London Terror Attack: Names, Family Tragedy and Deepening Mystery

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Drummer Lee Rigby, of the British Army's 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Ministry of Defence / Handout / Reuters

Drummer Lee Rigby, of the British Army's 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

The whole world witnessed the aftermath of the suspected May 22 terror attack in London. Bystanders filmed and photographed the body of a man, lying in a suburban street, as his apparent killers, not fleeing but seeming to flaunt their work, remained at the scene. But despite this immediacy, the key, human details were missing. Investigators are still a long way from piecing together exactly what happened and why, but details are emerging about the suspects—and the victim. The man so brutally targeted was a soldier, 25-year-old Drummer Lee Rigby. He had a nickname, “Riggers,” and hailed from Manchester. And he had a two-year-old son called Jack.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor MBE, Commanding Officer Second Fusiliers, said in a statement on Thursday that Rigby “was a real character within the Second Fusiliers. Larger than life, he was at the heart of our Corps of Drums.”

Rigby, who joined the army in 2006, had taken up a post with the recruiting team at his regiment’s London headquarters. He had served abroad too, including a dangerous tour of duty in Afghanistan. The suspect in his murder who ranted at a rolling camera phone, bloodied and carrying a cleaver, appeared to suggest service by British military in Muslim countries made all British soldiers such as Rigby legitimate targets.

Sources have put a name to that face too. He is thought to be Michael Olumide Adebolajo, a 28-year-old, according to sources for the Guardian and other British news organizations. Yet every fresh revelation about Adebolajo raises as many questions as answers. Born and bred in Lambeth, a London neighborhood lying south of the Thames, Adebolajo reportedly moved with his family to Romford, in Essex, where he attended Marshalls Park School and Havering Sixth Form college.

Former neighbors describe the Adebolajo family as deeply Christian; “they were,” one man told the Guardian “very pleasant, a very ordinary normal family.” Adebolajo is thought to have converted to Islam a decade ago after he began studying at the University of Greenwich and became involved with the extremist group al-Muhajiroun. Banned after the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks in London, the group continued to operate under new names. Anjem Choudary, the former leader of the group, has said he knew Michael Adebolajo from group meetings that he attended between 2005-2011. Choudary told the Guardian that Adebolajo “was on our ideological wave-length.” In an interview with Channel Four News, Choudary made another claim. Adebolajo, he said, is “a very nice man. I believe he’s a family man. He’s a very calm and non-violent man. As you can see from the clip yesterday he was concerned and apologizing to any women and children who were there.”

Despite his move to Islam, Adebolajo wasn’t a familiar face around the Greenwich Islamic Centre, though it was near his university. Men standing guard at the red brick, gold-domed mosque on Thursday — regular attendees who were acting as both the mosque’s spokespeople and security after anti-Muslim demonstrations the previous night in response to the attack — told TIME that Adebolajo had never attended services and that anyone who expresses extremist views would have been banned.

(MOREBritain’s Prime Minister Denounces Violent Responses to Wednesday’s Brutal Knife Attack)

The second suspect, whose image hasn’t been as widely captured, has not yet been named. The BBC reported that Whitehall sources have confirmed both suspects—who are currently under arrest while being treated in London hospitals—were known to the security services. That, too, raises fresh questions, about what the authorities knew and whether they could have done more.

Now police, security services and government officials are working together to find out as much as possible as quickly as possible. On Thursday, teams of police raided private properties in various outer London neighborhoods, including Adebolajo’s sister’s home, as well as in the north-east town of Lincoln, where Adebolajo’s family’s home is located.

Police investigating the brutal attack also announced late Thursday afternoon that two more people had been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder. A man and woman, both 29, are being held in a south London station, but scant details have been released about their suspected crimes. And so, the world continues to watch.

