Two homegrown terrorists who tried to bring holy war to Britain by beheading soldier Lee Rigby in the street face spending the rest of their lives behind bars today (thurs).
Muslim converts Michael Adebolajo, who turned 29 today, and Michael Adebowale, 22, butchered the 25 year-old Fusilier to death 'like a piece of meat' in a bid to spark a wave of extremist violence across the country.
Spotting Drummer Rigby walking towards Woolwich Barracks, they rammed their car into him from behind at 40mph before mutilating his body as he lay defenceless with a broken back.
In a final indignity the father-of-one was dragged into the middle of the road on public display just yards from a primary school while the killers ranted to passers-by about their extremist views while armed with a gun, knives and a meat cleaver.
The shocking murder led to fears that far-right groups might launch reprisals on the Muslim community in the UK.
Possible failures by the security services to prevent the attack are now being examined by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.
Adebolajo, a former associate of hate preacher Anjem Choudary and the banned group Al Muhajiroun, was well known to MI5 after being arrested on his way to Somalia to train and fight jihad two years earlier.
Adebowale, a former gang member and drug dealer, also attended demonstrations by extremist Muslim groups.
Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, said she would apologise to the family of Lee Rigby if it was needed but insisted that if they had known anything about the plan they would have 'done everything in our power to stop it.'
Detectives believe that the killers were rogue terrorists who appeared to be acting alone without orders from overseas or with the help of other extremists.
The case also raises fears about potential terrorists being radicalised on the internet and that extremists are deliberately recruiting gang members and other criminals in prison.
Adebowale and Adebolajo were convicted of the murder of Lee Rigby after a three-week trial that to many appeared to be a judicial farce.
Adebolajo's barrister David Gottlieb appeared to sob as he told the jury the killer was 'honest, upright and honourable.'
Both accepted killing the soldier but fought the case so that they could publicise their extremist views about British foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The jury took just 90 minutes to find the two men guilty of murder but acquit the pair of attempted murder of a police officer.
They had already pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.
Members of the soldier's family wept hysterically as the verdicts were announced.
Adebolajo and Adebowale now face being sentenced to a 'whole life order' because the murder was carried out 'for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause'.
Adebolajo admitted that he carried out the attack to pressure the Government into changing British foreign policy.
The trial revealed that the murder involved little preparation and that Lee Rigby was apparently chosen at random.
Detectives said there was no evidence that the two men were following any other soldiers in the two days before the murder.
Just twenty-four hours before the attack, Adebolajo walked into the Argos store in Lewisham and paid £24.99 for a five-piece block of kitchen knives.
At 8am on 22 May this year he drove to a Tesco petrol station to fill up his car with petrol, only to realise he did not have any money or bank cards.
He left his white mobile phone, but not the Koran in his pocket, as a deposit while he returned home.
At 8.48am he went back to the garage and paid for the petrol and a mobile phone top up card in cash.
Adebolajo then drove his Vauxhall Tigra car towards Adebowale's home before the pair embarked on their plan at around 1pm.
They drove towards Woolwich, passing the scene of the murder but not the entrance to Woolwich barracks, before stopping and paying for a parking ticket on Wellington Street.
Drummer Rigby had arrived at Woolwich Arsenal DLR station at 2.10pm and walked down Wellington Street towards the Barracks wearing a 'Help for Heroes' top and carrying an Army day sack.
Minutes later the killers were captured on CCTV slowly up to the junction of Wellington Street and Artillery Place and stopping at the traffic lights.
When the lights turned green the Vauxhall Tigra moved away slowly before suddenly accelerating into Drummer Rigby as he crossed Artillery Place towards a shop.
The soldier was thrown on to the bonnet before falling to the floor with a broken back and ribs.
According to witnesses driving past the scene, Lee Rigby remained 'frozen' with his eyes open while Adebolajo walked up to him, grabbed his head and began hacking at his neck with the cleaver.
