Salman Abedi

Salman Abedi was a British citizen of Libyan descent who killed 22 people and wounded 250 in a suicide bombing after a concert venue in Manchester, England. The attack, which took place on May 22, 2017, targeted young concertgoers who had just left a performance by American singer Ariana Grande.“Manchester attack: What we know so far,” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-40008389;
Beth Abbit, “The number of people injured in Manchester Arena attack rises to 250,” Manchester Evening News (Chadderton), June 22, 2017, http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/number-people-injured-manchester-arena-13223904.
Abedi carried out the bombing, the deadliest terror attack in Britain since the July 2005 London bombings, with a homemade explosive device that he constructed in less than four days, reportedly using tutorial videos he found on YouTube.Euan McKirdy, Zayn Nabbi, Samantha Beech and Darran Simon, “22 dead after blast at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester,” CNN, May 23, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/22/europe/manchester-arena-incident/index.html;
Chloe Farand, “Manchester bomber Salman Abedi learned how to make explosive device from YouTube videos,” Independent (London), June 24, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-bomber-salman-abedi-learned-explosive-device-youtube-videos-a7805961.html.
Before carrying out the attack in Manchester, Abedi had previously fought for armed Islamist groups in Libya, and had reportedly maintained contact with ISIS operatives based there.Nazia Parveen, “Manchester bombing: police say Salman Abedi did not act alone,” Guardian (London), July 6, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/06/manchester-bombing-police-believe-salman-abedi-did-not-act-alone;
Esther Addley, Nazia Parveen, Jamie Grierson, and Steven Morris, “Salman Abedi: from hot-headed party lover to suicide bomber,” Guardian (London), May 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/26/salman-abedi-manchester-arena-attack-partying-suicide-bomber;
Rukmini Calilmachi and Eric Schmitt, “Manchester Bomber Met with ISIS Unit in Libya, Officials Say,” New York Times, June 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/world/middleeast/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi-islamic-state-libya.html.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Manchester attack on May 23, 2017, calling Abedi a “soldier of the caliphate.”Lizzie Dearden, “Manchester Arena attack: Isis claims responsibility for suicide bombing that killed at least 22 people,” Independent (London), May 23, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-arena-attack-isis-responsible-claim-suicide-bombing-islamic-state-ariana-grande-concert-a7751221.html.

Abedi was born on December 31, 1994, in Manchester, England, as the second of four children in a family of Libyan descent. His parents had previously fled Libya as opponents of the Gaddafi regime. Growing up, Abedi attended the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, where his father, who reportedly supported the radical cleric Abu Qatada, served as a prayer leader.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135. Acquaintances report that although Abedi and his family were religiously observant, Abedi regularly drank, smoked, and enjoyed soccer.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
Martin Evans, Victoria Ward, and Robert Mendick, “Everything we know about Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi,” Telegraph (London), May 26, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/everything-know-manchester-suicide-bomber-salman-abedi/.

Abedi attended the Burnage Academy for Boys from 2009 to 2011 and Manchester College from 2011 to 2013. He began a course in business management at Salford University in 2014, but dropped out two years after enrollment.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
Martin Evans, Victoria Ward, and Robert Mendick, “Everything we know about Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi,” Telegraph (London), May 26, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/everything-know-manchester-suicide-bomber-salman-abedi/.
In 2011, Abedi traveled to Libya during school vacation with his father to fight for the U.K.-sanctioned Libyan Islamic Fighting Group against the Gaddafi regime.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135; Esther Addley, Nazia Parveen, Jamie Grierson, and Steven Morris, “Salman Abedi: from hot-headed party lover to suicide bomber,” Guardian (London), May 26, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/26/salman-abedi-manchester-arena-attack-partying-suicide-bomber. After the regime’s overthrow later that year, Abedi’s parents and younger siblings moved back to Libya, leaving Salman and his older brother Ismail behind in England. Salman reportedly traveled back and forth between the two countries in the subsequent years, and the Guardian reports that he may have fought for an Islamist group again in Libya in 2014.Martin Evans, Victoria Ward, and Robert Mendick, “Everything we know about Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi,” Telegraph (London), May 26, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/everything-know-manchester-suicide-bomber-salman-abedi/;
Nazia Parveen, “Manchester bombing: police say Salman Abedid did not act alone,” Guardian (London), July 6, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/06/manchester-bombing-police-believe-salman-abedi-did-not-act-alone;
Jamie Doward, Ian Cobain, Chris Stephen, and Ben Quinn, “How Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was radicalised by his links to Libya,” Guardian (London), May 28, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/28/salman-abedi-manchester-arena-bomber-radicalisation.

