Salman Abedi, suicide bomber who killed 22 people at Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester last May, was known to the UK security services, which monitored him at the time of his trip to war-ravaged Libya.
The Manchester Arena terrorist was rescued by the Royal Navy from the civil war in Libya three years before he committed the attack, British media reported.
Even though he was being closely monitored by security services, Salman Abedi and his brother Hashem are understood to have boarded the HMS Enterprise in Tripoli in August 2014, dispatched to evacuate British nationals as the internal situation drastically deteriorated. According to the Daily Mail, his case was closed just one month before the evacuation due to mistaken identity.
“For this man to have committed such an atrocity on UK soil after we rescued him from Libya was an act of utter betrayal,” a government source told the Daily Mail.
High-ranking security officials emphasized they didn’t think that Abedi, who was born in Manchester and had reportedly been to Libya several times after his parents moved back, had been radicalized at the time of the rescue operation, but rather became brainwashed after watching terrorism-related videos on the web.
“He was a British citizen so it was our job to safeguard him. Salman was one of many people in that mix and we absolutely had to evacuate him. He was not a threat at the time and it was in a very different context. His visits were not necessarily for nefarious purposes. He did things largely alone. The Internet played a large role when it came to his terror training,” a senior source told the media outlet.
Reacting to the report, the majority of social media users unleashed fury at the UK government, accusing it of complicity:
Given today’s news about the Manchester bomber being ‘rescued’ by our Navy from Libya, I think HM Govt has some serious explaining to do.
Cudos to Charles for highlighting this so long ago. https://t.co/rvKOdQ8bnO
— Stephen Brown (@StephenWFLabour) July 31, 2018
Well, well, well. What a great comfort to the families of the murdered souls knowing that our very own government assisted him.
— Steve Geddes (@Gedders74) July 31, 2018
What must it feel like for the parent of a child murdered by a jihadist terrorist knowing the armed services of your own country brought them here from an Islamic war zone when he was already a person of interest to MI5.
— Russell (@Russell84224389) July 31, 2018
Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was one of dozens of “Britons” rescued from a Libyan war zone and returned to Britain. Did no one think to investigate why he was in a war zone in the first place?
— Phil (@fullenglish71) July 31, 2018
Yes, rescued from Gadafi's Libya,which we helped to demolish,umm….like Iraq our foreign policy has helped create hell.
— Joe Byrd (@Joe90kerrByrd) July 31, 2018
Doing the same again for the White Helmets. This country never learns.
— Chez Avfc (@AvfcUTV1) July 31, 2018
True. Abedi travelled twice to Libya with his father to fight with UK funded anti-gaddafi forces. Not only did we provide means for him to return we helped train him.
— Phill Watson (@P_H_I_L_L) July 31, 2018
According to the official security review by David Anderson QC, a senior UK barrister, Abedi was put on the list of “subjects of interest,” along with some 20,000 others. The report suggested that MI5 had scheduled a meeting to discuss whether he “merited further examination” on May 31 – as we now know, a week after he committed the attack.
“On two separate occasions in the months prior to the attack, intelligence was received by MI5 whose significance was not fully appreciated at the time. It was assessed at the time not to be [related to] terrorism but to possible non-nefarious activity or to criminality on the part of Salman Abedi,” Anderson was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Anderson further stressed that the attack might have been “averted had the cards fallen differently.”On May 22, 2017, Salman Abedi carried out a suicide bomb attack at the entrance to Manchester Arena at the end of US pop star Ariana Grande’s concert, claiming the lives of 22 people and wounding some 120.
The UK government has requested the extradition of Salman’s brother, Hashem, who is imprisoned in Libya by a militia group and alleged to have helped buy materials for the bomb, to face trial for his involvement in the attack. The request has so far been refused.