More sus­pects rounded up

In­ves­ti­ga­tors ex­plore bomber’s links to larger net­work

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page -

Sol­diers try to piece to­gether con­cert bomber’s ties.

Bri­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tors are hunt­ing for po­ten­tial con­spir­a­tors linked to the bomb­ing that killed 22 peo­ple in a search that is ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that the same cell linked to the Paris and Brus­sels terror at­tacks was also to blame for the Manch­ester Arena at­tack, two of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said Wed­nes­day.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors were also as­sess­ing whether Sal­man Abedi, the sus­pected bomber in the at­tack Mon­day on a pop con­cert in Manch­ester, may have been con­nected to known mil­i­tants in the north­ern English city. Abedi, a 22-year-old Bri­tish cit­i­zen born to Libyan par­ents, died in the at­tack.

Abedi’s fa­ther, Ra­madan Abedi, was al­legedly a mem­ber of the al-Qaida-backed Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing group in the 1990s, ac­cord­ing to a for­mer Libyan se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, Ab­del­B­a­sit Haroun. The el­der Abedi de­nied that he was part of the mil­i­tant group and told The As­so­ci­ated Press that his son was not in­volved in thecon­cert bomb­ing and had no con­nec­tion to mil­i­tants.

“We don’t be­lieve in killing in­no­cents. This is not us,” the 51-year-old Abedi said in a tele­phone in­ter­view from Tripoli.

He said he spoke to his son five days ago and that he was get­ting ready for a re­li­gious pil­grim­age to Saudi Ara­bia. He said that his son vis­ited Libya a month and a half ago and was plan­ning to re­turn to Libya to spend the holy month of Ra­madan with the fam­ily. He also de­nied

his son had spent time in Syria or fought with the Is­lamic State group, which claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the con­cert bomb­ing.

“Last time I spoke to him, he sounded nor­mal. There was noth­ing wor­ry­ing at all un­til ... I heard the news that they are sus­pect­ing he was the bomber,” the el­der Abedi said.

He con­firmed that an­other son, Is­mail, 23, was ar­rested Tues­day in Manch­ester. A third son, 18-year-old Hisham, was ar­rested in Tripoli late last night, ac­cord­ing to a Libyan gov­ern­ment spokesman, Ahmed bin Salem. The el­der Abedi was ar­rested shortly af­ter speak­ing to the AP, Salem said.

The anti-terror force that took

Hisham Abedi into cus­tody said that the teenager had con­fessed that both he and his brother were mem­bers of the Is­lamic State group and that Hashim Abedi had been aware of the de­tails of the Manch­ester at­tack.

Ra­madan Abedi fled Tripoli in 1993 af­ter Moam­mar Gad­hafi’s se­cu­rity author­i­ties is­sued an ar­rest war­rant. He spent 25 years in Bri­tain be­fore re­turn­ing to Libya af­ter Gad­hafi was ousted and killed in the coun­try’s 2011 civil war. He is now a man­ager of the Cen­tral Se­cu­rity force in Tripoli.

Abedi’s wife, Samia al-Ta­bal, is a close friend of the wife of Abu Anas al-Libi, an al-Qaida vet­eran who was snatched off the streets of Tripoli in 2013

by U.S. spe­cial forces and faced ac­cu­sa­tions of in­volve­ment in the 1998 bomb­ings of two U.S. em­bassies in Africa, al-Libi’s wife, Um Ab­dal­lah, told the AP. Al-Libi was on the FBI’s most­wanted ter­ror­ist list and died in U.S. cus­tody in 2015.

Bri­tish po­lice said Wed­nes­day they had not yet found the bomb maker in the Manch­ester Arena at­tack, in­di­cat­ing Sal­man Abedi was part of a larger cell.

“It’s very clear this is a net­work we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing,” Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins said.

Bri­tish author­i­ties were also ex­plor­ing whether the bomber, who grew up in Manch­ester, had links with other cells across Europe and North Africa.

AP PHOTO

A woman looks at the flo­ral trib­utes and mes­sages left for the vic­tims of the arena con­cert blast, dur­ing a vigil at St Ann’s Square in cen­tral Manch­ester, Eng­land, Wed­nes­day.

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