Radicalised by extremists – and his own parents
sAlMAN Abedi’s back- ground contained ‘every conceivable radicalising malign presence’, according to a terrorism expert.
Dr Matthew Wilkinson, of the University of london, had ‘never seen such a complete picture of a petri dish absolutely brimming with germs’, the bombing inquiry heard.
inquiry chairman sir John saunders said Abedi ‘had almost no close connections or friendships that would tie him to lawabiding society’ – and was indoctrinated by his own family.
sir John said: ‘the Abedi family holds significant responsibility for the radicalisation.
‘ that includes their father Ramadan Abedi, mother samia tabbal, 56, and elder brother ismail Abedi 29, each of whom has held extremist views.’
sir John said Ramadan – believed to now be with his wife in libya – is thought to be part of the February 17th Martyrs Brigade and may have taken his sons to fight with the jihadist group in the country’s civil war from 2011.
He highlighted an image from libya of ismail, salman and Hashem Abedi, now 22, posing with guns next to sons of Al Qaeda figure Abu Anas al-libi, linked to 1998 Us embassy bombings.
in Manchester, an ‘ important influence’ was prolific isis recruiter Abdalraouf Abdallah, who was left wheelchair-bound after being injured fighting with the February 17th Martyrs. sir John said Abdallah had ‘hero status among young men susceptible to islamic state propaganda’. Abedi exchanged more than 1,000 messages with Abdallah in 2014, prior to his arrest for terror offences.
After Abdallah, 29, was jailed for nine-and-a-half years, Abedi visited repeatedly and Abdallah kept in touch via an illicit phone.
sir John found Abdallah – who told a prison officer in 2021 that salman Abedi talked about ‘killing people in a public space’ – was a radicalising influence but did not plan the attack. Another friend was Manchester-born jihadist Raphael Hostey, killed in a drone strike in syria in 2016.
Meanwhile, Plymouth-based hate preacher Mansoor al-Anezi was also ‘of significance’, with salman and Hashem Abedi attending his funeral in 2017.
Years earlier, he is believed to have influenced Muslim convert Nicky Reilly, who attempted unsuccessfully to carry out a suicide bombing in Exeter in 2008.
sir John also criticised leaders at Didsbury Mosque, south Manchester, for ‘wilful blindness’ to extremist activity including a sermon advocating violent jihad.
the inquiry report said an imam at the Mosque, Mustafa Graf, was detained in libya in 2011 amid claims that he had been fighting.
sir John said: ‘subsequently, the leadership of the mosque had to deal with a controversial sermon delivered by Mustafa Graf, which in one view, although not the only view, encouraged support for armed jihad in syria.’
On his return from his last trip to libya, just days before launching the arena attack, Abedi – who may have brought the bomb switch back with him – put to use evasion tactics he had been taught out there.
When he got back to Manchester airport on May 18 he changed his phone and caught a bus before taking a taxi to ensure he wasn’t followed to his Nissan Micra, which contained his explosives.
sir John said salman and Hashem Abedi received ‘advice from others’ on bomb-making and evading detection.
But he added this was likely to have been in libya, meaning ‘there is no evidence that enables me to say who gave this advice or in what circumstances’. salman and Hashem’s parents and elder brother ismail – also believed to be in libya – all refused to cooperate with the inquiry.
sir John found ismail and his friends accessed isis material online, and it was ‘inevitable’ that salman and Hashem did as well.
‘Advocating violent jihad’