Abedi reportedly got into some trouble and began to express extremist views after his family’s departure from England in 2011. In 2012, he was arrested on minor theft and assault charges.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
Frances Perraudin, “Salman Abedi was unknown to Prevent workers, says police chief,” Guardian (London), May 30, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/30/salman-abedi-unknown-prevent-workers-manchester-police.
At the same time, however, Abedi was becoming “more and more religious,” according to a BBC article, as he reportedly grew a beard and began to dress more conservatively.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
Laura Smith-Spark, Lauren Said-Morohouse, Atika Shubert, and Steve Almasy, “Salman Abedi: Bomber in Ariana Grande concert attack,” CNN, May 24, 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/23/europe/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi/.
While at Manchester College, acquaintances reported him to a counterterrorism hotline due to his professed support of terrorism and statements that he made such as “being a suicide bomber is OK.”“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135. After hearing a sermon condemning terrorism given at the Didsbury Mosque in 2015, a neighbor reported that Abedi grew “angry” and objected to it, and the imam who gave the sermon claimed that Abedi reacted with hostility.“Salman Ramadan Abedi named by police as Manchester Arena attacker,” Guardian (London), May 23, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/manchester-arena-attacker-named-salman-abedi-suicide-attack-ariana-grande;
Katrin Bennhold, Stephen Castle, and Suliman Ali Zway, “Hunt for Manchester Bombing Accomplices Extends to Libya,” New York Times, May 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/world/europe/manchester-bomber-salman-abedi.html.
Abedi was also reported to authorities by community members that year for suspected involvement in terrorism.Robert Mendick, Gordon Rayner, Martin Evans, and Hayley Dixon, “Security services missed five opportunities to stop the Manchester bomber,” Telegraph (London), June 6, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/24/security-services-missed-five-opportunities-stop-manchester/. The Guardian reports that security officials were aware of Abedi prior to the attack, but that he was not thought to pose a high security risk.“Salman Ramadan Abedi named by police as Manchester Arena attacker,” Guardian (London), May 23, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/23/manchester-arena-attacker-named-salman-abedi-suicide-attack-ariana-grande.

According to intelligence officials, Abedi met with members of an ISIS unit while in Libya. The unit, Katibat al-Battar al-Libi, has been linked to the November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris, which was organized and directed by a former member of the unit, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.Rukmini Calilmachi and Eric Schmitt, “Manchester Bomber Met with ISIS Unit in Libya, Officials Say,” New York Times, June 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/world/middleeast/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi-islamic-state-libya.html. Although the extent of his communications with the unit remains undisclosed, Abedi reportedly remained in contact with some members by phone while he was in Britain.Rukmini Calilmachi and Eric Schmitt, “Manchester Bomber Met with ISIS Unit in Libya, Officials Say,” New York Times, June 3, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/03/world/middleeast/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi-islamic-state-libya.html. Abedi’s most recent trip to Libya took place just weeks before the May 2017 attack, when he traveled to Libya on April 15, 2017, and returned to Britain on May 17, five days before the attack.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
“Timeline Shows Manchester Bomber’s Family’s Deep Ties to Libya,” New York Times, May 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/27/world/europe/salman-abedi-britain-manchester-bomber-family-libya.html.
During that last trip, Abedi’s parents, reportedly worried about his extremist views, briefly seized his passport, but returned it to him when he claimed that he wanted to travel to Mecca.Katrin Bennhold, Stephen Castle, and Suliman Ali Zway, “Hunt for Manchester Bombing Accomplices Extends to Libya,” New York Times, May 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/world/europe/manchester-bomber-salman-abedi.html. According to a statement made by the French Interior Minister, Abedi may have briefly traveled to Syria during this last trip abroad. A statement later made by his sister supports this suspicion, as she claims that Abedi likely carried out the attack as revenge after he saw Muslim children dying in Syria as a result of U.S.-led airstrikes.Martin Evans, Victoria Ward, and Robert Mendick, “Everything we know about Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi,” Telegraph (London), May 26, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/everything-know-manchester-suicide-bomber-salman-abedi/.

