Manchester Arena bomber visited convicted terror offender in prison
The Manchester Arena bomber had visited a convicted terror offender in prison “more than once,” an inquiry into the attack has heard. Despite this, the UK’s domestic intelligence service MI5 did not reopen an investigation into attacker Salman Abedi, The Independent reported.
The security service also knew of his contact with Daesh supporters and travel to Libya, but failed to consider Abedi as a security threat, the British newspaper said.
“MI5 information indicated that Abedi visited a terror offender in prison on more than one occasion, but MI5 assessed that this did not justify reopening him as a subject of interest,” counsel to the inquiry, Paul Greaney, said.
One of the bomber’s schoolteachers had also seen a photo of Abedi holding a gun in Libya during the country’s civil war but had believed his claim that he had just been “shooting.”
The tutor “saw an image on Abedi’s computer of him holding a gun while in Tripoli, but his explanation that his family had lots of land in Libya and he used to go shooting there was accepted,” the hearing was told.
Photos that Abedi posted on social media included one of him making a hand gesture used by Daesh supporters, the inquiry heard. Greaney said the inquiry would consider if it had been “reasonable” for MI5 to close an active investigation into Abedi in July 2014 and then fail to reopen it in light of new intelligence.
“Links with Abdalraouf Abdallah are of significant interest to the inquiry,” he added.
Abdallah, who also lived in Manchester, in northern England, attended the same school as Abedi and shared many associates with him, was jailed in 2016 for helping Daesh fighters travel to Syria.
The pair had regular contact with each other and Abedi visited Abdallah in two separate English prisons. Abdallah is still serving his sentence and has refused to answer questions from the public inquiry.
Abedi had also been at the deathbed of a suspected extremist preacher four months before he carried out the brutal attack on people leaving a concert by US singer Ariana Grande, The Times reported.
Mansoor Al-Anezi died of cancer on Jan. 17, 2017 and Abedi comforted him as he died. Greaney said that “various items related to Al-Anezi” had been found at Abedi’s family home in Manchester and that he had been in “frequent phone contact” with the preacher, the British newspaper added.
Source: Arab News