Making no attempt to escape, Michael Adebolajo stands at the scene of his crime outside a London army barracks, a blood-streaked meat cleaver in his hand, the mutilated corpse of soldier Lee Rigby at his feet, and explains exactly why he's done what he's done, on camera:
"The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers... it's an eye for an eye... By Allah, we swear by almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting until you leave us alone." (DIY terror, Deborah Snow & Nick Miller, Sydney Morning Herald, 25/5/13)
Could he have made his motive any clearer? And yet the Australian media's just not listening. All you ever hear is the refrain: in the name of religion/ in the name of Islam.
But this murder really isn't about religion. Adebolajo didn't say: Islam made me/us do it.
It's about British war crimes against his co-religionists in Afghanistan and elsewhere:
"Britain's military police... have started at least 126 investigations into incidents in which British troops are alleged to have killed or injured Afghan civilians since January 2005... The Guardian has calculated that around 90 civilians, including women and children, were killed or wounded in the investigations and prosecutions listed here. However the actual number of casualties at the centre of the 126 investigations is likely to be much higher as the MoD has kept secret details of more than half the investigations." (Afghanistan: list of investigations & prosecutions of British troops, DataBlog, Rob Evans, The Guardian, 30/3/12)
No historical parallel is exact but I'm reminded here of the case of the young Polish-German Jew, Herschel Grynszpan. In 1938, Grynszpan shot dead the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris. Crucially, he made no attempt to get away, explaining that he'd acted to avenge persecuted German Jews. A postcard in his pocket read:
"With God's help. My dear parents, I could not do otherwise, may God forgive me, the heart bleeds when I hear of your tragedy and that of the 12,000 Jews.* I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do. Forgive me. Hermann [his German name]."
[*Herschel was referring to the deportation by the Nazis of Jews of Polish origin. The Poles refused to accept them, leaving them stranded on the border.]
The German press, of course, spun the murder as an attack by "the Jews on the German people," and it was used as a pretext for the massive anti-Jewish pogrom of Kristallnacht ('Night of Broken Glass').
Now we know why the Nazis got the murder of vom Rath wrong. But why are we getting the murder of Lee Rigby wrong?
[NB: All my data on Grynszpan, including the quotations, comes from Wikipedia.]