A radical Muslim cleric has applauded the ‘courage’ of Woolwich terror suspect Michael Adebolajo  calling him a hero as it was claimed the suspected killer had listened to his preachings.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, who is banned from Britain, is believed to have been secretly filmed saying decapitating those opposed to Islam is allowed.

Last night he told The Independent that he understood why the suspects would have carried out the barbaric attack on Drummer Lee Rigby.

Michael Adebolajo
Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has said he understands why the suspects carried out the attacks

Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has said he understands why the suspects would have carried out the attacks and even called suspect Michael Adebolajo (left) a ‘hero’

He said: ‘I saw the film and we could see that he (the suspect) was being very courageous.

‘Under Islam this can be justified, he was not targeting civilians, he was taking on a military man in an operation. To people around here (in the Middle East) he is a hero.’

Bakri Mohammed has even said he knew Adebolajo personally and converted him to Islam.

According to the cleric, who now lives in exile in Beirut, he owned a stall in London which Adebolajo would visit.

The pair would talk about the ‘meaning of life’ and Adebolajo began attending open talks and meetings.

A man contemplates at a scene where flowers lay

Tears: A man puts down flowers at the scene where Lee Rigby died in Woolwich

Born in Syria, Bakri Mohammed, known as the ‘Tottenham Ayatollah’, claimed asylum in 1986 and set up the Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK.

When he split from the group over disagreements, he went on to set up the Al-Muhajiroun group.

Some of its members are thought to have become suicide bombers.

But after the London bombings in 2005, Bakri Mohammed decided to leave the UK because he was being hounded by authorities.

In 2007, following the conviction of a group of British Pakistanis who had plotted to kidnap and behead a British soldier, a secret recording was made in which he is alleged to have condoned the decapitation of those who oppose Islam.

After Israel carried out attacks on Lebanon, he tried to return to the UK but was informed he would not be allowed.