Jailed terrorist refusing to co-operate with Manchester Arena inquiry

A jailed UK terrorist is refusing to co-operate with the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena terror attack.

Abdalraouf Abdallah, 26, is refusing to speak to lawyers for the inquiry who want to know about his links to the Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi, the hearing in Manchester was told.

Abedi, 22, detonated a home-made shrapnel packed bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the arena on May 22 2017, killing 22 bystanders and injuring hundreds more.

On the third day of the public inquiry it was also revealed:

– Abedi and Abdallah had discussed martyrdom and were in contact in the months leading up to the attack

– Abedi visited the jailed terrorist in two different UK prisons

– Abedi visited Kuwaiti national Mansoor Al-Anezi described as a close associate of failed suicide bomb attacker Nicky Reilly in Exeter.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said: “Salman Abedi’s relationship with Abdalraouf Abdallah was one of some significance in the period prior to the bombing and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.”

He said Abdallah was refusing to co-operate, claiming legal privilege not to incriminate himself.

Mr Greaney added: “We are continuing to pursue this line of inquiry.

“We hope on reflection he will co-operate, so will press for him to give evidence before the inquiry.”

A general view inside the room where the Manchester Arena Inquiry is being held (Peter Byrne/PA)
A general view inside the room where the Manchester Arena Inquiry is being held (Peter Byrne/PA)

Salman Abedi’s remaining family, including father Ramadan, mother Samia and sister Jomana, who all live in Libya, have refused to co-operate as has younger brother Hashem Abedi, jailed for life last month for his part in the bomb plot.

Ismail Abedi, the eldest brother who lives in the UK, is also claiming legal privilege.

Mr Greaney said: “This is most unhelpful and we hope Salman Abedi’s family will reflect and understand they have a moral obligation to provide the information we require.”

He said the inquiry must try to understand how Abedi became radicalised and why he carried out this “horrific act of violence”.

The inquiry was told Abdallah, jailed for nine years in 2016 for terror offences, had numerous telephone contacts from 2014 with Abedi who visited him at HMP Belmarsh and HMP Altcourse, Liverpool.

Abdallah, from Manchester, was left wheelchair-bound after he was shot and paralysed from the waist down while fighting in the Libyan uprising and returned to the UK for treatment.

In February 2017, three months before the bombing, prison authorities found he had an illicit phone and had tried to make calls to Abedi.

The inquiry also heard about Abedi’s connection to Mansoor Al-Anezi, linked to Reilly who attempted a suicide bombing on a restaurant in Exeter in 2008.

Abedi was with Al-Anezi when he died from cancer in 2017 and property belonging to him was found at the Abedi home in south Manchester.

The links were a number of matters relating to how Abedi became radicalised, to be explored at the inquiry, Mr Greaney said.

They included his education, his friendships and associates and his religious community, including his attendance at Didsbury Mosque, the hearing was told.

At the trial of his younger brother Hashem Abedi earlier this year, jurors heard how the two changed, gave up education, wore traditional Islamic clothing and became more religious in the months and years before the bombing.

The public inquiry, scheduled to last into next spring, was adjourned until Monday.