Manchester bomber Salman Abedi ‘trained in Syria’
Abedi had only recently returned from Libya when he detonated a suicide bomb which killed 22 people, including children, at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told television journalists that Abedi was believed to have recently been in Syria and had “proven” links to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
He may have attended a training camp while there and, Collomb claimed, was known to both French and British security services.
The 22-year-old Briton is also reported to have been an associate of Manchester IS recruiter Raphael Hostey – known as Abu Qaqa al-Britani – who was killed in Syria by a drone strike in 2016.
Abedi was from a family of Libyan origin, and his parents fled the east of Libya in 1990 to escape persecution by the North African state’s late ruler Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
He attended university in Manchester but dropped out.
According to a report by the Telegraph, the area of Manchester in which Abedi lived was home to a number of dissidents linked to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a well-known Al-Qaeda-oriented group which is still operating in the country.
Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, who left Manchester to go to Libya and run a 200-300-strong militant network for Osama Bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Azzouz is reported to be an expert bomb-maker. Abedi reportedly clashed with his local imam over anti-IS speeches the preacher had started to give.
Didsbury imam Mohammed Saeed El-Saeit told the Telegraph on Tuesday that “Salman showed me the face of hate after my speech on ISIS.“
“He used to show me the face of hate and I could tell this person does not like me. It’s not a surprise to me.”
It’s not clear when Abedi became radicalized, and the question of whether he did so on his own or with encouragement from others is likely to become a major issue in the investigation.
The bomber’s family is reported to have largely returned to Libya, leaving Abedi and his brother Ismail living at the Manchester property raided by police and special forces on Tuesday.