The man with bloodied hands, clutching a long knife and what appears to be a well-used butcher’s cleaver, delivered a message that will strike terror into many communities across Britain: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you,” he said.
Delivering his filmed message to the British people, he sought to explain why he attacked an out-of-uniform soldier walking on a street in Woolwich, southeast London, apparently trying to decapitate him.
“The only reasons we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day,” he continued. “This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth.
“We apologise that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
Apology to passers
The extraordinary film of the attack was obtained by ITV News.
In it, a black man, dressed in a grey hooded jacket and black woolly hat and speaking in a clear London accent, apologises to passersby who witnessed the hacking of the victim before making a number of statements, seeking to explain his motivation for the murder.
“We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” he said.
An onlooker named as James said he saw two black men chopping at a man in his 20s like he was “a piece of meat”. He told LBC radio: “They were hacking at this poor guy, literally. They were hacking at him, chopping him, cutting him.”
Describing the murderers as “animals”, he told how he saw them drag their victim from the pavement into the middle of the road. “These two guys were crazed,” he said, as he fought back tears.
They then stood around, waving knives and a gun, asking people nearby to take pictures of them “as if they wanted to be on TV or something”. He said they were running up and down the road, urging people to take pictures.
Joe Tallant (20), another local resident, described how a friend’s mother comforted the dying victim. He claimed that the attackers told her “no man is coming near this body” as they asked onlookers to take photographs of them. It was unclear last night if the TV film was made by an onlooker or one of the attackers but both men appear to have been anxious that their deed be recorded.
“It was like they wanted to be famous or something but in a stupid way,” said Mr Tallant.
He added that when the police came, the two men walked towards the officers and a female officer shot them.
A woman who came upon the scene after police arrived described what she saw. “My husband said there’s two people trying to resuscitate someone,” said Julia Wilders. “We parked and walked back to have a look and all of a sudden a tall black bloke come up with a gun. My husband said, ‘Get back, get back’ and we called the police.”
She said one man had a black handgun pointed down and a crowd soon gathered. Her husband Graham called the police to alert them to what they believed was an accident.
“After we called the police I went over to the school to let the school know so the kids wouldn’t come out,” she said. “I walked back up there and the tall black bloke had changed the gun to the other guy and he had two meat cleavers in his hand. And the response police turned up and he’s ran towards them with meat cleavers before I could even get out of the car so they shot him. And then the other one lifts the gun up and they shot him as well.”
Last night, the Muslim Council of Britain said: “This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family.
“We understand the victim is a serving member of the armed forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s Armed Forces, proudly and with honour. This attack on a member of the Armed Forces is dishonourable and no cause justifies this murder.”