The father of the suspected Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi has denied that his son carried out the attack and has blamed the security services for it.
Ramadan Abedi was detained by counter-terror forces while taking part in a television interview in Libya. An eyewitness said Abedi was handcuffed by armed men, who drove him away in two unmarked vehicles.
Abedi told Reuters that his son Salman had told his family that he was going on pilgrimage to Makkah. “I spoke to him about five days ago … there was nothing wrong, everything was normal,” Abedi said.
He added that he was sure that Salman had not been a member of a jihadist group. “Salman doesn’t belong to any organisation,” he said. “The family is a bit confused because Salman doesn’t have this ideology, he doesn’t hold these beliefs. I didn’t expect that to happen, never,” Abedi said, adding that he thought there were “hidden hands” behind the attack and the security services were doing something against the Libyan community and the youth.
“We condemn these terrorist acts on civilians, innocent people,” he said.
Abedi also said he was certain Salman had not been in Syria. “I checked his two passports and there wasn’t anything in them, he didn’t travel to Syria,” he said.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said earlier that Salman Abedi had recently returned from Libya. Her French counterpart Gerard Collomb said the man had links with ISIS and had probably visited Syria as well.
Born in Manchester in 1994, Abedi was the son of Libyan-born refugees who fled to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime. It is thought they returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow.
Abedi went to Burnage Academy for Boys between 2009 and 2011, and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out, according to a source.
He was repeatedly flagged to the authorities over his extremist views but was not stopped, it emerged last night.
Counter-terrorism agencies were facing questions after it emerged Salman Abedi told friends that “being a suicide bomber was OK”, prompting them to call the Government’s anti-terrorism hotline.
Sources suggest that authorities were informed of the danger posed by Abedi on at least five separate occasions in the five years prior to the attack on Monday night.