MANCHESTER - The suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a concert in the northern British city of Manchester on Monday (May 22) has been identified as Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan descent.
He was named by police and Prime Minister Theresa May the day after the deadly attack, which also left dozens wounded, on the concert by US pop star Ariana Grande.
“The perpetrator was Salman Ramadan Abedi, who was born and brought up in Britain,” Mrs May said, condemning his actions as “callous and cowardly”.
Abedi went to local schools, was a supporter of Manchester United football team and worked in a bakery, said BBC.
He was also a member of a deeply religious family and apparently turned to radical Islam in recent years, reported the Financial Times, citing friends and neighbours.
He was born in Manchester in 1994 to Libyan parents who reportedly fled to London from the regime of dictator Muammar Gaddafi before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester. He is thought to have at least three siblings - an older brother named Ismail who was born in London, a younger brother, and a sister named Jomana who were born in Manchester, the BBC reported.
The family have lived in Manchester for at least 10 years, the US officials said. Police raided a house in Elsmore Road in Fallowfield earlier on Tuesday.
A family friend, who described the Abedis as “very religious”, told FT most of the family had returned to Libya, leaving only Salman and Ismail behind.
“They have not been there for quite a while. Different people come and go,” said Mr Alan Kinsey, 52, a car-delivery driver who lives across the street.
One member of Manchester’s Libyan community told The Guardian newspaper: “He was such a quiet boy, always very respectful towards me.
“His brother Ismail is outgoing, but Salman was very quiet. He is such an unlikely person to have done this.”
However a senior figure from the Didsbury Mosque which the Abedis attended told The Guardian that when he once gave a sermon denouncing terror, Abedi stared him down.
“Salman showed me a face of hate after that sermon,” Mr Mohammed Saeed said of the 2015 encounter. “He was showing me hatred.”
Abedi had recently returned from Libya, according to The Times newspaper’s front page on Wednesday, which cited a school friend as saying he left three weeks ago and returned in the last few days.
A US government source has said investigators were looking into whether Abedi had travelled to Libya and whether he had been in touch with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militants there.
A government security official told FT the focus of the investigation is on whether Abedi acted alone.
“Determining whether or not the SoI (subject of interest) is part of a wider group is our main priority right now,” the source was quoted as saying.
Officials said that the suspected bomber did not appear to be involved in any active intelligence investigations, though they stressed this did not mean he was unknown to them.
Abedi began studying business and management at Salford University in Manchester in 2014, a source told the Press Association news agency, but he dropped out after two years and did not complete his degree.
He did not live in university accommodation, had not been in any trouble at the university, was not on any radar for pastoral or social care and was not known to have participated in any university societies.
It is understood Abedi never met the university’s resident imam.
The university said in a statement that Abedi was one of its students and it was helping the police with their investigation.
A 23-year-old man arrested by police in a separate move in south Manchester in connection with the attack on Tuesday was believed to be Abedi's brother, news reports said.
Manchester is home to one of the largest Libyan communities in the UK and neighbours have talked about the family having a Libyan flag flying in its house at certain times of the year, reported the BBC.
It said the raided area was known to have been home to a number of Islamist extremists in recent years; some with links to Syria and Libya.
A trustee of the Didsbury Mosque, also known as Manchester Islamic Centre, told the Press Association it was likely Abedi had attended there.
Mr Fawaz Haffar said Abedi's father used to perform the call for prayer at the mosque, and one of his brothers had been a volunteer there. He said Abedi's father was currently in Libya and had been there for a while.
Mr Haffar stressed the mosque was what he called a moderate, modern, liberal mosque.
Mr Abdalla Yousef, a spokesman for the mosque, said Abedi's father and brother had prayed there but Abedi had worshipped at another mosque.
"I have managed to track down somebody who knows the family. He confirmed his father and sister and the rest of the family had moved to Libya and had moved there straight after the revolution after Gadaffi was killed," Mr Yousef said.
He said it was possible the brothers had travelled between the two countries since then.
Abedi used an improvised explosive device, apparently packed with metal, to kill concertgoers at the Manchester Arena on Monday and end his own life.
Citing CCTV footage recovered by detectives, The Times reported Abedi had placed the device in a suitcase which he set on the ground before it detonated.