Salman Abedi identified as Manchester suicide bomber as Theresa May raises threat warning to 'critical'

 

The first picture of suspected Manchester bomber Salman Abedi

The suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens at a concert in Manchester has been identified as a British-Libyan man name Salman Abedi.

Twenty-two people were killed – many of them expected to be young – after a bomb exploded at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late on Monday night.

It comes after Mrs May announced that the official terror threat level is being raised to critical, the highest level.

Georgina Callander, pictured two years ago with Ariana Grande, and , right, eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos

The Times newspaper reported the Manchester-born bomber spent three weeks in the war-torn north African nation before the attack on Manchester Arena, in which he was killed.

A friend told the paper: “He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.”

Who is Salman Abedi?

Born and raised in Manchester, Abedi grew up in a Muslim household – but matured into a university dropout with an appetite for bloodshed.

He was registered as living at Elsmore Road as recently as last year, where police raided a downstairs red-bricked semi-detached property on Tuesday.

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 previously lived with his mother Samia Tabbal, father Ramadan Abedi and a brother, Ismail Abedi, who was born in Westminster in 1993.

He is thought to have a younger brother, Hashim Abedi, and a sister Jomana, whose Facebook profile suggests she is from Tripoli and lives in Manchester.

A family friend, who asked not to be named, said they were known to the Libyan community in the city and described Abedi as “normal”.

He said: “He was always friendly, nothing to suggest (he was violent). He was normal, to be honest.”

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.”

Fawaz Haffar, a businessman and trustee of the mosque, said he “probably” did attend there, given his father used to perform the call to prayer and his brother Ismail attended as a volunteer until recently.

He said: “I see him (the father) praying but I don’t know really who he is. I see him sometimes raising the azan, or call to prayer, but that was a long time ago.

“As far as I knew he went back to Libya when things were much better over there, to work over there.

“He was devout as far as I know. He had three sons, one of them is detained, one of them is a suspect and the third one I have no idea who he is.”

He said the mosque is moderate, modern and liberal and that he is a member of an organisation liaising with police, the Independent Advisory Group.

Abedi studied business and management at Salford University two or three years ago, a source said, but dropped out of the course and did not complete his degree.

The source said Abedi began his course in 2014 and attended lectures for two years but then stopped going.

He would have graduated this summer.

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.”

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

Elsmore Road, where Abedi was registered as living, became the centre of the investigation into Monday’s outrage as detectives hunted those thought to be behind the blast.

According to the Telegraph, Abedi is the second youngest of four children.

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

The paper also reports that two of Abedi’s three siblings are called Hashem, who is 20, and Jomama, 18.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area where earlier today police could be seen outside a block of flats.

In June 2014, it emerge that twin sisters, schoolgirls Salma and Zahra Halane, also form the Whalley Range area, had fled to join the so-called Islamic State where they had married jihadist fighters.

Local residents  who live on the red-bricked semi-detached street said they know little about the person or persons who reside at the address.

A childhood friend of Ismail, who asked not to be named, described Salman as “normal” and said his family were known to the Libyan community in the city.

He said: “Ismail’s brother was kind of like a normal guy. I’ve never chilled with his brother. I know his name is Salman and I say ‘hi’ to him and talk to him.

“He was always friendly, nothing to suggest (he was violent). He was normal, to be honest.”

According to the man, Ismail teaches Arabic classes at a mosque in the area, which his father was also said to visit.

Salman Abedi “probably” attended the Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as the Didsbury Mosque, officials at the mosque said.

Fawaz Haffar, a businessman and trustee of the mosque, said he did not know the bomber or recall seeing him at the mosque.

Read more: Video shows moment of explosion

But he said he “probably” did attend there, given his father used to perform the azan, the call for prayer before 1,000 of the faithful, and his brother attended as a volunteer at the mosque until recently.

Mr Haffar stressed the mosque was what he called a moderate, modern, liberal mosque, and he is a member of an organisation liaising with police, the Independent Advisory Group.

Besieged by reporters at the mosque, Mr Haffar said it was likely Salman Abedi had attended the mosque.

 

Pictures revealed the scale of chaos and carnage inside the arena

He said: “He probably did, I have never seen him, I don’t know him, as a trustee I can only say what I have seen. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not.

Vigil interrupted

The man is detained by police (PA)

A candle-lit vigil in Birmingham in memory of those killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack was cut short after a man believed to be armed was detained nearby.

The man shouted out as he was handcuffed and led away by officers with West Midlands Police, just a short distance from where 1,000 people had gathered in the city’s main Victoria Square.

As he was taken away in a riot van in Edmund Street, which runs behind Birmingham’s council house, a police sergeant could be seen carrying away what appeared to be a bat and a hatchet.

Speakers who had been paying tribute to the Manchester victims were interrupted by the man’s loud protests, from down a side street.

Details of the victims have also begun to emerge.

An eight-year-old girl and a college student were among the first to be named.

Saffie Roussos, eight, who was killed in the attack, was described by the headteacher at her school in Preston as a “beautiful little girl“.

Another victim was named by her college as Georgina Callander, who was studying health and social care at Runshaw College in Leyland, Lancashire.

Georgina Callender, 18, pictured with Ariana Grande two years ago.

Earlier, Theresa May condemned the “appalling sickening cowardice” of the lone suicide bomber who detonated a homemade device in the foyer of the Manchester Arena just as thousands of young people were leaving a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.

Images from inside the Manchester Arena showed concert-goers fleeing in terror

Declaring that police and security services would be given whatever resources were needed to track down any accomplices of the attacker, Mrs May vowed: “The terrorists will never win and our values, our country and our way of life will always prevail.”

Greater Manchester Police said in a statement: “With regards to the ongoing investigation into last night’s horrific attack at the Manchester Arena, we can confirm we have arrested a 23-year-old man in South Manchester.”

The working theory is that the perpetrator who triggered the blast – that killed 22 people and injured 59 others outside the Manchester arena – was working alone.

However, the national police counter-terror network, assisted by MI5, are urgently piecing together his background to see whether he had any help in planning the outrage.

Police are trying to determine whether the terrorist was working alone (PA)
The attacker struck after an Ariana Grande concert (PA)

They will be looking to build a picture of the attacker’s movements both in recent weeks and months as well as immediately before the strike.

Read more about the Manchester terror attack:

Video shows moment concert-goers flee in terror

Eyewitness accounts: ‘There was carnage’

First victim names as Georgina Callander

Mum breaks down during desperate appeal to find daughter

People in Manchester open their homes to help those affected

Sick Isis supporters celebrate bombing

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