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Father, brother of Manchester bomber arrested in Libya

© Mahmud Turkia, AFP |Forces loyal to Libya's UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) stand in Sirte, east of the capital Tripoli, as they clear residential neighbourhoods that were previously controlled by Islamic State (IS) group on August 22, 2016.

Video by Duncan WOODSIDE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-05-25

The suspected Manchester Arena suicide bomber’s younger brother, Hashem Abedi, and father, Ramadan Abedi, were arrested by Libyan counter-terrorism forces on Tuesday evening in the capital Tripoli. The bomb killed 22 people and injured 59.

British armed police also arrested the eldest brother of Salem Abedi, Ismail, in Chorlton, south Manchester.

Police in the UK have so far announced the arrests of six men and one woman. One of the those detained was carrying a package when he was arrested in the town of Wigan, which is just 17 miles (27 km) west of Manchester.

The most recent arrest came Wedneday night in the town of Nuneaton, Warwickshire, police said.

A major manhunt for any possible accomplices who may have helped Salem Abedi build the bomb is underway amid fears they could be ready to kill again, and several homes have been raided by the UK's special forces in connection with the investigation.

Prime Minister Theresa May also said Wednesday that security officials had raised their assessment of the threat to Britain to “critical”, which indicates an attack is imminent.

Part of that ongoing threat assessment is the fear that Salem, who blew himself up in the bomb attack, could have been working as part of a group with links to militants who have the ability to plot and execute suicide bombings.

Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins told reporters that it was very clear that they were investigating what he called “a network”, but he declined to give any further details on the operation.

The family in Libya

The youngest brother -- who was arrested in Libya on Tuesday -- is suspected of planning an attack in Tripoli and of links with the Islamic State (IS) group.

According to the Kalam Research think-tank, which has an office in Tripoli, Salem Abedi’s father, Ramadan Abedi, left Saudi Arabia for London in 1992 and joined the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in 1994.

Salem was born in Manchester in 1994 to parents of Libyan birth and raised in Britain. His parents moved to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester after leaving London, where they lived for at least 10 years.

Abedi’s father and elder brother Ismail were active at Disbury Mosque in south Manchester, said a trustee of the mosque, Fawzi Haffar.

Haffar said, “He (Ramadan Ismail) was devout as far as I know,” Haffar said.

“He’s in Libya and has been for a while,” he added.

Abdalla Yousef, a spokesman for the mosque, said Abedi’s father and the rest of the family apart from the two sons had returned to Libya in 2011 after Gadaffi’s death.

Britain’s interior minister, Amber Rudd, said Salman Abedi had recently returned from Libya and her French counterpart, Gerard Collomb, said he had proven links with Islamic State group and had probably visited Syria too.

FRANCE 24 has been unable to independently verify the links to IS group or Syria.

Accomplice?

A second source source with knowledge of the UK investigation said security services suspect an accomplice helped Abedi build the bomb and then plot the attack.

Salem Abedi attended Burnage Boys’ School in south Manchester from 2009 to 2011, the school confirmed. He was a keen Manchester United fan.

“He always had a bit of an attitude problem,” Leon Hall, who went to school with him, told the Daily Mail newspaper. “I can’t say I really liked the man.”

After leaving school, he went on to begin a business and management course in 2014 at the nearby University of Salford.

Alan Kinsey, 52, who lived in the house opposite Abedi, said he thought there had been just one man for the last 7-8 months and a couple had been living there as well before that.

He said the man used to wear traditional white Islamic dress, was aged in his 20s, 6 ft. 2-4ins (about 1.9 metres), and very skinny.

“No one really interacted with him,” Kinsey said.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Date created : 2017-05-24

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