One of the alleged killers of soldier Lee Rigby has told a court he loves al Qaida and considers the terror group to be "his brothers".
Michael Adebolajo, 28, began giving evidence at the Old Bailey today, surrounded by five security guards in oak-pannelled Court Two.
He and Michael Adebowale, 22, are accused of murdering Fusilier Rigby by running him down with a car and then hacking him to death with a meat cleaver and knives near Woolwich Barracks in south east London on May 22.
The soldier's relatives sat feet away as Adebolajo spoke to the court.
Asked who al Qaida were by his counsel, David Gottlieb, Adebolajo replied: "Al Qaida, I consider to be Mujahideen. I love them, they're my brothers. I have never met them. I consider them my brothers in Islam."
He added: "Mujahideen are the army of Allah."
Adebolajo told the court that he took the name Mujahid, meaning fighter, in 2002 or 2003.
"Growing up I never did think of killing a man. This is not the type of thing that the average child thinks of and I was no different.
"When a soldier joins the Army he perhaps has in his head an understanding that he will kill a man at some stage. When I became a mujahid I was aware that perhaps I might end up killing a soldier."
In 2010 he tried to travel to Somalia but was captured in Kenya and brought back to the UK.
Adebolajo said: "There's a lot more to the story but I won't mention that."
He told the jury that he and Adebowale prayed to Allah that they would attack a soldier and not a civilian.
"To be 100 per cent, I don't believe there's a way to know 100 per cent that was a soldier, however there were some steps that we took. For example before we started out on that day and the night previous to that I started worshipping Allah and begging him that ... we strike a soldier and a soldier only."
Adebolajo earlier told the jury that he used to attend demonstrations "in the hope it might make a difference".
He added: "I was somewhat naive."
Adebolajo told the court that at one demonstration he was arrested and sent to prison.
He said that in his cell he realised the demonstrations were "impotent rage".
"In reality, no demonstration will make a difference," he added.
Adebolajo said that, while he was not a member of any group, the demonstrations were organised by al-Muhajiroun.
Mr Gottlieb told the jury that the group was proscribed under the UK Terrorism Act.
Adebolajo discussed Anjem Choudary and said he thought he was a "good man" but he disagreed with some of his views.
Adebolajo said he handed a letter to an eyewitness to make it clear that the events happened "for one reason and one reason only - that's foreign policy".
He said: "The life of this one soldier might save the lives of many, many people, not just from Muslim lands but from this country."
Adebolajo said he asked people at the scene at Woolwich Barracks to film him to "make it clear to everybody why the soldier lost his life" and "how this can be avoided in the future".
Adebolajo told the jury that having a wife and children was not an excuse not to fight.
He said "Allah might throw me in the hellfire" if he did not fight for this reason.
Asked why he ran at the police when they arrived, he said: "I was almost certain that I would be shot to death."
Adebolajo said he had "nothing but admiration" for the firearms officers who applied first aid after he was shot.
Turning to his hospital treatment, he said: "I believe this country, from what I experienced, we have the best nurses on the planet."
"They show so much kindness to me while I was handcuffed to my bed," he said. "In Islam we respect this, but we don't respect oppressors."
Adebolajo told the court a number of times: "I am a soldier."
He also said he was shocked at how long it took for Fusilier Rigby's body to be buried.
"It shocked me to the core. I thought surely he would be buried by now, because obviously he's a soldier like myself, and in Islam we bury our deceased immediately."
The 28-year-old told the jury that he has no complaint against the police marksman who shot him in the wake of the killing.
"When I read the statements of the armed officers, I thought maybe they thought I was going to be a jobsworth, trying to claim some type of compensation because my humerus was shattered etc etc.
"It was a man who shot me, the female she Tasered me. I have no grievance with them, they are not the ones who are killing Muslims. They are just doing their duty."
When asked what his defence to the charge of murder is, Adebolajo said: "I'm a soldier. I'm a soldier of Allah and I understand that some people might not recognise this because we do not wear fatigues and we do not go to the Brecon Beacons and train and this sort of thing. But we are still soldiers in the sight of Allah as a mujahid.
"This is all that matters, if Allah considers me a soldier, then I am a soldier."
He said he should be ransomed back to other jihadi fighters, set free or killed if he is found guilty.
"As an enemy soldier, I believe I should be ransomed to my mujahid brothers.
"Or I should be set free, or I should be killed."
Adebolajo said he does not regret what happened to Fusilier Rigby.
He said: "I will never regret obeying the command of Allah. That is all I can say. I'm a mujahid, I'm a soldier, I'm doing what Allah commands me to do. I can't do anything else."