MOREMan Hacked to Death on Busy London Street

Click here to read Catherine Mayer’s in-depth TIME International cover story on British Prime Minister David Cameron, available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

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16 comments
21stcentury
21stcentury

We cannot bring back the young drummer, but we can get tougher on violent religious zealots. Waiting for horror to happen was in Neville Chamberlain's playbook. Curbing the horrors of machete wielding extremists requires the guts and fortitude of Churchill. The death penalty was made for sociopaths like Adebolajo and his ilk.


valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

WHERE ARE THE FAMED"BULLY BOYS" OF THE ROYAL NAVY OF OLD......AND THE ORGANIZED SOCCER FANS WHO WERE TOUGH.......DEFENDING THEIR TEAM......WHERE ARE THE BRAVE WELSH OF HARLECH........WHERE ARE THE DESCENDANTS OF THE NORSEMEN?.......WHERE ARE THE BRAVE MEN OF ALFRED IN WESSEX?????

ORGANIZE AND TAKE BACK YOUR ENGLAND......OR ENGLAND WILL BE -----N MORE.......

valentine, comedian, lol

JeremyHenman
JeremyHenman

Convert to Islam, hack up soldier in street, shocker.   

AzizulhishamCheHashim
AzizulhishamCheHashim

My sincere condolences to the soldier's family and friends. I am a Muslim and I strongly say this guy is not a Muslim the way he act. In Islam he is not suppose to kill human being. Even if someone kill your family members forgiveness is better then revange cause only god can punish people. I have many british friends and we respect each other. Even they are aware my prayers 5 times a day and they respect. I even attended my british friend funeral. This is the real Islam where you have to live together in harmony and this guy not following the way Islam teach.        

YehudaElyada
YehudaElyada

I wonder if Mrs. Blair, so sophisticated and understanding when reflecting on other people's tragedies, can find justification also to this horrendous act of terror, because the perpetrator has "justified reasons to be angry"? Or, like so many of her ilk, she believes that frustration and anger justifies terror only when it comes to Israel? My sincere condolences to the soldier's family and friends. I'm sure he was proud of his mission to serve his country, not its hypocritical politically correctness guardians.

PineSource
PineSource

I don't understand they think killing people is right. Life is loss, and can't be recovered. Two weeks ago, a Philippine coast guard ship shooted an unarmed Taiwanese fisherman, and Filipinos think they have the right to kill. If they don't like this person, they have another way to express their unsatisfaction, but not by killing people.

PUDGE
PUDGE

All Muslims should die!

MarcellaCroney
MarcellaCroney

thoughts and prayers for the family of the young man, father, son that was murdered by radicals. this is so completely uncalled for.  people have lost their minds and now this poor innocent young man has been slaughtered like an animal by people with no morals.  i dont  think that  there is any punishment that would fit what they did. my thoughts are also with all those that witnessed this hanious crime, they too will have so many issues trying to deal with the violence that they witnessed. i hope that they throw the book at the two when and if they come out of the hospital.

sra
sra

My prayers are with this Young Man's family, it would of been with Lee himself but it is to late for him. I prayed he did not suffer long. This is just such a tragedy. I will never ever understand why people kill people they do not know. He was a young man serving his country doing what a lot of young men do. After all are Country's have to be protected. He was a christian turned to islam what was he talking about when he stated are women see this in are land all the time.? And they want to ban guns, people who want to do harm will find away like he did with a meat cleaver, so that is clearly intent to do harm. Who walks around with that. If America and England do not get smart we are all doomed.

Channah
Channah

I can understand someone converting from Christianity to Islam----(I converted from Christianity to Judaism--there is no G-d but G-d)------but, not to radical Islam.  This man had to have had mental problems from the very start.  All radicals, no matter their religion, have to have mental/emotional problems.

paulgeorges
paulgeorges

Honor, high honor this brave soldier he rest in peace

jj.wyndham
jj.wyndham

@YehudaElyada

"justifies terror only when it comes to Israel"

Look up narcissism in the dictionary.

rphyadav
rphyadav

Killing can never be justified, neither in London, nor in Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.

Elihude
Elihude

@Channah The root causes of radicalism is hatred generated in one form or another!