated as child abuse

November 3, 2013

 

Thousands of girls in danger of genital mutilation are being failed by the health and justice systems, a coalition of health professionals has warned in a report that recommends aggressive steps to eradicate the practice in the UK. Female genital mutilation (FGM) should be treated the same as any other kind of child abuse and evidence of it must be reported to the police, according to the report. Janet Fyle, a policy adviser of the Royal College of Midwives and one of the report’s authors, said that just as it was inconceivable that a health worker would not report evidence of child abuse to the police, it should be equally important to report evidence of FGM.

According to the report more than 66,000 women in England and Wales have undergone FGM and more than 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of it. Despite its regular occurrence, FGM has not resulted in a prosecution in Britain, whereas in France there have been about 100.

FGM is carried out in Africa and the Middle East by Muslims and non-Muslims. It predates Islam and is not called for in the Qur’an although it mostly occurs in countries that became Islamic. In countries such as Somalia and Egypt more than 90% of women have undergone some kind of FGM but it is also common in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali and Sierra Leone. Although FGM has been outlawed in the UK since 1985, migrants from countries where FGM is common have continued the practice here or by taking girls to their home countries for it to be performed. Since 2003, Britons can be prosecuted for acts of FGM abroad.

The report recommends that health workers identify girls at risk and treat them as if they were at risk of child abuse. Girls at risk are defined as girls born to a woman who has undergone FGM or a child who lives closely with someone who has. The report clearly emphasises the importance of an individual’s safety over the respect for religious and racial sensibilities, a point welcomed by Shaista Gohir, the chairwoman of the Muslim Women’s Network.

Sarian Karim, a 36-year-old community worker from Peckham, south London, who suffered FGM as an 11-year-old in Sierra Leone, welcomed the report. “FGM is a normal thing for us. We don’t know it is against the law, but I know that it damages girls and leaves them scarred for life – mentally and physically. “It is very important that everyone knows that FGM is illegal. We suffer from a lot of complications [because of the procedure]. “We want those people who work in schools to have guidelines and be able to inform, prepare and protect children.”

 

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/04/uk-mutilation-girls-report

‘Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism’ by Karima Bennoune

Whenever a terrorist attack happens in the West, one of the standard responses in some media circles is to denounce Muslims for not doing enough to speak out against extremism. In “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here,” University of California at Davis law professor and human rights activist Karima Bennoune shows that in fact, thousands of Muslims fight extremist violence every day.

Those who look under every rock for evidence of creeping sharia in the United States might be surprised to learn that most fundamentalist violence disproportionately affects people in Muslim-majority societies. Bennoune leverages surprising statistics, such as a 2009 study by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point that found that only 15 percent of al-Qaeda casualties between 2004 and 2008 were Westerners. And between 2006 and 2008, 98 percent of al-Qaeda’s victims were Muslim.

Bennoune offers a compelling, meticulously researched account of the legions of Muslims whose struggles against fundamentalist violence are almost never reported in our media. She cites her father, Mahfoud Bennoune, as her inspiration for writing this book. An outspoken Algerian social science professor and critic of extremists, he was placed on a death list during that country’s civil war in the 1990s, a conflict in which more than 150,000 people were killed. “My father’s country,” she writes, “showed me . . . that the struggle waged in Muslim majority societies against extremism is one of the most important — and overlooked — human rights struggles in the world.”

Bennoune feels that academics are overly sympathetic to the notion that “Islamists represent ordinary people, and their opponents are simply elite.” Throughout the book, she describes numerous occasions when Western liberals have championed Islamists as the democratic choice of the masses, even when there has been documented evidence of the same Islamist groups violating human rights or ignoring democratic principles once elected.

NYC defends Muslim surveillance in court; plaintiffs say suspicions were based on innuendo

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department had legitimate reasons to put specific mosques and Muslim worshippers under surveillance as part of its counterterrorism efforts, a city lawyer said Thursday at the first court date in a civil rights lawsuit accusing the NYPD of religious profiling.

Peter Farrell of the city Law Department argued that before the case goes forward, the city should be allowed to present evidence specific to the six plaintiffs that he said would prove police were acting with legitimate law enforcement purposes. If the judge agrees, “then this case is over,” he said.

An American Civil Liberties Union attorney, Hina Shamsi, countered that her clients already had sufficient legal standing to sue the city and that the NYPD should be ordered to begin turning over sensitive reports and documents detailing the alleged spying on Muslims.

