Manchester Arena inquiry is shown images of suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his family posing with machine guns and ISIS book in Libya
The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena atrocity was today shown images of the Abedi family posing with machine guns in Libya.
One photo shows Ismail and Ramadan Abedi, the elder brother and father of suicide bomber Salman Abedi carrying guns in the African country. In 'n ander beeld, Ismail Abedi points to a book about Isis at a shop.
A third photo shown to the inquiry shows suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, who killed 22 people and injured hundreds more at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017, also posing with a large machine gun.
The inquiry at Manchester Magistrates’ Court is currently hearing evidence relating to the radicalisation and background of Salman Abedi and others. It follows three weeks of ‘closed’ hearings, during which MI5 and counter-terror police chiefs have been questioned on intelligence about the Abedis.
In one photo, Ismail and Ramadan Abedi pose with machine guns in Libya
In 'n ander beeld, Ismail Abedi is seen pointing to an Isis book at a bookshop
A third image shows Salman Abedi, 22, carrying a machine gun
Gister, the inquiry heard friends of Salman Abedi were in ‘shock and disbelief’ when they learned he was the man responsible for the atrocity.
Mohammed Alzoubare said Abedi distanced himself from their friendship group in the year leading up to the 2017 attack and had become more religious but his ‘good friend’ had never expressed extremist views to him.
On learning of the revelation that Abedi was the bomber, he told the inquiry: ‘After the news said that it was Salman, we were shocked. Some of us were even questioning it because we thought he was still in Libya. At first there was disbelief, skok. That was the first reaction to be honest.’
Maandag, Mr Alzoubare said their fathers were friends and he got to know Abedi better after moving from London to Manchester in about 2014.
Hy het gesê: ‘Initially we played football, probably twice, three times a week. We watched football at his. He used to cook, we used to eat at his. Dis dit.’
Counsel to the inquiry Alasdair Henderson asked: ‘Did he ever say anything that made you think he had very strong views or even extremist views?’
Mr Alzoubare replied: ‘Not at the time, geen.’
Mr Henderson said: ‘Did you see any change in him between when you first moved up and 2016/2017?’
Mr Alzoubare said: ‘Maybe in that period he distanced himself from the lads a bit. He would probably go to the mosque more often, he would probably go to the gym while we were doing whatever we were doing.’
Mr Henderson went on: ‘Did you get the sense that anyone was worried about him?’
The witness replied: ‘Not really, geen.’
Handout file photo issued by Greater Manchester Police of the CCTV image of Salman Abedi at Victoria Station making his way to the Manchester Arena, op Mei 22, 2017
Police near the scene of the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017
The inquiry heard Mr Alzoubare received a phone call from Abedi in Libya on May 15, a week before the bombing.
Mr Alzoubare said: ‘He didn’t say ‘I’m going to do anything’, it was a general conversation… but in hindsight I’m thinking this guy probably knows what he was doing. I’m a good friend, he was probably saying farewell.’
Mr Alzoubare was also friends with convicted terrorist Abdulraouf Abdallah, who helped a number of men travel from Manchester to Syria to fight for so-called Islamic State.
He had visited Abdallah in prison on three occasions in 2017 – before the bombing – and on one such visit on March 6 Abedi was planning to join him but did not turn up.
Mr Alzoubare explained Abdallah was ‘family’ as his cousin had married Abdallah’s sister and it was a ‘sort of duty’ to see him, with the purpose to ‘socialise’ and ‘uplift his spirits’.
The pair were also in regular phone contact in the weeks leading up to the bombing, including a 38-minute call from Abdallah on the afternoon of May 22, but Mr Alzoubare said his friend ‘would call all the time because he was bored in prison’.
The inquiry heard Mr Alzoubare was referred to the Government’s Prevent counter-terror programme in 2016 due to fears he was being radicalised, although he said he was not aware at the time it was Prevent and thought he was undergoing ‘counselling’.
He denied knowing anything about attempts to radicalise him.
His barrister Una Morris asked him: ‘Did you have anything at all to do with the atrocity at the Manchester Arena?’
Mr Alzoubare replied: ‘None whatsoever.’
The inquiry continues.