The British soldier killed by Islamists in a machete attack in London yesterday has been named as Drummer Lee Rigby, aged 25, from Manchester. He was married with a two-year-old son. In addition to performing ceremonial duties as a drummer with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Drummer Rigby had served in Afghanistan.
Also today it was revealed that the two men who murdered Drummer Rigby were Britons of Nigerian descent, who were known to the security services. One of the men has been identified as 28-year-old Michael Adebolajo, a Muslim convert — it was Adebolajo who was seen justifying the killing in a video shot by an eyewitness shortly after the attack.
Police raided five addresses in London, and the home of Adebolajo’s father in Lincolnshire. They arrested a man and a woman on suspicion of conspiracy to murder, the first indication that the killers may not have been “lone wolves.”
The similarities with last month’s Boston bombings are striking. The perpetrators of both attacks are “home-grown” terrorists, and like the Tsarnaev brothers the London terrorists appear to have had associates, but not to have been part of a large recognized group. As was the case with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Adebolajo and his accomplice had come to the attention of the security services, but appear to have slipped through the net, provoking criticism in sections of the UK press.
While the pressure cooker bombs used by the Tsarnaevs were sophisticated devices compared to the knives and machete used by the London killers, both attacks were relatively crude affairs compared to previous plots, both successful and unsuccessful. While there’s no suggestion of a link between Boston and London, it appears that Islamists have figured out they’re less likely to be apprehended if plots are kept relatively small and simple, with as few people as possible involved — Nidal Hasan’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood was another example.
Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the attacks in a speech this morning, and said the British people would “never give in to terror or terrorism.” He also paid tribute to Cub Scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, who in a remarkable act of bravery confronted the killers, and kept them talking in a bid to stop them attacking anyone else.
In other developments today, the Ministry of Defence was forced into a U-turn after announcing that members of the armed forces should not wear their uniforms in public. The decision was reversed after complaints that it could be construed as caving in to terrorism. Meanwhile the website of the charity Help for Heroes, which raises money for injured servicemen, crashed after it was swamped with donations; Drummer Rigby was wearing one of the charity’s T-shirts when he was killed, and the outpouring of support for the British Army that we’ve seen today is a fitting tribute to him.
More: Drummer Lee Rigby