Revealed: How Muslim ISIS bomber Salman Abedi returned from Libya days before concert attack, received secret terror training in Syria and was seen as ‘face of hate’ among his Manchester neighbours.
British-born Abedi had spent time in a conflict zone – possibly Syria – before slaughtering 22 in a suicide bomb atrocity at Manchester Arena on Monday night.
A friend of Abedi, a Mancunian of Libyan descent, said the terrorist had returned from a three-week trip to Libya – also an ISIS hotbed – just days ago. He is understood to have made regular journeys to the North African country in recent years.
It was also claimed last night that he had travelled by train from London to Manchester on Monday in advance of the terror attack. This has raised suspicions that he may have met co-conspirators or been supplied with his explosive device by an as-yet-unidentified bombmaker.
French interior minister Gerard Collomb said this morning Abedi is believed to have travelled to Syria and had ‘proven’ links with ISIS.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the 22-year-old was known to intelligence services ‘up to a point’ and that it ‘seems likely’ he was not acting alone.
Rudd added: ‘It seems likely, possible, that he wasn’t doing this on his own so the intelligence services and the police are pursuing their leads in order to make sure they get all the information … that they need to keep us safe.
This morning French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb suggested British investigators had told their Paris counterparts that Abedi had probably travelled to Syria.
‘Today we only know what British investigators have told us – someone of British nationality, of Libyan origin, who suddenly after a trip to Libya, then probably to Syria, becomes radicalized and decides to carry out this attack,’ Collomb told BFMTV.
Pressed on how he knew Abedi had been in Syria, Collomb said this was the information that French and British intelligence services had.
Asked if he believed Abedi had the support of a network, Collomb said: ‘That is not known yet, but perhaps. In any case, (he had) links with Daesh (ISIS) that are proven.’
Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday that troops will be deployed onto Britain’s streets amid fears of a further terror attack.
She raised the terrorism threat level to ‘critical’ – the highest possible rating – on amid fears another atrocity is ‘imminent’.
Abedi, who was born in Manchester after his religious Muslim parents fled Libya to escape the Gaddafi regime, had returned to Libya in the past week, a school friend told The Times.
The friend said: ‘He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.’
According to the Sun, sources fear Abedi took advantage of the war in Libya to travel across the Mediterranean to Syria – without the knowledge of British officials.
Abedi was known to the security services before he walked into the arena on Monday night and detonated a bomb packed with nails, nuts and bolts, killing 22 people including children as young as eight. He is also being probed over alleged ties to an ‘ISIS recruiter’ in Manchester.
Yesterday, police carried out a controlled explosion at his home in the Fallowfield area of south Manchester following a dramatic raid by dozens of officers on the red-brick semi.
Chemical experts were seen outside with specialist instruments amid fears that he could have obtained radioactive material.
According to the Mirror, Abedi was friends with Raphael Hostey, also known as Abu Qaqa al-Britani, who served as an ISIS recruiter until he was killed in 2016 in Syria by a drone strike.
They were said to be family friends and it is feared Hostey may have helped radicalize Abedi.
The imam of Didsbury Mosque, Mohammed Saeed revealed Salman stopped going to the mosque in 2015 as he objected to anti- ISIS comments.
He said: ‘Salman used to come to the mosque occasionally, he wasn’t particularly friendly towards me because he didn’t like my anti-ISIS sermons.
‘He didn’t like what I was saying and showed me the face of hate. He came to the mosque less and less after that.’
Police yesterday recovered CCTV of Abedi striding into the Manchester Arena with what officers believe was a home-made bomb
Amid a series of other revelations, it was claimed that his father – an airport security officer – had left the UK to fight in Libya.
Sources also said his mother had raised concerns about her son’s radical views before she herself left for Libya.
Within hours of the attack carried out by Abedi, police arrested his brother Ismail, 23, outside a Morrison’s in Chorlton, Manchester and last night they were quizzing him on suspicion of involvement in the bombing.