More suspects rounded up
Investigators explore bomber’s links to larger network
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.
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.