The Scottish Mail on Sunday

SUI­CIDE BOMBER SCHOOL

How the Manch­ester Arena mur­derer is linked to Libyan...

- From Bar­bara Jones IN TRIPOLI

MANCH­ESTER sui­cide bomber Sal­man Abedi learned his evil craft at a ter­ror­ist train­ing school in Tripoli, ac­cord­ing to se­nior sources from a Libyan mili­tia.

Last week, The Mail on Sun­day was shown around the re­mains of the bomb makers’ academy where Abedi is be­lieved to have learned the skills he used to kill 22 peo­ple, in­clud­ing seven chil­dren, and in­jure 119 more at the Manch­ester Arena.

The deadly de­vices in the pic­ture on the far right were among those said to have been con­structed there.

The 22-year-old is known to have fol­lowed his fa­ther Ra­madan into the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Is­lamic Fight­ing Group (LIFG) and its break­away Al Muqatila bri­gade in 2011, be­fore be­com­ing fur­ther rad­i­calised by Is­lamic State pro­pa­ganda.

At a dusty com­pound in down­town Tripoli, Al Muqatila re­cruits spent hours as­sem­bling car bombs and sui­cide vests from parts stashed in makeshift lock-up garages and a metal con­tainer guarded day and night. It is even pos­si­ble Abedi came here days be­fore the Manch­ester at­tack on May 22, as he is known to have flown back to the UK on May 17 af­ter a five-week stay in Tripoli.

One item of the ter­ror­ists’ lethal hand­i­work was dis­cov­ered when the ri­val Haitham Ta­jouri mili­tia over-ran the Al Muqatila base a fort­night ago fol­low­ing a bat­tle.

They found a suit­case packed full of grenades and a mor­tar bomb in the boot of a car, form­ing an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice (IED) pow­er­ful enough to kill or maim hun­dreds.

Else­where in the rub­ble-strewn com­pound in Gorji Street, crudely painted pic­tures of rocket-pro­pelled grenades and other weapons still adorn the perime­ter walls where groups of re­cruits gath­ered for tu­ition.

A se­nior fig­ure from Haitham Ta­jouri showed the ru­ins to The Mail on Sun­day, along with photos of the suit­case bomb.

‘We don’t know of many fa­thers who teach their sons to make bombs, and the Abedi fam­ily is un­usual in hav­ing a sui­cide bomber and two sus­pects in the same house­hold,’ he said. ‘But it seems in­evitable to us that Ra­madan Abedi, a known mem­ber of Al Muqatila, would bring his son here to train him.’

Last week, Abedi’s brother Hashem, 20, told Libyan in­ves­ti­ga­tors work­ing along­side Bri­tish po­lice in Tripoli, that he had helped his brother buy com­po­nents for the bomb in the UK, but claimed not to know the de­tails of his plan.

It is be­lieved that the de­vice was put to­gether at var­i­ous ad­dresses used by Abedi in Manch­ester be­fore he tar­geted the Ari­ana Grande pop con­cert.

Abedi would have been wel­comed as a youth mem­ber of the Al Muqatila bri­gade thanks to his fa­ther’s long as­so­ci­a­tion with the LIFG. To­day Al Muqatila is con­tin­u­ously at war with other armed mili­tias, and the fight to seize the train­ing school was bloody. Dozens of fight­ers were killed in the three-day bat­tle, the gate­way to the com­pound bull­dozed and de­stroyed, and the two tanks con­fis­cated.

The source said: ‘Al Muqatila... are famed for their bomb­mak­ing skills and this was their fac­tory and train­ing ground. They are evil peo­ple.

‘Their aim is a caliphate through­out Libya un­der sharia law – sim­i­lar to Is­lamic State.’

Abedi’s fa­ther Ra­madan has openly ad­mit­ted his al­le­giance to the mili­tia. It was his mem­ber­ship of the LIFG – which was fiercely op­posed to Gaddafi and made sev­eral at­tempts to as­sas­si­nate him – which gained him po­lit­i­cal asy­lum in Bri­tain in the Nineties. In 2011, Ra­madan re­turned to Libya to fight for the over­throw of Gaddafi and Abedi, born in Manch­ester, went with him.

How­ever, while his fa­ther stayed in Libya af­ter Gaddafi’s de­feat, Abedi re­turned to Manch­ester. There he ap­pears to have lost his way, turn­ing to Is­lamic State ide­ol­ogy af­ter watch­ing YouTube videos.

His par­ents, con­cerned Abedi and Hashem were in­volved with street gangs, brought the two young men to Tripoli to be with the fam­ily in mid April.

To­day Ra­madan is in the cus­tody of Tripoli’s semi­au­tonomous Spe­cial De­ter­rence Force along with his son Hashem, and both were in­ter­ro­gated last week by Bri­tish se­cu­rity in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

 ??  ?? Dur­ing a raid of the Al Muqatila train­ing camp, what ap­pears to be an or­di­nary suit­case is dis­cov­ered in the boot of a car Af­ter open­ing it, how­ever, in­ves­ti­ga­tors find it is packed with grenades and a mor­tar bomb – an IED with the po­ten­tial to kill...
Dur­ing a raid of the Al Muqatila train­ing camp, what ap­pears to be an or­di­nary suit­case is dis­cov­ered in the boot of a car Af­ter open­ing it, how­ever, in­ves­ti­ga­tors find it is packed with grenades and a mor­tar bomb – an IED with the po­ten­tial to kill...

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