Adebowale, after struggling to get out of the car following its collision with a signpost, started stabbing the soldier in the stomach.
Several witnesses mistakenly believed they were attempting to resuscitate a car crash victim before realising the horrendous truth.
Amanda Bailey, who stopped her car opposite the scene, said in a statement: 'It was just crazy. I was so shocked that all I could do was sit there and stare at what was happening.
'He was determined and wasn't going to stop. It was broad daylight and this man didn't care who was there and who wasn't there.'
Miss Bailey was one of the members of the public who managed to warn a group of young schoolchildren and teachers not to approach the scene.
Another witness, Gill Hicks, 'lost it' and began screaming hysterically while Sarah Riordan, who was seven weeks away from giving birth, started experiencing contractions and had to take refuge on a bus.
Although CCTV cameras did not capture the attempted beheading, Adebolajo was seen dragging the body into the road in front of traffic.
While waiting for police to arrive, the two killers brandished the bloodstained knives and unloaded revolver to prevent 'have-a-go-heroes' interfering.
Despite the horrific scene, several brave women who became known as the 'Woolwich Angels', approached to talk to the killers and protect the body from further mutilation.
Adebolajo handed one of them, Amanda Donnelly Martin, his suicide note containing the message: 'If you find yourself curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns then know it is simply retaliation for your oppression in our towns.
'When the heat of battle reaches YOUR local street its unlikely that any of your so called politicians will be at risk or caught in the crossfire so I suggest you remove them.
'Remove them and replace them with people who will secure your safety by the immediate withdrawal from the affairs of the Muslims.'
Adebolajo was also filmed on a member of the public's mobile phone delivering his rant: 'The only reason we're doing this is Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers and this British soldier is one of them so an eye for an eye.
'We will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone. When you drop a bomb do you think it picks one person to kill or wipes out a whole family. We must fight - an eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth.'
Police officers and paramedics were kept behind a cordon until specialist firearms officers arrived with Glock 17 self-loading pistols, Tasers and Heckler and Koch MP5 carbines.
Adebolajo was shot in the arm by officer E48 only a yard from the car and Adebowale was shot in the stomach and thigh by officer E42 as he aimed a rusty 1920s 9.4mm KNIL model 91 revolver.
Adebowale was then shot in the hand as he attempted to aim the gun again while lying on the floor.
Both claimed they did not intend to kill the police officers and were hoping they would be shot dead so they could be accepted as martyrs in paradise.
Adebolajo later explained in police interview: 'We decided to wait in the vicinity of the barracks that is in Woolwich.
'Between us we decided that the soldier is the most fair target because he joins the army with king of an understanding that your life is at risk when you join the army.
'So we sat in wait and it just so happened that he was the soldier that was spotted first.
'Almost as if Allah had chosen him for some reason he chose to cross in front of our vehicle, it happened so quickly you know.'
In his evidence during the trial he claimed he loved Al Qaeda and told jurors: 'I am a soldier and this is war.'
Mr Gottlieb, who has forged a career taking on 'hopeless cases', also put in a bizarre performance full of legal errors, irrelevant literary references and screeching microphone feedback.
He compared Adebolajo to a pedigree racehorse who lashed out and killed someone after being forced to work hauling slate from a quarry.
Prosecutor Richard Whittam QC more accurately described the murder as 'cowardly and callous... in distinct contrast to the bravery and decency shown by some of the members of the public present.'
Adebowale, also known as Ismail Ibn Abdullah, of [Flat 21] Macey House, Thames Street, Greenwich, and Adebolajo, also known as Mujaahid Abu Hamza, of [Flat 23] Greenwich House, Oakwood Close, Lewisham, both denied murder and attempted murder of a police officer.
The jury were discharged from reaching a verdict on the charge of conspiracy to murder a police officer because the offence was covered by the attempted murder charge.
MEMO: Dates of birth. Adebowale: 6/5/91. Adebolajo: 19/12/84.