Manchester bomber's father says his son is innocent

The father of Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people in Manchester, has claimed that his son is innocent.

Speaking at his home in Tripoli, Ramadan Abedi said: ‘I was really shocked when I saw the news, I still don’t believe it.

‘My son was as religious as any child who opens his eyes in a religious family.

‘As we were discussing news of similar attacks earlier, he was always against those attacks, saying there’s no religious justification for them. I don’t understand how he’d have become involved in an attack that led to the killing of children.

‘Until now my son is a suspect, and the authorities haven’t come up with a final conclusion.

‘Every father knows his son and his thoughts, my son does not have extremist thoughts.’

Mr Abedi confirmed that his son made regular trips to Libya to visit his family.

Salman Abedi had proven links to Isis, and is unlikely to have been working alone, reports say.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd (PA Images)
Home Secretary Amber Rudd (PA Images)

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has confirmed the UK security services had been aware of the 22-year-old.

‘We do know that he was known up to a point to the intelligence services,” she told Sky News on Wednesday morning.

‘I am sure that we will get more information about him over the next few days and the next few weeks.”

‘[The attack] was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely – possible – that he wasn’t doing this on his own,’ she added.

The developments come comes as Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the official terror threat level has been raised to critical, the highest level.

Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack – but the claim has yet to be verified.

Who was Salman Abedi?

The bomber was born in Manchester, and had spent three weeks in Libya before the attack.

He grew up in a Muslim household – but matured into a university dropout with an appetite for bloodshed.

The second youngest of four children, Abedi was registered as living at Elsmore Road as recently as last year, where police raided a downstairs red-bricked semi-detached property on Tuesday.

His parents were Libyan refugees who are thought to have come to the UK during the Gaddafi regime.

Manchester born and raised

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area. Neighbours recalled an abrasive, tall, skinny young man who was little known in the neighbourhood, and often seen in traditional Islamic clothing.

He is thought to have lived at a number of addresses in the area, including one in Wilbraham Road, where plainclothes police made an arrest on Tuesday.

Abedi is believed to have attended the Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as the Didsbury Mosque.

Here, he reportedly caught the attention of one imam whom he stared down during a sermon denouncing terrorism.

‘Salman showed me a face of hate after that sermon,’ Mohammed Saeed told The Guardian of the 2015 encounter.

‘He was showing me hatred.’

The road to extremism

Abedi’s visit to his family’s native country fuelled concerns he was preparing for Monday’s deadly assault under the guidance of hardened jihadists.

Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said detectives were working to establish whether Abedi was working alone.

He said: ‘I can confirm that the man suspected of carrying out last night’s atrocity has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.’