Europe

Manchester Arena inquiry: Bomber Salman Abedi had ‘royal flush’ of radicalising influences, inquiry hears

The Manchester Arena bomber had the “royal flush” of radicalising influences, which included his father, older brother, and prolonged absences from school to join the fighting in Libya, an expert has told the inquiry.

Salman Abedi had “what you might call the sort of royal flush” of radicalising influences, according to Matthew Wilkinson, a Muslim convert and academic expert on extremism.

“They’re all there ready, and then the catalysts were particularly virulent and vicious, so the sort of full package was there,” he told the inquiry into the bombing.

‘Moments of opportunity’ to stop bomber’s journey

Abedi’s journey began in 2013, four years before the attack, but there were “moments of opportunity when it might have been interrupted, in my opinion”, Mr Wilkinson said.

“If a number of those factors are missing, that might also mean someone wasn’t nudged into that world view in the first place and a positive catalyst might lead someone off to a totally different world view and outcome.”

He pointed to a “prolonged disengagement with mainstream English education” as a factor in the radicalisation.

Education was “one of the principal mechanisms” by which children of migrants and migrants themselves, integrate themselves into society, improve their employment opportunities and get to know people, Mr Wilkinson said.

But Abedi had “very low attendance rates” and was sent to the “inclusion” unit at Burnage Media Arts College for damaging school property and then excluded from school entirely.

Manchester Arena bombing victims remembered by their loved ones

Bomber’s ‘repeated’ struggles to settle at school

Salman and Hashem were removed from school on unauthorised leave in 2009 by their parents to return to Libya for the summer, “so the engagement with mainstream schooling and then further managed action did not happen”.

Teachers said Salman and his younger brother Hashem, who helped build the bomb, had an inability to focus on class and a tendency to be easily distracted, the inquiry heard.

There was a “repeated pattern” of Abedi making the “start of an attempt” to engage with formal education and then “dropping away, disengaging and falling into delinquency and even violence very quickly”, Mr Wilkinson said.

Absent father’s dangerous influence

Abedi’s father, Ramadan, moved back to Libya in 2015, and was only present in the UK for 102 days in the next two years ahead of the attack.

“He wasn’t there to encourage Salman or Hashem, in education,” Mr Wilkinson said. “He wasn’t there to give the fatherly advice and guidance that we all need, especially in the teenage years. He wasn’t there to help him steer clear of gang-like activity or to try and make sure he didn’t take drugs.”

When he was there, Ramadan was not a good influence.

There was evidence that, from the Libyan civil war in 2011 onwards, when Abedi dropped out of school and travelled there with his father and brothers, Abedi was “surrounded” by people with heavy weaponry, including machine guns.

In 2012, 2014 and 2017, he was pictured holding weapons, in front of logos of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, an Islamist militia.

His father also showed support for an imam in Libya called Sadiq Al-Ghariani, who had “authorised” suicide attacks, and for a preacher called Mansoor al-Anezi, who had been investigated over a suicide bomb plot in Exeter.

Source: Read Full Article