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The parents of Manchester Arena terrorist Salman Abedi are “keeping a low profile” in Libya, where they are under “constant” surveillance by the Libyan authorities, it was reported today.
Ramadan Abedi and Samia Tabbal left the UK for Libya four weeks before their son carried out the deadly 2017 suicide bombing, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds more.wikipedia
Ramadan, who was arrested and later released by the Libyan authorities upon awakening from the attack, remains a suspect in the UK police investigation, along with his wife Samia.
Ramadan, a Libyan citizen, fought against the Gaddafi regime with a militant group that was once designated as a terrorist organization by the United States.
Yesterday, in the investigation into the attack, a senior director general of MI5 said that the Islamist terrorist Abedi was probably influenced in his views by his father.
Salman’s brother, Hashem Abedi, is in prison for life for aiding in the terrorist attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. His other brother, Ismail, recently left the UK after being called to testify in the investigation of the attack.
The claim was made when the security chief, referred to only as Witness J, also told the investigation that opportunities to detain Salman at Manchester airport were missed four days before the attack.
The attacker was brought to Libya by his parents in April 2017 with a one-way ticket, but returned to the UK on May 18, 2017, four days before his attack.
Witness J agreed that Abedi should have been placed on a ‘port actions list’ to alert the police when he returned from Libya.
“It would have been the best course of action,” he said.
“We relied on investigators to make judgments about who should take some kind of port action and we have since standardized the approach.
“I think it would have been a more robust process if we had introduced it earlier.”
Despite denying knowledge of the attack, Ramadan is a suspect in the ongoing police investigation into the Manchester Arena bombing.
His fingerprints were found inside a car used by his sons to store explosives and material to make bombs. Both he and his wife have refused to cooperate with the investigation of the attack.
Ramadan currently lives with Samia in her family home on the outskirts of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla El-Mangoush told the BBC that the Libyan and British authorities are in contact with the Abedi family.
Ms El-Mangoush, who was born in Britain, told the broadcaster: ‘I think there is a collaboration between the attorney general’s office and some figures in England related to this issue.
“I am not sure if there are any positive results. We respect the judicial system and do not want to interfere, but we are also willing to collaborate from a political perspective if there is something we can do on our side. ‘
Libya extradited Hashem Abedi to the UK in 2019. He was imprisoned for life, with a minimum sentence of 55 years, for the murder of 22 people after it was discovered that he had helped his brother plan the attack .
Yesterday, Witness J told the investigation that Ramadan was “likely” to “shape” the extremist beliefs of his son Salman.
The MI5 officer also revealed how security services knew that Salman had ties to a serious criminal gang in the city prior to the attack.
The investigation heard from Witness J how MI5 was about to reopen an investigation into Salman’s terrorist ties.
A meeting was due to be held nine days after Salman carried out the attack, according to the investigation.
The evidence, given behind a wooden screen specially made to protect the identity of the MI5 officer, was heard in the ongoing investigation into the terrorist attack.
The investigation is examining whether an investigation into Salman should have been reopened as a topic of concern in 2016, before the atrocity.
As part of the investigation, officials have tried to obtain evidence from friends and family about Salman’s background and how he became radicalized.
The audience had previously heard how Salman’s brother, Ismail Abedi, had fled the country after receiving a notification demanding that he attend the investigation.
He said he would only assist in the investigation if he was granted immunity from prosecution, a request that was rejected. His brother, Hashem, has been jailed for life for helping Salman carry out the 2017 attack.
But when asked about his father, Ramada, Witness J told the investigation today: “Salman Abedi was assessed as likely that his extreme views were reported by his father, Ramadan Abedi.”
Witness J also said in the investigation that it was “reasonable” not to reopen an investigation into Salman after two separate pieces of intelligence were received on him in the months leading up to the attack.
Salman was in contact, directly and indirectly, with six different “topics of interest” in the years leading up to the attack, the officer said.