In a letter filed on Tuesday, city lawyers outlined evidence they say shows that a security team at a mosque named as a plaintiff in the suit sponsored survival training outings and referred to team members as “jihad warriors.” Another plaintiff mosque was frequented by a man convicted earlier this year of lying to the FBI about plans to team up with the Taliban or al-Qaida, the letter said.

The NYPD didn’t target particular mosques “simply because the attendees were Muslim,” the letter said. “Rather, the NYPD followed leads suggesting that certain individuals in certain mosques may be engaging in criminal and possibly terrorist activity.”

In response, the ACLU accused the city of vilifying its clients “through inflammatory and insinuation and innuendo, suggesting (they) are worthy of criminal investigation on the basis of First Amendment-protected speech, activities or attenuated — and unwitting — association alone.”

It added: “This strategy is a deliberate distraction at best. At worst, it verges on the very type of discriminatory and meritless profiling at the heart of this case.”

Muslim woman Rebekah Dawson must remove niqab while giving evidence, judge rules

Rebekah Dawson arrives at courtJudge Peter Murphy made the ruling in the case of Muslim convert Rebekah Dawson, who is facing trial for allegedly intimidating a witness. The 22-year-old had claimed her religious beliefs dictated that no male other than her husband could see her face. Lawyers for the defendant had argued that forcing the 22-year-old convert to remove her niqab in court would be a breach of her rights under Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. But in a lengthy ruling, Judge Murphy said it was of “cardinal importance” to the adversarial system that a jury could see a defendant’s face while giving evidence. The issue first arose when Mrs Dawson refused to lift her veil in order to identify herself at a plea and case management hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court. The case was adjourned until last week when a compromise was reached and the judge allowed a female police officer to identify her in the privacy of a side room.

 

During his ruling, the judge revealed that Mrs Dawson, who was referred to as D, had only worn the veil since May 2012. But he said his decision would have been the same if she had worn it for years accepting that her feelings on the issue were sincere.

He went on: “I accept for the purposes of this judgment that D sincerely takes the view that as a Muslim woman, she is either not permitted or chooses not to uncover her face in the presence of men who are not members of her close family. I have been given no reason to doubt the sincerity of her belief.”

 

But in a lengthy ruling handed down today Judge Murphy said the ability for a jury to see a defendant’s demeanour during cross-examination was a principle part of the adversarial trial system. He said while the defendant would have to remove her niqab while giving evidence, screens could be erected or video links used to ensure she was only visible to the judge, the jury and counsel. He also ruled that court artists would not be permitted to sketch the defendant when her veil was removed. “No tradition or practice, whether religious or otherwise, can claim to occupy such a privileged position that the rule of law, open justice and the adversarial trial process are sacrificed to accommodate it. That is not a discrimination against religion; it is a matter of upholding the rule of law in a democratic society.”

Solicitors for Mrs Dawson have said they are considering their position but it is possible they could ask for a judicial review of the ruling.

 

Three held over mosque arson attack

Three teenagers have been arrested by police investigating an arson attack on a mosque. Officers were alerted to the alleged incident at the Harlow Islamic Centre in Essex last month after locals discovered evidence of the attempt when they attended morning prayers.

 

Two 16-year-old boys and one aged 17, all from Harlow, have been arrested on suspicion of arson and bailed until October 30 pending further inquiries. A 28-year-old man from Harlow had previously been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with this incident and is also on police bail.

 

Detectives are still keen to speak to witnesses in connection with the fire. Anyone with information is asked to contact officers at Harlow CID on 101.

 

Fort Hood prosecutors hope to address motive in worst mass shooting ever on US military base

FORT HOOD, Texas — The prosecutors pursuing the death penalty against the Army psychiatrist accused in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting rampage will soon begin trying to answer a difficult but key question: Why did Maj. Nidal Hasan attack his fellow soldiers in the worst mass shooting ever on a U.S. military base?

 

Both sides offered a few hints so far. Although he’s been mostly silent in the courtroom, Hasan used his brief opening statement to tell jurors he had “switched sides” in what he called America’s war with Islam; he later leaked documents to the media showing he believed he could be a martyr.

Military prosecutors opened the trial by saying they would show that Hasan felt he had a “jihad duty,” referring to a Muslim term for a religious war or struggle. After calling almost 80 witnesses over two weeks, prosecutors said Friday they would begin tackling the question this week.

