Bomb­ing probe yields sev­eral ar­rests

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JILL LAW­LESS, PAIS­LEY DODDS AND GRE­GORY KATZ

MANCHESTER, ENG­LAND — Home searches across Manchester and be­yond have un­cov­ered im­por­tant items in a fast-mov­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the con­cert bomb­ing that left 22 peo­ple dead, Manchester’s po­lice chief said Thurs­day as a diplo­matic spat broke out over U.S. leaks about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the me­dia.

Greater Manchester Po­lice Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins told re­porters the eight sus­pects de­tained so far are “sig­nif­i­cant” ar­rests, and “ini­tial searches of premises have re­vealed items that we be­lieve are very im­por­tant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

He did not elab­o­rate, but those ar­rests around the English city in­clude Is­mail Abedi, the brother of 22-year-old Manchester Arena bomber Sal­man Abedi. The bomber’s fa­ther Ra­madan Abedi and an­other brother Hashim have been de­tained in Libya.

As po­lice raced to un­cover the net­work that may have helped Abedi at­tack an Ari­ana Grande con­cert on Mon­day night, fu­ri­ous Bri­tish of­fi­cials blamed U.S. au­thor­i­ties Thurs­day for leak­ing de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion to the me­dia.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May said she would dis­cuss the leaks with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at a NATO sum­mit. Upon her ar­rival in Brus­sels, May said the U.S.-Bri­tish de­fence and se­cu­rity part­ner­ship is built on trust.

But she said “part of that trust is know­ing that in­tel­li­gence can be shared con­fi­dently.”

Bri­tish of­fi­cials are par­tic­u­larly an­gry that pho­tos de­tail­ing ev­i­dence about the bomb were pub­lished in The New York Times, al­though it’s not clear that the pa­per ob­tained the pho­tos from U.S. of­fi­cials.

Bri­tish se­cu­rity ser­vices are also up­set that Abedi’s name was ap­par­ently leaked by U.S. of­fi­cials while Bri­tish po­lice were with­hold­ing it — and while raids were un­der­way in Manchester and in Libya, where the bomber’s fa­ther lives.

Hop­kins, the Manchester po­lice chief, said the leaks had “caused much dis­tress for fam­i­lies that are al­ready suf­fer­ing ter­ri­bly with their loss.”

Trump on Thurs­day pledged to “get to the bot­tom” of leaks of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion, calling the leaks “deeply trou­bling.” He said he is ask­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment and other agen­cies to “launch a com­plete re­view of this mat­ter.”

The New York Times de­fended its pub­li­ca­tion of crime-scene pho­to­graphs, say­ing its cov­er­age had been “both com­pre­hen­sive and re­spon­si­ble.”

May said the na­tional threat level from ter­ror­ism re­mains at crit­i­cal — the high­est level, mean­ing that an­other at­tack may be im­mi­nent. Hun­dreds of sol­diers have re­placed po­lice pro­tect­ing high-pro­file sites in­clud­ing Buck­ing­ham Palace and the Houses of Par­lia­ment in Lon­don.

Around the coun­try, many peo­ple fell silent and bowed their heads at 11 a.m. for a minute in trib­ute to the bomb­ing vic­tims.

Queen El­iz­a­beth II vis­ited Royal Manchester Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal on Thurs­day to talk to some of the vic­tims, their fam­i­lies and med­i­cal staff.

“It’s dread­ful. Very wicked, to tar­get that sort of thing,” the 91year-old monarch told 14-year-old Evie Mills and her par­ents.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are chas­ing Abedi’s po­ten­tial links with ji­hadi mil­i­tants in Manchester, Europe, North Africa and the Mid­dle East. The bomber him­self died in the at­tack.

France’s in­te­rior min­is­ter says Abedi was be­lieved to have trav­elled to Syria, and U.S. Rep. Mike McCaul, chairman of the House Home­land Se­cu­rity Com­mit­tee, said he was part of “a cell of ISIS-in­spired ter­ror­ists.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are try­ing to find whether Abedi knew sev­eral Manchester-based ji­hadis.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors are also look­ing into the Abedi fam­ily’s ties in Libya. Abedi’s fa­ther Ra­madan was al­legedly a mem­ber of the al-Qaid­abacked Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing group in the 1990s — a claim he de­nies.

Au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether Abedi could have been stopped, af­ter Libyan com­mu­nity mem­bers in Manchester re­ported con­cerns about his views.

JEFF J. MITCHELL, GETTY IMAGES

A cy­clist stops to snap a photo of graf­fiti artists paint­ing mu­rals with the words “No fear here” in Manchester’s Steven­son Square Thurs­day. On Mon­day, a sui­cide bomber tar­geted Manchester Arena killing 22 peo­ple.

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