Abedi was seemingly “intent on committing the attack within days of his return,” according to a report by the BBC. He began buying items that he would use to make a homemade bomb, such as nuts, screws, and batteries, immediately after his return.“Manchester attack: Who was Salman Abedi?” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40019135;
C.J. Chivers, “Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery,” New York Times, May 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/24/world/europe/manchester-arena-bomb-materials-photos.html.
Abedi constructed the bomb that he would use in the attack in under four days. Although authorities suspected that he may have received some in-person training from ISIS-linked operatives in Libya, an investigation revealed that he used tutorial videos on YouTube and other open-source online material to manufacture the explosive that he would use.Chloe Farand, “Manchester bomber Salman Abedi learned how to make explosive device from YouTube videos,” Independent (London), June 24, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-bomber-salman-abedi-learned-explosive-device-youtube-videos-a7805961.html. CEP has found that duplicate versions of one of the videos have been uploaded to YouTube since the attack.“Violent Extremist Content Still Found on YouTube,” Counter Extremism Project, July 26, 2017, https://www.counterextremism.com/blog/violent-extremist-content-still-found-youtube. Abedi also reportedly used student loans to finance his purchase of materials, his frequent trips to Libya, and other aspects of the terror plot.Robert Mendick, Martin Evans, and Victoria Ward, “Exclusive: Manchester suicide bomber used student loan and benefits to fund terror plot,” Telegraph (London), May 27, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/26/exclusive-manchester-suicide-bomber-used-student-loan-benefits/.

On May 22, 2017, Abedi detonated his bomb in the foyer of the Manchester Arena around 10:30 p.m. local time, just as crowds began to leave a performance by singer Ariana Grande, killing 22 people in addition to himself and wounding 250 others.Katrin Bennhold, Steven Castle and Declan Walsh, “‘Forgive Me’: Manchester Bomber’s Tangled Path of Conflict and Rebellion,” New York Times, May 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/27/world/europe/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi-ramadan-abedi.html;
“Manchester attack: What we know so far,” BBC News, June 12, 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-40008389;
Beth Abbit, “The number of people injured in Manchester Arena attack rises to 250,” Manchester Evening News (Chadderton), June 22, 2017, http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/number-people-injured-manchester-arena-13223904.
Shortly before carrying out the attack, around 10:20 p.m., Abedi phoned his mother in Libya, asking her to “please forgive [him] for anything [he] did wrong.”Katrin Bennhold, Steven Castle and Declan Walsh, “‘Forgive Me’: Manchester Bomber’s Tangled Path of Conflict and Rebellion,” New York Times, May 27, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/27/world/europe/manchester-bombing-salman-abedi-ramadan-abedi.html. Abedi had packed the explosive in a metal container that he likely concealed in a small backpack that he was carrying, and used nuts and screws as makeshift shrapnel.C.J. Chivers, “Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery,” New York Times, May 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/24/world/europe/manchester-arena-bomb-materials-photos.html. According to authorities, the bomb was “designed to kill and maim indiscriminately the largest number of innocent people,” and had a battery more powerful than is normally used in vest- or backpack-style bombs.C.J. Chivers, “Found at the Scene in Manchester: Shrapnel, a Backpack and a Battery,” New York Times, May 24, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/24/world/europe/manchester-arena-bomb-materials-photos.html;
Helen Pidd, “Manchester Arena bomb was designed to kill largest number of innocents,” Guardian (London), June 9, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/09/manchester-arena-bomb-designed-kill-largest-number-innocents.
According to police reports and a postmortem examination, Abedi’s body was severely maimed from the explosion and he died at the scene of multiple injuries. He was later identified by his fingerprints, DNA, and a bank card bearing his name that was found at the scene of the attack.“Inquest into death of Manchester bomber Salman Abedi opens,” Guardian (London), June 16, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/16/inquest-into-death-of-manchester-bomber-salman-abedi-opens.

