The suspected suicide bomber behind the attack at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester Arena which killed 22 people and injured dozens has been identified as 22-year-old Salman Abedi
The Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi had made trips to Libya, Downing Street said last night, as intelligence agencies combed his connections with al-Qaeda and Islamic State in his parents’ homeland.
Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.
A school friend told The Times: “He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.”
Abedi born in Manchester and grew up in tight-knit Libyan community that was known for its strong opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
He had become radicalised recently – it is not entirely clear when – and had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fundraising for jihadists.
Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school. The imam last night said that Salman Abedi, who wore Islamic dress, had shown him “the face of hate” when he gave a talk warning on the dangers of so-called Islamic State.
Abedi was known to the security services but was not part of any active investigation or regarded as a high risk. He was viewed as a peripheral figure in much the same way as the Westminster attacker, Khalid Masood.
The police and security services are trying to establish whether he worked alone or was part of a wider network that helped him with the bomb. Although Islamic State has claimed responsibility, the police have found no evidence to support this.
Even before Abedi was named, several members of south Manchester’s Libyan community wondered whether the suicide bomber was one of their own: perhaps one of the young men who had fought in Libya during the 2011 revolution, some of whom came home traumatised and angry.
But none appear to have suspected that British-born Abedi – a slightly withdrawn, devout young man, always respectful to his elders – would become a mass murderer.
Neighbours woke up to the reality that the quiet young man next door had blown himself up, murdering at least 22 innocent victims.
Police blasted down the door of the family home at 11.30am. According to locals, two helicopters and at least 30 police officers in camouflage, riot gear and shields arrived for the raid.
The police were very heavily armed. All of them. It was like something out of a war scene,” said Mr Kinsey.
“It was terrifying. About thirty of them arrived in camouflage and riot gear and removed the wooden fence between two properties.
“Then they attached a black strip to the door and there was a loud explosion. The door came off its hinges. The windows were shaking. The whole operation lasted about 90 seconds.
“I didn’t see them leading anyone out of the house. I believe it was empty.”