The emerging profile of 22 year Salman Abedi, the home grown suicide bomber or shahid (martyr) who perpetrated the Manchester Arena massacre, whose family were Libyan refugees, raises questions about the political future of UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the looming June 10, snap elections called over the Brexit impasse. Abedi was claimed by ISIS as one of their own, “a solider of the Caliphate.” With arrests of four suspects, following the Manchester Arena massacre, police are now saying “we may be dealing with a network.” The Manchester Arena attack triggered UK PM May ordering the deployment of thousands of soldiers to prevent an imminent attack after raising the threat level to the highest level, “critical.”
In the wake of the dastardly Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people, especially young girls, injuring 59, many with life threatening wounds, questions abound about the policies May implemented as former UK Home Minister. May had been the long term Home Minister in the former Cameron Conservative governments. Her track record on lax immigration controls and surveillance of radical Muslim communities ironically may have contributed to the massive terror explosion at 10:30 PM at the close of U.S. pop star Ariane Grande’s concert that shredded the lives of those killed and injured with a bomb loaded with deadly shrapnel of nuts and bolts.
Here’s what we know about Abedi, the perpetrator of this heinous attack on the 20,000 attendees at Ms. Grande’s Manchester Arena concert. Police obtained a photo ID card from his remains identifying him as the suspected bomber. They stormed his residence in South Manchester seeking information about both him and possible jihadist network connections. He was born in the UK to Libyan refugee parents who lived in a tight émigré community. He prayed at a Mosque with known Al Qaeda connections to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. A number of worshipers who left to join ISIS as foreign fighters.
Abedi had made numerous trips to Libya following the fall of the Gadaffi regime and may have received training in bomb making with powerful ingredients. His travels to and from Libya must have put him on the Mi-5 watch list. Abedi had enrolled at a local university studying business management. He appears to have enrolled for the 2016 academic year but not attended classes. More concerning was he had outward vestiges of becoming radical such as wearing a long Islamic Islamic gabilla gown, Kufi skull cap and growing a beard.
Note what this UK Telegraph article revealed, “Everything we know about Salman Abedi, named as the Manchester suicide bomber:”
Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.
A school friend told The Times: “He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.”
He had become radicalized recently – it is not entirely clear when – and had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fundraising for jihadists.
Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school. The imam last night said that Salman Abedi, who wore Islamic dress, had shown him “the face of hate” when he gave a talk warning on the dangers of so-called Islamic State.
His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Tripoli but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Whalley Range area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least a decade.
Abedi went to school locally and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out. His trips to Libya, where it is thought his parents returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, are now subject to scrutiny including links to jihadists.
A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.
Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda.
Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.
Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi. The mosque at the time vehemently denied the claim. “This is the first time I’ve heard of the LIFG. I do not know Salah,” a mosque spokesman said at the time.
At the Abedi family home in Elsmore Road, a non-descript red-brick terrace, neighbors told how Abedi had become increasingly devout and withdrawn.
Lina Ahmed, 21, said: “They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.
“He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’
A family friend, who described the Abedis as “very religious”, said most of the family had returned to Libya, leaving only Salman and his older brother Ismail behind.
As to why UK PM Theresa May is partly to blame for the lax surveillance of radicals like suicide bomber Abedi, we turn to a UK Spectator article in July 2016 by Jonathan Foreman about May’s track record as Home Secretary under former Conservative PM David Cameron, “Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary is alarming, not reassuring.”
Despite her carefully fostered reputation for toughness, Mrs. May’s record on extremism is perhaps the least impressive aspect of her checkered tenure at the Home Office. Any public official who seriously addresses radicalization, ghettoization and extremism risks being labeled an Islamophobe or worse. It takes a brave politician, one more committed to doing the right thing than to securing a glorious political future, to take on this hornets’ nest; Mrs. May was not such a politician. This began to be clear during the Trojan Horse affair, when official reluctance to confront radicalization in Birmingham schools prompted a concerned Education Secretary to venture onto the Home Secretary’s turf. (Her characteristic fury at this trespass was damaging to both departments at the time, and may well wreak havoc into the new government. Certainly her firing of Michael Gove’s as Justice Minister, despite the fact that his incomplete prison reforms have been universally lauded, looks like a destructive act of petty vengeance and personal spite.)
It became more apparent when Mrs. May, having delivered some appropriate sound-bites, avoided potential career-inhibiting controversy by ensuring that the Home Office’s efforts to deal with tricky issues like female genital mutilation, honor killings and forced marriage remained as low key – and low impact – as possible. But it is even more obvious in the investigation Mrs. May eventually set up into whether Britain’s Sharia courts, some legal, some not, might possibly discriminate against women in matters of divorce, domestic violence and child custody, as a result of a ‘misuse’ of Sharia teaching. (In the past the Home Secretary has implicitly claimed a surprising intimacy with Islamic law and political thought, asserting in 2014 that the actions of Isis ‘have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Koran.’)
Then there was the cynical political correctness. Mrs. May talked about coming down hard on hate crimes and lambasted the police about a lack of diversity. But she abjectly failed to identify the child rape rings of Rotherham, Rochdale, Sheffield, Bradford and Oxford as the racially and ethnically motivated hate crimes that they were. [SEE: Peter McLoughlin, Easy Meat: inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal, New English Review Press, 2016.]
May has also done little to reverse various policing trends that have alienated the public from the police, including the abandonment of neighborhood policing, the substitution of decoy-like PCSOs and CCTV for beat patrols, and the massaging of crime statistics, At the same time Mrs. May has given the nod to massive, transformative budget cuts that may genuinely make Britain’s police forces unfit for purpose.
As the then shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pointed out, three years after May took over the ministry, the number of people refused entry had dropped by 50 per cent, the backlog of finding failed asylum seekers had gone up, the number of foreign prisoners removed had gone down, and the number of illegal immigrants deported had also gone down. Tens of thousands of international students kicked out of the country by the Home Office – in a panicked response to a TV documentary about a test cheating scam – then turned out to have been wrongly deported.
UK PM Theresa May’s track record as Home Secretary may now been thrust into the public limelight as a result of the Manchester Arena massacre by UK born Jihadist, the late Salman Abedi. The prior neglect by Mi-5 and UK security services monitoring jihadists in the country’s midst may impact on the looming snap election originally called to empower her to resolve the Brexit impasse. With her raising the terror threat to its highest level in the UK following the Manchester Arena attack, perhaps Conservative backbenchers might question her policies and performance.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The New English Review.