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Manchester Arena Inquiry: Arena bomber's father part of militia, terrorist says Manchester Arena Inquiry: Arena bomber's father part of militia, terrorist says
(about 4 hours later)
Abdalraouf Abdallah said bomber Salman Abedi was "part of my circle"Abdalraouf Abdallah said bomber Salman Abedi was "part of my circle"
A convicted terrorist has admitted he was in the same Libyan militia group as the Manchester Arena bomber's father.A convicted terrorist has admitted he was in the same Libyan militia group as the Manchester Arena bomber's father.
Abdalraouf Abdallah, a friend of Salman Abedi, was brought from HMP Wakefield to give evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry into the 2017 attack.Abdalraouf Abdallah, a friend of Salman Abedi, was brought from HMP Wakefield to give evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry into the 2017 attack.
The 28-year-old accepted he joined the "Tripoli Brigade" in the Libyan war in 2011 and that Ramadan Abedi - Salman's father - was also part of the militia.The 28-year-old accepted he joined the "Tripoli Brigade" in the Libyan war in 2011 and that Ramadan Abedi - Salman's father - was also part of the militia.
MI5 consider Ramadan played a role in radicalising sons Hashem and Salman.MI5 consider Ramadan played a role in radicalising sons Hashem and Salman.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds more injured when Salman Abedi detonated his device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds more injured when Salman Abedi detonated his device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
The inquiry is investigating what role Abdallah, from the Moss Side area of Manchester, may have played in radicalising Salman and whether he knew in advance about the Arena attack.The inquiry is investigating what role Abdallah, from the Moss Side area of Manchester, may have played in radicalising Salman and whether he knew in advance about the Arena attack.
Giving evidence, Abdallah said that Salman Abedi was "part of my circle" and he had known the Abedi brothers "since we were babies".Giving evidence, Abdallah said that Salman Abedi was "part of my circle" and he had known the Abedi brothers "since we were babies".
Arena families: Mosque failed to act on extremismArena families: Mosque failed to act on extremism
Terrorist told to assist inquiry to help familiesTerrorist told to assist inquiry to help families
Bomber's brother had large amount of IS materialBomber's brother had large amount of IS material
The inquiry heard Salman Abedi visited him in prison in the months before the bombing.The inquiry heard Salman Abedi visited him in prison in the months before the bombing.
Abdallah said text exchanges with Salman Abedi - recovered in November 2014 - in which they discussed martyrdom were "normal chitchat".Abdallah said text exchanges with Salman Abedi - recovered in November 2014 - in which they discussed martyrdom were "normal chitchat".
The witness denied radicalising the bomber, saying: "I don't even have an extreme mindset myself" and "I am not a groomer and I was not grooming Salman to anything".The witness denied radicalising the bomber, saying: "I don't even have an extreme mindset myself" and "I am not a groomer and I was not grooming Salman to anything".
He added that a friend Elyas Elmehdi, who is a formal suspect in relation to the arena attack, was fighting in Libya at the time and had been telling him about the death of various friends.He added that a friend Elyas Elmehdi, who is a formal suspect in relation to the arena attack, was fighting in Libya at the time and had been telling him about the death of various friends.
"We were praying we want them to be accepted by God and for even us to be granted that place in heaven… as a martyr ourselves," he said."We were praying we want them to be accepted by God and for even us to be granted that place in heaven… as a martyr ourselves," he said.
Twenty-two people died in the bombing on 22 May 2017Twenty-two people died in the bombing on 22 May 2017
Pete Wetherby QC, representing several bereaved families, said the prisoner's lengthy chats with Salman Abedi were "about radicalisation, it was about discussing some kind of perverse death".
Abdalraouf Abdallah denied knowing about the Arena bombing in advance and told the court it was a "horrific act".
He also denied knowing about Abedi's radicalisation and said that "me and my boys will actually slap the hell out of him" had they known.
"We would have told his mum straightaway," he added.
He said Salman Abedi "probably" did fight in Libya, but he did not see the bomber "on the front line".
Abdalraouf Abdallah denied knowing about the radicalisation of Salman Abedi (pictured)
Abdallah was jailed in May 2016 after being convicted of facilitating the movement of money and fighters to Syria, where some of them joined the Islamic State group.Abdallah was jailed in May 2016 after being convicted of facilitating the movement of money and fighters to Syria, where some of them joined the Islamic State group.
He uses a wheelchair due to injuries he received in 2011 while fighting in Libya in a unit linked to Islamist militia group the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, the inquiry heard.He uses a wheelchair due to injuries he received in 2011 while fighting in Libya in a unit linked to Islamist militia group the 17 February Martyrs Brigade, the inquiry heard.
Abdallah said he was "trained by NATO" when he first joined the Tripoli militia.Abdallah said he was "trained by NATO" when he first joined the Tripoli militia.
He was asked if the arena bomber's father, Ramadan, had been involved in the fighting.He was asked if the arena bomber's father, Ramadan, had been involved in the fighting.
"I know he was helping. That's all I know," he said."I know he was helping. That's all I know," he said.
Ramadan Abedi is a suspect in the police investigation into the arena bombing, but has never been questioned because he lives in Libya.Ramadan Abedi is a suspect in the police investigation into the arena bombing, but has never been questioned because he lives in Libya.
The inquiry has previously been shown images of the family brandishing weapons and a UK counter-terror investigation recovered a shot of Salman Abedi in front of a logo of the militia group.The inquiry has previously been shown images of the family brandishing weapons and a UK counter-terror investigation recovered a shot of Salman Abedi in front of a logo of the militia group.
Abdallah denied seeing Hashem and Salman Abedi taking part in any fighting in Libya.Abdallah denied seeing Hashem and Salman Abedi taking part in any fighting in Libya.
Ramadan Abedi (right) with his son Ismail AbediRamadan Abedi (right) with his son Ismail Abedi
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked if both he and Salman Abedi had been "jointly praising the concept of martyrdom".Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked if both he and Salman Abedi had been "jointly praising the concept of martyrdom".
"Yeah that is what we're doing… This is the Islam religion," Abdallah said."Yeah that is what we're doing… This is the Islam religion," Abdallah said.
"It is not something that me and Salman made up."It is not something that me and Salman made up.
"If you think that is extreme or terrorist then you have got a problem with the Islam religion itself.""If you think that is extreme or terrorist then you have got a problem with the Islam religion itself."
Asked by inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders why he had been having such discussions with Salman Abedi, he said the pair had been listening to descriptions of "maidens of heaven and that's how it happened basically".Asked by inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders why he had been having such discussions with Salman Abedi, he said the pair had been listening to descriptions of "maidens of heaven and that's how it happened basically".
The witness said "most of my boys actually were involved" when asked if a friend from Manchester - Ahmed Taghdi - had taken part in the conflict.The witness said "most of my boys actually were involved" when asked if a friend from Manchester - Ahmed Taghdi - had taken part in the conflict.
When pressed if Mr Taghdi was one of those involved, he replied: "I believe he was."When pressed if Mr Taghdi was one of those involved, he replied: "I believe he was."
Mr Taghdi previously told the inquiry he did not fight in the conflict.Mr Taghdi previously told the inquiry he did not fight in the conflict.
The inquiry continues.The inquiry continues.
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