Manchester bomber traveled to Syria and Libya and had links to ISIS

by VICE News
May 24 2017, 9:17am

The man suspected of carrying out Britain’s worst terror attack in more than a decade has been named as 22-year old Salman Ramadan Abedi. The bomb, detonated at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Monday night, left 22 people dead and 64 people injured. It was Britain’s worst terror attack since four suicide bombers targeted London subway and bus commuters in 2005, killing 52.

The Islamic State were quick to claim responsibility for the attack early Tuesday, and five men have been arrested in south Manchester in connection with the bombing.

As British police spoke Wednesday of “a likely network” behind Abedi, a Libyan official announced that counterterrorism authorities there have arrested at least two members of the bomber’s family. These include a younger brother suspected of plotting an attack in Libya’s capital Tripoli.

According to the Washington Post, a spokesman for Libya’s counterterrorism Reda Force, said Hashem Abedi was arrested Tuesday, while Abedi’s father Ramadan was arrested Wednesday.

Ahmed Dagdoug said Hashem was in constant contact with his brother Salman back in the U.K, and knew of his plans to attack the concert in Manchester.

As the race to uncover Abedi’s accomplices intensified Wednesday, The New York Times published photos of the bomb used in the attack, reporting that preliminary analysis by U.K. experts show a powerful explosive in a lightweight metal container most likely concealed within a blue backpack. Images show nuts and shrapnel from the bomb embedded in the floor.

Before his arrest, Salman’s father denied that his son had anything to do with the attack, but confirmed his other son – 23-year old Ismael – was in custody.

“We don’t believe in killing innocents. This is not us,” Mr Abedi senior told AP from Tripoli.

What we know about the victims

As the investigation continues, authorities have said that they are certain they now know the names of all the victims. So far, 12 who died in the blast have been identified. They are: Georgina Callander, 18; Saffie Rose Roussos, 8; Olivia Campbell, 15; Alison Howe, 45; Nell Jones, 14; Kelly Brewster, 32; John Atkinson, 26; Lisa Lees, 47; Martin Hett, 29; Marcin Klis, 42, Jane Tweddle-Taylor, 51, and Angelika Klis, 40. An unnamed police officer is also confirmed dead. She attended the concert with her husband and was fatally injured during the attack.

Many of those being treated in hospital are said to face life-changing injuries. The bomb was packed with nuts and bolts in order to inflict maximum injury. Many of the wounded are said to have metal fragments and bolts embedded in their body.

“They’ve been the sort of traumatic injuries that you would expect in terms of the type of device used, the proximity to the people who were injured. We’re dealing with injuries to major organs, we’re dealing with loss of limbs potentially, we’re dealing with embedded objects,” Jon Rouse, chief officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership told the BBC.

Suspected attacker’s trips to Syria

22-year old Abedi was born in Britain to Libyan parents. He was one of four siblings and grew up in the greater Manchester area. Abedi attended school in Manchester, and went on to study at Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out, the Telegraph reported.

The U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Tuesday that Abedi had made several recent trips to Libya, and confirmed he was known to the security services. However Rudd stopped short of revealing any further information. The French interior minister provided more detail, revealing that U.K. authorities told his office that Abedi had probably visited both Libya and Syria, and had proven links with ISIS.

“Today we only know what British investigators have told us – someone of British nationality, of Libyan origin, who suddenly after a trip to Libya, then probably to Syria, becomes radicalised and decides to carry out this attack,” Gerard Collomb told French TV station BFMTV.

U.K. raises threat level to “critical”

Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the U.K. threat level from severe to critical, meaning authorities believe a further attack is imminent. As part of that threat level, the British army is deploying around 800 troops across the country under Operation Temperer in an effort to support local police forces.

Leaks from U.S. intelligence

Abedi was named by U.S. media outlets hours before the U.K. authorities officially confirmed his identity. In a BBC radio interview Wednesday, the Home Secretary made it plain that she found this behavior unhelpful.

“It is irritating when [information] gets released from other sources and I have been very clear with our friends that that should not happen again,” Rudd said of the leaks from the U.S. intelligence community.

Unusual: Home Sec Amber Rudd slams "irritating" US officials for Abedi leaks: "I've been very clear it shouldn't happen again"

Speaking at a press event, senior ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee Adam Schiff said that if U.S. officials did leak details of the investigation then that would mean the U.K would “have every right to be furious with us.” Schiff added that the source did not come from Congress, who had not been briefed.

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