The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has identified Drummer Lee Rigby as the British soldier killed in Wednesday’s London cleaver attack.
Rigby, a 25-year-old member of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed Wednesday by a pair of cleaver-wielding men in broad daylight, in front of a crowd in the Woolwich section of London. Witnesses say Rigby’s attackers shouted “Allah” as they hacked him to death.
London police have arrested two men, one of them a British citizen named Michael Adebolajo, in the murder. After the crime, Adebolajo railed -- on a video made by a witness -- against the British government, using rhetoric similar to what can be heard in Muslim "martyrdom" videos.
“We must fight them as they fight us: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to witness this today, but in our lands, our women have to see the same,” Adebolajo said in a video obtained exclusively by British outlet ITV News. “You people will never be safe.”
Rigby, known as “Riggers” to his friends, joined the army in 2006, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement. He served in the war in Afghanistan, and was described as “an extremely popular and witty soldier.
“Drummer Rigby was a larger-than-life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers,” the statement added. “He was a passionate and life-long Manchester United fan.” He leaves behind a 2-year-old son, named Jack.
On Thursday, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond condemned the killing. "Everyone in defence is shocked and saddened by the events of yesterday," Hammond said, according to BBC News.
"This was a senseless murder of a soldier who has served the Army faithfully in a variety of roles including operational tours in Afghanistan. Our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones who are trying to come to terms with this terrible loss."
Capt. Alan Williamson, who served as Rigby’s platoon commander from 2010 to 2011, expressed his condolences as well. “His loss will be felt across the battalion, but this is nothing compared to how his family must be feeling at this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with them,” Williamson said in a statement. “Once a Fusilier, always a Fusilier.”