Hasan — who is acting as his own attorney — told jurors during a barely one-minute opening statement that evidence “will clearly show that I am the shooter,” but he said it wouldn’t tell the whole story.

 

Since then, his defense has been nearly non-existent. He questioned only two of prosecutors’ witnesses and didn’t object to hundreds of pieces of evidence.

 

Among those likely to pay especially close attention are victims pressing the federal government to formally acknowledge the Fort Hood shootings as an act of terror, not workplace violence, and provide more benefits.

 

“We’re very interested to see whether and to what extent the government pursues Hasan’s jihadism,” said Reed Rubinstein, an attorney for the victims. “It would be welcome if the prosecutor would make very explicit the fact that this was a jihadist attack. This was terrorism.”

 

Rubinstein is much less interested in what Hasan has to say.

 

“He’s certainly said and done enough, thank you,” he said.

Suspected bomb found near Wolverhampton mosque

A suspected bomb has been found near a Wolverhampton mosque, making it the third explosive device targeting Muslims in the West Midlands in a month. Police said traces of an explosion and debris consistent with a detonation were found close to Wolverhampton Central Mosque on Friday. Two Ukrainian engineering students aged 22 and 25 respectively on work placements at a hi-tech computer company were being questioned yesterday after police revealed they had uncovered evidence of a third bombing close to a mosque in the West Midlands.

 

Police evacuated streets near the Wolverhampton Central Mosque on Thursday night after receiving information about “a possible device activation”.

 

An officer had spotted and arrested one of the men in Small Heath, Birmingham, which led to the arrest of the second man nearby and the sealing off of roads for searches to be carried out by bomb disposal teams. The pair were being held on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism. The arrest of the two men was followed by searches of their home and work addresses on Thursday afternoon.

 

“The investigation is being led by specialist officers and staff from our counter-terrorism unit who are being supported by a range of departments from across the force.

Terror police investigating nail bomb attack at mosque

The homemade device exploded near the Kanz Ul Iman Masjid mosque in Tipton, West Midlands, shortly after 1pm – when up to 200 worshippers would normally have been in the area for Friday prayers. However, the prayers had been moved back an hour because of Ramadan and no one was injured in the blast. The bomb, which was left on a disused railway line behind the mosque, showered the area with nails and other debris. Police were last night treating the explosion as a terrorist incident and were investigating whether there are any links to a small explosion near a mosque in nearby Walsall last month.

 

Residents in Tipton believed the attack had also been timed to coincide with the day of the funeral of Drummer Rigby in Bury. The soldier died in an alleged Islamic terror attack in Woolwich, east London, in May. Adrian Bailey, the local MP, said: “Given that it is Drummer Lee Rigby’s funeral today and previous attacks at mosques across the country, it certainly seems that this may have been connected in some way.” A nail bomb had exploded shortly after 1pm, when the mosque is usually at full capacity, but fortunately, as it is Ramadan, prayer times have changed and the devastation and potential loss of life that may have been suffered was avoided.

 

“People were evacuated and a cordon was put in place while officers worked with the army bomb disposal experts and specialist officers and it’s likely that this is an attack given the factors and evidence found already. This includes the loud bang, reports of smoke, the finding of nails and the location of a mosque. From this, we can draw the most likely conclusion that there was a serious explosion and that somebody sought to create a devastating amount of damage. The police are treating this as a terror attack, but we are still working to establish if this is connected to any other incidents that have occurred.”

Abu Qatada will be a free man in Jordan soon, his family predict

Abu Qatada’s family said on Monday they expected to have him home within days and expressed their hopes court proceedings against the controversial cleric would progress smoothly so he could soon return to normal life. Close friends claimed the decade-long fight to deport Qatada from Britain is unlikely to end in a jail term, and said in their opinion he would almost certainly be cleared by the Jordanian courts.

His was twice convicted in absentia for conspiring to engage in terrorist activities in Jordan, and courts there sentenced him to life imprisonment. The same charges were repeated at the State Security Court on Sunday, where Qatada denied all allegations.  His co-conspirators were sentenced and later pardoned by the king. It is this precedent which makes Abu Hanieh optimistic his friend will be freed.  The exclusion of evidence obtained under torture, the prerequisite for Qatada’s return to Jordan, is another reason. “It’s usual to get evidence by torture here,” said Abu Hanieh, who has been imprisoned many times.