A senior judge has issued a warrant for the arrest of Salman Abedi’s older brother, the suicide bomber at the Manchester Arena.
Ismail Abedi, 28, fled the country before being forced to testify in the ongoing public inquiry into the May 2017 atrocity in which 22 people were killed and hundreds more injured as they left an Ariana Grande concert.
The chair of the inquiry, Sir John Saunders, has successfully applied to a Supreme Court judge to issue an arrest warrant.
It means Ismail Abedi will be arrested and brought under investigation if he returns – and a criminal case will be opened against him if he does not return before the investigation is completed.
Salman Abedi’s younger brother Hashem Abedi has been behind bars for at least 55 years for helping his sibling prepare for the bomb and the attack.
Paul Greaney QC made the request to Mr Justice Sweeney at the High Court in Manchester this morning.
Outlining the May 2017 attack, the QC said: “The motivation for the attack is clear. That motivation is violent extremism in the form of adhering to the Islamic State ideology.”
Ismail Abedi, the lawyer said, “is the older brother of two murderers” and has evidence “of a high degree of relevance” to give.
He added: “The respondent undoubtedly has relevant evidence about how Salman Abedi and his younger brother have been radicalized.”
The QC noted that Abedis’ father, Ramadan, had been revealed as evidence yesterday during the investigation that he was a member of an “Islamic militia militia”, the Feb. 17 Martyrs’ Brigade.
It was also revealed that Ramadan has ties to the Al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Mr Greaney said, adding that there were questions for Ismail Abedi about whether his father’s “violent Islamist extremism.” . .
Ismail Abedi, the court was told, was friends with convicted terrorist Abdalraouf Abdallah, who testified during the investigation yesterday about Salman Abedi’s changing attitudes in 2015 and 2016, leaving him behind drug use and partying and becoming more religious.
Ismail Abedi was ‘stopped’ by counter-terror police in August 2015, and analysis of his phone revealed material suggesting a ‘Islamic state mentality’, the court was told.
The device also contained photos of Salman Abedi with weapons in Libya, the QC said.
Mr Greaney said the investigation would like to ask Ismail Abedi whether he played a role in the radicalization of Salman Abedi and whether he had any training in Libya.
Ismail Abedi also had “evidence about the preparation of the bombing, as his DNA was found on a hammer in a vehicle containing the explosives.”
The court was told Ismail Abedi had been issued a warrant to testify before the investigation on October 21, but that he was “arrested” at Manchester airport on August 28, where he told officers he was only leaving the country for would leave three weeks.
He was released and managed to board a flight to Istanbul the next day. His family is believed to have been followed.
Mr Greaney said the inquiry was only notified of his departure on August 31 and thus the chairman had “no chance” to take action.
The day before he was due to testify, Ismail Abedi’s lawyer emailed the investigating attorney to confirm that he was “unwilling to attend” as it could harm himself and his family, the QC said.
The flight from the country was a “pretty deliberate” violation of the test requirement, he said.
He urged the court to issue a warrant for the arrest of Ismail Abedi if he returns so that he can be taken to the investigation, adding that if he had not returned by next year before the investigation’s conclusion, the the intent of the Crown Prosecution Service was to bring criminal charges against Ismail Abedi.
Abedi’s attorney Rebecca Filletti argued that the warrant was “neither necessary nor proportionate given the evidence that might be presented.”
She pointed out that her client was abroad and therefore an order could not be executed.
Manchester’s courts are some of the busiest in the country with a large number of cases every week.
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Ms Filletti pointed out that her client had been questioned by police and had not been charged with any criminal offences, and “urges caution” regarding the alleged forensic evidence against him.
But Judge Sweeney granted the petition, which was officially filed against Ismail Abedi’s alias Ben Romdhan.
The judge said he would publish his reasons next week.