One of two men accused of murdering a British soldier in broad daylight on a London street said on Monday that he loved the Islamic militant group al Qaeda as he gave evidence for the first time.
Michael Adebolajo, 28, and co-defendant Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of running over soldier Lee Rigby, 25, as he crossed a street in Woolwich, southeast London, in May before attacking his unconscious body with a meat cleaver and knives.
The prosecution has said the two suspects then dragged Rigby's body into the middle of the road for as many people to see as possible.
Adebolajo, giving evidence in the Old Bailey court, expressed his admiration for al Qaeda under questioning by his defence lawyer and in the presence of Rigby's family.
"I consider them a group of mujahideen (holy fighters)," said Adebolajo, giving his name as Mujaahid Abu Hamza and confirming to the court he was married with six children.
"I love them. They are my brothers. I have never met them but I love them."
The court also heard that Adebolajo prayed to Allah the night before the attack on Rigby, a veteran of the Afghan war, and asked him to ensure only a soldier would be killed.
"I stayed up worshipping Allah and begging him that he make the mission a success and that we strike a soldier, and a soldier only," he said.
Both Adebolajo and Adebowale deny murder.
Rigby's murder horrified Britain and provoked an anti-Muslim backlash. The trial is expected to last three weeks.