BRI­TISH COPS NAB KEY SUS­PECTS

11 al­leged mem­bers of Libyan ter­ror cell ar­rested as de­tails emerge of bomber’s vi­o­lent past

New Straits Times - - World -

MANCH­ESTER

PO­LICE have rounded up “a large part” of the sus­pected Libyan ter­ror cell, it was re­vealed yes­ter­day. Of­fi­cers said they had ar­rested the “key play­ers” in the Mid­dle Eng­land gang of al­leged ji­hadis, who helped Sal­man Abedi, 22, wreak hor­ror here.

Af­ter a se­ries of raids in the Mid­lands and the North, 11 peo­ple were in cus­tody last night.

In­cred­i­bly, un­like fa­nat­ics re­turn­ing from Syria — who were flagged as ter­ror risks — dozens of lo­cal young­sters had ap­par­ently been free to join the front­line in Libya with­out at­tract­ing as much at­ten­tion. These de­vel­op­ments came as it emerged:

SAL­MAN was among a group of young men from here who w

z ent to fight in Libya with their fa­thers, be­fore switch­ing al­le­giance to Is­lamic State (IS);

HIS younger brother, Hashem, 20, has been “singing like a ca­nary” in cus­tody. Hashem was ar­rested in Libya on Tues­day and had been nam­ing names that were passed on to MI6 and MI5.

Within hours of the out­rage, Sal­man’s older brother, Is­mail, 23, was ar­rested out­side a su­per­mar­ket in South Manch­ester. His flat in Whal­ley Range was raided and armed po­lice stormed the Abedi fam­ily’s for­mer home in nearby Fal­low­field;

A “BOMB fac­tory” was found in Sal­man’s old flat in Mersey­side; and,

–A BAR­BER shop run by the killer’s cousin was searched for bomb-mak­ing chem­i­cals.

Last night, Bri­tain’s top coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cer, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Mark Row­ley, said de­tec­tives had made “im­mense” progress since Mon­day’s atroc­ity.

He said of­fi­cers were “very happy we’ve got our hands around some of the key sus­pects”, adding that po­lice had made “sig­nif­i­cant” ar­rests and “finds”, and had got hold of a “large part” of the sus­pected net­work.

Row­ley said it was likely fur­ther ar­rests would fol­low.

Sal­man’s fa­ther, who was also de­tained in Libya, had in­sisted on Wed­nes­day that Is­mail was in­no­cent, and he was just pre­par­ing to go on a pil­grim­age in Saudi Ara­bia.

Ra­madan Abedi, 51, also known as Abu Is­mail, spoke by phone from the Libyan city of Tripoli.

“We don’t be­lieve in killing in­no­cents. This is not us.”

But Sal­man had spent his school hol­i­days in war-torn Libya, where he might have learnt how to kill as young as 16.

He and his brothers were un­der­stood to have spent their 2011

“Mu­sic is some­thing that ev­ery­one on Earth can share. Mu­sic is meant to heal us, to bring us to­gether, to make us happy.”

In the wake of the at­tack, Grande had faced crit­i­cism from sum­mer hol­i­days wag­ing war against Muam­mar Gaddafi in a group call­ing them­selves the “Manch­ester Fight­ers”.

Hashem was 14 when he went, ac­cord­ing to a neigh­bour.

The Daily Mail learnt that in 2014, Sal­man was hurt in bat­tle.

He had left Manch­ester Col­lege in 2013 — hav­ing punched a girl for wear­ing a short skirt and ad­mit­ting that he had “anger man­age­ment is­sues” — and trav­elled to east­ern Libya to join fa­nat­ics try­ing to im­pose syariah in Beng­hazi and Ajd­abiya.

Dur­ing fight­ing against forces led by Gaddafi op­po­nent Khal­ifa Haf­tar, Abedi was in­jured and taken to hos­pi­tal in Tur­key, trav­el­ling un­der a false pass­port.

Yet, by Septem­ber 2014, about four months later, he was back in the UK, start­ing his Sal­ford Uni­ver­sity course. Agen­cies some com­men­ta­tors in Bri­tain, no­tably Piers Mor­gan, who said she should have stayed and vis­ited hos­pi­talised sur­vivors.

Grande in her state­ment said she has been fo­cused “non-stop” on the vic­tims and that “I will think of them with ev­ery­thing I do for the rest of my life.”

She can­celled two weeks of con­certs, in­clud­ing two shows in Lon­don, af­ter the at­tacks. AFP

AFP PIC

A woman walk­ing past a street mu­ral cre­ated fol­low­ing the May 22 ter­ror at­tack on Manch­ester Arena. The art­work fea­tured bees, which are sym­bols of the city’s in­dus­trial her­itage.

AP PIC

A video ap­pear­ing to show Manch­ester bomber Sal­man Abedi out­side his home in July last year.

Hashem Abedi Ra­madan Abedi

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