Teenager ‘started laughing’ when Manchester Arena attacker talked of bomb-making

A teenager has told how he “started laughing” when the Manchester Arena attacker encouraged him to study chemistry to learn how to make bomb.

The young man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was giving evidence in the trial of Hashem Abedi, 22, who is accused of plotting the May 2017 bombing with his brother Salman Abedi, who died in the blast.

In a police interview played in court, the witness, then aged 16, told of one occasion when he was in Hashem Abedi’s car, accompanied by his brother and Salman Abedi.

Recalling the conversation with Salman, the student said: “He has told me stuff. We was in the car… ‘do chemistry so you can build a bomb’.

Manchester Arena incident
Manchester Arena incident

“Before that he talked about martyring. He talked about Jihad. ‘Jihad is beautiful’.

“And he was talking to me and he said to me, like he goes, basically not I wanna be a martyr but he was talking about how being a martyr was something big.”

He added: “I didn’t used to think he was an inspiration in any way shape or form, do you know what I mean?”

Asked how he reacted to the bomb comment, the witness said: “I would not associate their family to be that type.

“I just looked and I did not even take it in. I looked out and started laughing.

“I laughed it off. He (Salman) might have laughed too. He might have said ‘heh’.

“Even if he said to me ‘I’m building a bomb’ I would not have believed him. That’s how insane it is, you know what I mean?”

The witness told jurors how the Abedi brothers would remind him to go to prayers by text message.

Salman also visited his house and talked about religion, the teenager said: “He would speak about how this life is temporary, make sure you don’t get lost.

“He would tell me ‘clean the house’. He would not stay for long.”

The witness said he respected Salman even though he appeared “fatigued” and to “lack energy”.

Hashem was like a “handyman” who liked to talk about fixing cars, jurors heard.

On Salman, the teenager said: “I was revising maths. He came in and said ‘I hate education’. Hashem said the same thing.”

On May 22 2017, Salman Abedi detonated a homemade device, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more as they left an Ariana Grande concert.

Hashem Abedi allegedly helped his sibling to stockpile bomb-making materials, sourcing two of the three chemicals for TATP explosives.

The defendant, from Manchester, has denied 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting with his brother to cause explosions.