TRIPOLI (REUTERS) - The father of the bomber who killed 22 concert-goers in an attack in Manchester told Reuters in the Libyan capital on Wednesday (May 24) that he had last spoken to his son some five days ago, by phone, and “everything was normal.”
Ramadan Abedi, who was detained by a Tripoli counterterrorism force during the interview, said his son Salman had told his family that he was heading on pilgrimage to Mecca.
“I spoke to him about five days ago... there was nothing wrong, everything was normal,” Abedi said. He did not say where his son was at the time.
Another of Abedi’s sons, Hashem, was detained on Tuesday evening in Tripoli on suspicion of links to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said Ahmed Bin Salem, a spokesman for the Special Deterrence Force, also known as Rada.
“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (ISIS) with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” Bin Salem said. “He was in contact with his brother and he knew about the attack.”
He said Hashem, 20, had travelled from London to Tripoli on April 16.
British interior minister Amber Rudd said earlier that the bomber had recently returned from Libya. Her French counterpart Gerard Collomb said the man had links with ISIS and had probably visited Syria as well.
But Ramadan Abedi said he was sure Salman had not been a member of the militant group.
“Salman doesn’t belong to any organisation,” he said.
“The family is a bit confused because Salman doesn’t have this ideology, he doesn’t hold these beliefs.
“We condemn these terrorist acts on civilians, innocent people,” he said.
Abedi also said he was certain his son had not been in Syria.
“I checked his two passports and there wasn’t anything in them, he didn’t travel to Syria,” he said.
While Reuters was interviewing Abedi, several unmarked vehicles carrying heavily armed Rada forces drove up to the family home in the Tripoli suburb of Ayn Zara and detained him.
Rada did not give a reason for his arrest.