The Murder of Lee Rigby
“Terrorism overall doesn’t stay static. It changes and the tactics and the methods change over time as well...partly it’s a response to security measures that a state introduces. So if a state makes it very, very hard to hit a particular target or, to carry out a particular type of attack like hijacking planes, what we find is that there’s displacement. That you get a switch to a different type of tactic and a different type of target that is easier to hit.”
Professor Andrew Silke – Programme Director for Terrorism studies, University of East London
Lee Rigby was born in Manchester in July 1987. He went to a local school and started a lifelong passion for Manchester United. And right from the start, he wanted to be in the Army.
But Lee struggled to pass the Army recruiting process because of his dyslexia.
He failed the entry test twice. It only made him more determined.
In 2006, when Lee was 19, he was finally able to join up. He was selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums. His first posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus.
The Army became like a second family to him. He also fell in love with a girl called Rebecca and the couple were married in West Yorkshire in 2007.
Lee’s nickname was ‘Riggers’ and it was always easy to spot him on parade. He was the one with the beaming smile.
In 2009, Lee was deployed to Afghanistan with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. It’s a regiment with a formidable reputation. Lee proudly told his family that in just one day, six of its men had won the Victoria Cross – the highest military decoration. And when Lee served in Afghanistan, it was during one of its worst periods of fighting.
And indeed Lee had come close to not coming back when a bullet hit a picture frame next to his bed.
He’d phoned his mother straight after to tell them how a bullet had missed him by inches. And that he loved them.
After a stint in Germany, Lee was stationed at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich
By 2013, Lee, now 25, had done two years in a recruitment post and was a father to a two-year-old, Jack. He had, however, since become estranged from Rebecca.
On 22 May 2013, Lee left an army recruitment fair at the Tower of London.
At 14:10 he exited the tube at Woolwich Arsenal DLR Station. He was returning to the Woolwich Barracks wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ sweatshirt. It was an unremarkable, partly sunny afternoon.
He walked along Wellington Street before crossing John Wilson Street and entering Artillery Place. He crossed Artillery Place away from the Army barracks towards a shop on the other side of the road.
“It just so happened he was the soldier that was spotted first.”
Michael Adebolajo explanation for why Lee was targeted
But Lee wasn’t wearing uniform and he hadn’t exited from the barracks.
But this didn’t stop them.
When a soldier’s murder in Woolwich was reported on the news, Lee’s mother knew it was her boy.
If it wasn’t him, he would have already called to reassure her.