Manchester attack: Police move in on arena bomber’s ‘network’
Manchester, England (CNN)A flurry of raids and arrests on Wednesday took aim at a terror network associated with the 22-year-old former university student who conducted the deadly bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester just days after his return from Libya, officials say. [restrict]
Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British-born national of Libyan descent, was identified by police as the suicide bomber in the attack on Manchester Arena, which killed at least 22 people, including children, on Monday night.
New details about Abedi, who is believed to have been killed, emerged Wednesday — including alleged links to terror groups, his troubles in Manchester after the death of a friend, his travel to Libya with a younger brother and their father’s attempts to keep them from returning to the UK.
“It is very clear that this is a network we are investigating,” Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said.
Arrest in Libya
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC that Abedi was on the radar of intelligence services.
Abedi was in Libya for three weeks and returned just days before his attack, US military officials assigned to US Africa Command told CNN. They said that information had been shared between US and British intelligence services, but a full analysis was underway to put those details in context.
In Libya, a brother of Abedi — identified as 20-year-old Hashim Ramadan Abu Qassem al-Abedi — was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of links to ISIS, according to a statement from a Tripoli militia known as the Special Deterrence Force. Nominally under the control of the Interior Ministry, the militia published the statement on its Facebook page.
The younger Abedi was allegedly planning a terror attack in Libya when arrested, the militia reported. He was picked up while allegedly receiving a money transfer from Salman Abedi.
CNN has not been able to independently verify the details from the militia. The UK Foreign Office, Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police had no immediate comment on the reported arrest in Libya.
The militia claims that the younger Abedi admitted knowledge about the Manchester attack and was in Britain for its planning. The statement also said he left the UK in mid-April and had been under surveillance about a month and a half. [/restrict]