Manchester Arena bomber's brother flees UK to dodge public inquiry whilst friend is arrested trying to leave country

The older brother of Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi is no longer in the UK and the bomber’s childhood friend was arrested on Monday trying to leave the country, the public inquiry into the terror attack has heard.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 11:43 am
The public inquiry will also hear evidence about what was known about Salman Abedi by the security services and police, his education background, and evidence about Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, which the Abedi family attended

Both Ismail Abedi and Ahmed Taghdi had been given court orders warning them to attend the inquiry this week to answer questions about the radicalisation of the bomber who carried out the attack on May 22 2017.

Mr Taghdi, 29, accompanied Salman Abedi on a visit to jailed terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah, who experts believe “groomed” the bomber, and Ismail Abedi was found to have “Islamic State” propaganda material on his phone.

Both were arrested after the bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 bystanders and injured hundreds of others.

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Abdalraouf Abdallah, who is refusing to cooperate with lawyers for the Manchester Arena inquiry, befriended suicide bomber Salman Abedi and was visited by him in jail in the months before the terrorist murdered 22 people and injured hundreds more in the terror attack

Neither man was charged with any offence and both were told they have the right not to answer any questions that may incriminate them at the public inquiry, sitting in Manchester.

Paul Greaney QC, addressing chairman of the inquiry Sir John Saunders, said Ismail Abedi had refused to co-operate with the inquiry but had been ordered to attend on Thursday.

However, he is no longer in the country and there is “no indication” when he will return.

Mr Greaney said: “As he surely must understand, if he does not do so the public may infer that he has something to hide and so, sir, may you.”

Hashem Abedi, younger brother of the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi, who has been convicted of all 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder encompassing the remaining injured, and one count of conspiring with his brother to cause explosions

Ismail Abedi and the bomber’s parents are both believed to be in Libya and are also not co-operating with the inquiry.

Mr Taghdi was told on Friday that if he did not attend the inquiry this week he would be arrested.

He attempted to leave the country on Monday and as a result was arrested and is now in custody.

The hearing was told that he was able to provide evidence of a return ticket to the UK on October 20. His original destination was not disclosed.

He is now due to give evidence on Thursday, while Abdallah, currently in custody, is due to give evidence on Wednesday, both in person.

The inquiry has been told that both are key witnesses as the hearings turn to why and how Salman Abedi and his younger brother and fellow bomb-plotter, Hashem, became radicalised.

Mr Greaney said: “This is without question one of the most difficult and troubling questions for the inquiry to grapple with.

“It is very difficult to comprehend why a person with any shred of decency could ever think of detonating a suicide bomb in the midst of a crowd, killing or maiming many innocent victims.”

On Tuesday the inquiry will hear evidence from radicalisation expert Dr Matthew Wilkinson.

The inquiry will also hear evidence about what was known about Salman Abedi by the security services and police, his education background, and evidence about Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, which the Abedi family attended.

The hearing continues.