The following day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, calling Abedi a “soldier of the caliphate.”Lizzie Dearden, “Manchester Arena attack: Isis claims responsibility for suicide bombing that killed at least 22 people,” Independent (London), May 23, 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-arena-attack-isis-responsible-claim-suicide-bombing-islamic-state-ariana-grande-concert-a7751221.html. Investigations revealed that although Abedi was not part of a network, he had had links to other known terrorists and that others had been aware of his plans to carry out the terror plot. Authorities have alleged that Abedi had links Raphael Hostey, an ISIS recruiter who was reportedly killed in Syria, and Abdal Raouf Abdallah, who was convicted of helping others join terror groups in Syria.Nazia Parveen, “Manchester bombing: police say Salman Abedi did not act alone,” Guardian (London), July 6, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/06/manchester-bombing-police-believe-salman-abedi-did-not-act-alone;
“Libyan refugee found guilty of Syria terror offences,” Guardian (London), May 11, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/11/libyan-refugee-guilty-syria-terror-offences-stephen-gray-abdalraouf-abdallah.
At least 17 arrests were made in connection to the attack, including Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem Abedi, in Libya.Aric Jenkins, “17th Suspect Arrested in Connection With Manchester Bombing,” Time, June 3, 2017, http://time.com/4804166/manchester-bombing-arrests/;
Josh Halliday, “Manchester bomber’s brother should be tried in UK, mayor urges May,” Guardian (London), August 31, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/31/manchester-bombers-brother-should-be-tried-in-uk-mayor-urges-may.
British prosecutors accused the younger Abedi of aiding his brother in collecting materials to build his explosives. On March 17, 2020, London’s Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) found Hashem Abedi “jointly responsible” for the attack and guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.“Manchester Arena bombing: Hashem Abedi guilty of 22 murders,” BBC News, March 17, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-51926162; “A man who conspired with his brother to carry out a terror attack that killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena has been convicted,” Greater Manchester Police, March 17, 2020, https://www.gmp.police.uk/news/greater-manchester/news/news/2020/march/a-man-who-conspired-with-his-brother-to-carry-out-a-terror-attack-that-killed-22-people-at-the-manchester-arena-has-been-jailed/. The younger Abedi was sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in prison on August 20, 2020.Sylvia Hui, “Bomber’s brother gets 55 years for Manchester concert attack,” Associated Press, August 20, 2020, https://apnews.com/3c0994f1bbf1644e36278a4ede45dab4.

On September 6, 2020, a public inquiry as launched to investigate the motivation behind the March 2017 Manchester Arena attack. The inquiry, which was established on October 22, 2019, by U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel, is being held at Manchester Magistrates’ Court and is expected to last until spring 2021. Chaired by Sir John Saunders, the inquiry explores whether the attack could have been prevented, details of the security arrangements of the arena, emergency responses, and the radicalization of the Abedi brothers. At an inquiry hearing on September 29, Patrick Gibbs QC, who represents the British Transport Police, claimed that the Abedis “did not act alone” and others who provided technical and financial help, as well as training and support to the brothers are still “at large.”“Manchester Arena Inquiry: Terror attack investigation opens,” BBC News, September 6, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-manchester-54025242; “Manchester Arena bombings: Attackers 'did not act alone', inquiry hears,” Sky News, September 29, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/manchester-arena-bombings-attackers-did-not-act-alone-inquiry-hears-12085470; “Public inquiries,” Institute for Government, May 21, 2018, https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/public-inquiries.

On September 30, the public inquiry revealed that Salman Abedi was allegedly associated with six different MI5 “subjects of interests,” (SOI). Accordingly, intelligence on Abedi was collected by MI5 for six years until the Manchester bombing. In March 2014, Abedi was briefly an SOI but his file was closed after five months due to his lack of engagement with individuals of interest. Furthermore, from April 2016 to January 2017 Abedi was also allegedly a “second level” contact for three other SOIs who provided support or recruitment for ISIS in Syria. Additionally, Abedi visited Abdal Raouf Abdallah twice in two different U.K. jails—once in February 2015 and then in January 2017. Despite these affiliations, MI5 assessed Abedi’s actions as relating to possibly non-nefarious or non-terrorist criminality.“Manchester Arena bomber linked to six MI5 'subjects of interest', inquiry hears,” Guardian, September 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/sep/30/manchester-arena-bomber-linked-to-six-mi5-subjects-of-interest-inquiry-hears.

While meeting with a public inquiry legal team on October 22, 2020, Hashem Abedi admitted that he played a “full and knowing part” in planning the Manchester attack. Abedi also admitted he and his brother carried out the attack on behalf of ISIS. The admission became public that December.Paul Britton, “LIVE: Manchester Arena bombing inquiry hears Hashem Abedi admitted ‘he played a full part’ in the planning of the attack,” Manchester Evening News, last updated December 7, 2020, https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/live-manchester-arena-bombing-inquiry-19411777; Lizzie Dearden, “Manchester Arena bomber’s brother ‘admits terror attack was for Isis,’” Independent (London), December 9, 2020, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-arena-bombing-hashem-isis-inquiry-b1768849.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1804273_.

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