One of the terrorists who butchered Fusilier Lee Rigby to death on the streets of London has been converting his fellow prisoners to Islam, according to a judge. Murderer Michael Adebolajo was described as a "charismatic" and "influential" presence at HMP Belmarsh, where he is serving a minimum of 45 years.
In May 2013, along with accomplice Michael Adebowale, Adebolajo mowed down Rigby near Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, south London, and then hacked him to death with a meat cleaver.
The terror attack was made all the more notorious thanks to a video taken by a bystander in the immediate aftermath, which showed a blood-soaked Adebolajo declaring himself a soldier of Islam pitted in a religious war against the British Army.
His words and actions were roundly condemned by Muslim leaders around the world.
Now a judge has said that the killer is wielding a religious influence on fellow inmates. Speaking at the High Court on 31 October, Mr Justice Langstaff said: "He forms relationships easily – he is charismatic.
"There is intelligence suggesting that he has had some influence on the conversion to Islam of some individuals. There is a large group of people who look up to Adebolajo," Sky News reported.
Experts have warned about the growing threat of radicalisation in Britain's prisons where young men are vulnerable and budget cuts have made it difficult for staff to properly monitor inmates.
Judge Langstaff was hearing details of Adebolajo's life behind bars as the terrorist wants compensation from the Ministry of Justice after he lost two front teeth while being restrained by prison officers.
He is seeking £25,000 ($33,000) for the "distress, loss and damage" he suffered at the hands of the guards. Langstaff will have to decide his case based on whether the amount of force used by the prison officers was justified.
Adebolajo may have to represent himself as he has so far not been provided with legal aid by the government. Langstaff said it would be "all the better" if public funds could be allocated to Adebolajo's defence.
He added: "If and when this case comes to trial it will be a great pity to justice, and in particular the presentation of the claimant's case, if some means were not found to ensure he had professional help."
Speaking previously about her son's killer's compensation bid, Lyn Rigby said: "This is gut-wrenching for me, my family and Lee's memory. Adebolajo shows not a single ounce of remorse or regret for the life he took or the family he destroyed.
"And still he holds his hand out for blood money. He hasn't suffered. He doesn't know the meaning of pain."