The senior officer also revealed that Abedi had ties to a serious criminal gang in the city.wikipedia
Abedi was investigated as a ‘topic of concern’ himself in 2014 and briefly in 2015, and a meeting was days away to decide whether to reopen his case when he launched his attack.
The intelligence received in the months leading up to the attack was evaluated at that time to relate to “non-infamous activity” or “non-terrorist criminality” on his part.
Paul Greaney QC, for the investigation, said that “in hindsight, this intelligence was very relevant to the planned attack, but the significance of it was not fully appreciated at the time.”
But Witness J told the investigation: ‘These were fragments of the image you had at the time. In our post-attack work, looking back, we can see if it was very relevant to the planned attack. ‘
Mr Greaney told the investigation that ‘the general assessment of the security service
As of December 2013, Abedi’s phone number was collected as being linked to ‘Subject of Interest A’ who was suspected of planning to travel to Syria to join the fighting.
He appeared again in 2015, this time after meeting on several occasions with ‘Subject of Interest B’, who was previously associated with al-Qaeda and was under investigation for facilitating the trip to Syria.
The final appearance was as an associate of a ‘long-standing’ research subject who had group affiliations in Libya, described as ‘Subject of Interest C.’
The second two people were said to have had a radicalizing influence on Abedi, but they are believed not to have learned of his attack plans.
Mr Greaney told the investigation that ‘the general assessment of the security service of the intelligence landscape as it is is that none other than Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi’, his brother who served a life sentence for helping to build the bomb ‘ ‘, he was consciously involved in the attack plan.
In October 2015, Abedi was thought to have direct ties to a high-ranking ISIS figure in Libya and reopened as a topic of interest, but the case was closed the same day the ties were discovered to be through a third person.
In April 2016, January 2017 and April 2017, Abedi was identified as a ‘contact of a contact’ with three individual stakeholders: the first was providing financial support to Syria, the second was believed to have previously traveled to Syria, and the third supposedly facilitating the trip to Syria.
On March 3, 2017, Salman Abedi was one of 687 subjects of interest to reach a ‘priority indicator’ for his case to be reopened as part of Operation Clematis, as a result of information received a year earlier.
On May 1, three weeks before the attack, MI5 evaluated Abedi’s case and decided that he met the criteria to be reopened, but it was correctly believed that he was abroad, probably in Libya.
On May 8, Abedi was one of 26 people referred to Operation Narcissus to consider a new “low-level” investigation into whether he had re-engaged with Islamist extremism.
His case was to be considered by an MI5 team on May 31, nine days after the attack, but the meeting was “tragically overshadowed by events,” Mr. Greaney told the investigation.
Witness J said that the Clematis process “was a relatively new process designed to assess the risk of people not being investigated.”
Running the process on closed topics of interest too often “could have an effect on priority investigations,” he added.
The officer described how a report by the Joint Terrorism and Analysis Center (JTAC), a part of MI5, in 2010 highlighted the ‘proximity between violent extremism and criminal gangs in Manchester.
Sir John Saunders, the chairman of the investigation has ruled that there is “material of central importance” relevant to the question of whether MI5 could have prevented the attacks that cannot be disclosed to the public.
As a result, for the first time in an investigation or investigation since 9/11, some of the hearings will be held behind closed doors.
The investigation is examining whether Salman Abedi should have been reopened as a topic of interest in 2016, in light of what MI5 and the police were aware of at the time.
A second question will be whether Abedi should have been reopened as a topic of interest in the first months of 2017 in response to the information received on two occasions.
The last question is whether Abedi should have been included in a list of ‘port actions’ in 2017, which would have alerted the police of his return from Libya, four days before the attack.
The investigation continues.
Samia Tabbal Quick and Facts
- Ramadan Abedi and Samia Tabbal left UK for Libya four weeks before bombing
- They are living in their family home on the outskirts of the Libyan capital Tripoli
- Ramadan fought against Gaddafi regime with fighters deemed as a terror group
- His youngest son Hashem is in prison for life in UK over the Manchester bombing
- Salman’s other brother Ismail has fled the UK ahead of giving evidence to inquiry