Friend of bomber reveals ‘goodbye’ phone call from Salman Abedi days before Manchester Arena attack

Bomber Salman Abedi made a ‘goodbye’ phone call from Libya to a close friend days before he carried out the Manchester Arena attack, the public inquiry into the atrocity learned.

And the detective who led the subsequent investigation into the bombing said he believes no person or circumstance has led to the radicalization of mass murderers Salman and Hashem Abedi into violent Islamic extremism.

Chief Inspector Barraclough pointed to “common” and “separate” influences and said the brothers may also have served to radicalize each other.

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He also referred to an “element of self-radicalization” in terms of what the Abedis had read and heard.

“As these guys have grown up, there has been a journey toward radicalization,” DCS Barraclough told the evidence in evidence.

“But as it got closer to the actual atrocity, the planning and measures taken to carry out the bombing, I suspect there has been a process of joint radicalization where the two probably fed on each other’s ideas and concepts. .

“There are potentially so many different things that could have contributed to this.”

But DCS Barraclough said it was “pretty overwhelming” that the motivation for the Arena attack was “support for the Islamic State.”



Salman Abdic

In October 2016, their mother, Samia Tabbal, went to Libya and left the brothers home alone — a period when DCS Barraclough said they might be “radicalizing” each other.

The public inquiry also heard Monday about despicable extremist images found on social media pages linked to the Abedis.

A social media account attributed to Hasham Abedi – who has now spent at least 55 years behind bars – praised Osama bin Laden as a “hero,” the investigation heard.

Another image showed Islamic State militants holding a man to a table and threatening to ‘cut off’ his hand with a sword.

DCS Barraclough said Hashem Abedi made a comment in support of the violence in the image.



An image of Hashem Abedi found by the police

Hashem had also “liked” a photo on Facebook of a passenger plane heading towards a building intended to be one of the Twin Towers with the words “for Allah,” said Paul Greaney, QC, counsel for the investigation.

Ismail Abedi, the older brother who was supposed to testify but has now flown abroad, also had a Facebook account.

Images found on it included men in camouflage clothing and ISIS logos, the investigation learned.



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Ismail Abedi posted an “infamous image” of a Jordanian pilot just before he was set on fire, under which he posted a caption that read “looking for seasoned firewood,” the investigation heard.

Images of a decapitated body and a burned man have also been found.

The study’s chair, Sir John Saunders, wondered if he could make recommendations to social media companies after the investigation – DCS Barraclough said it would be ‘absolutely astonishing’ if companies were able to avoid account deletions following a terror attack .



DCS Barraclough gives proof

The investigation, which resumed Monday after three weeks of closed hearings, is considering evidence related to the background and “radicalisation” of Abedi and his brother.

Salman Abedi called Alzoubare Mohammed in Manchester from Libya on May 15, 2017, eight days before the atrocity.

Mohammed gave as proof, saying that he got to know Abedi because their fathers were friends from the Libyan community.

He said of Abedi: “Initially we played football, probably two or three times a week. We watched football with him. He cooked, we ate with him. That’s it.”

“As Libyans and our background, we would talk about it if something happened.”

Mr Mohammed said Abedi said nothing to him that led him to believe he held extremist views, but indicated a change in him.

He said he wasn’t expecting the call from him and they had a “general conversation” in it.



Mr Mohammed providing proof

He said “nothing” was mentioned to point out Abedi’s plan and “in retrospect” he now believed that Abedi was saying goodbye.

“There was no indication whatsoever,” said Mr Mohammed.

“But afterwards I think ‘this man knows what he’s going to do’.”

Questioned by John Cooper QC, for the families of the victims, Mr Mohammed added: “He [Abedi] didn’t say I’m going to do anything.

“It was a general conversion – hello, how are you. I asked him how Libya was and he asked me what’s going on here, and that was it.

“But afterwards I think ‘this man knows what he is doing’.

‘I was a good friend. He’s probably saying goodbye.’

Mr Mohammed went on to say that he and his friends were in a “state of shock” when they heard the news of the bombing.

He said: “After the news said it was Salman, we were shocked. Some of us even doubted it because we thought he was still in Libya. First there was disbelief, shock. That was the first reaction.”

Mohammed said “terrorist activity” and “bombing” were not his “ideology” and that he had absolutely nothing to do with the attack, which killed 22 people after an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

The investigation will resume on Tuesday.

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