Manchester Arena terror attack: UK detectives seek five suspected of links to Libyan drugs gang

Only one person has been tried but parents and associate of Abedi brothers remain under suspicion

Hashem Abedi avoided a full-life term because he was 20 at the time of the Manchester Arena attack, but he will still serve at least 55 years. AFP
Hashem Abedi avoided a full-life term because he was 20 at the time of the Manchester Arena attack, but he will still serve at least 55 years. AFP

British detectives still want to question five people over the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people, it was reported on Sunday.

Investigations continue into potential accomplices of the suicide bomber Salman Abedi and his brother Hashem, the only man convicted of the attack. Hashem was extradited from Libya and was last August sentenced to a minimum of 55 years in prison for playing a key role in plotting the rucksack-bomb attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Police arrested 23 others during the investigation with five people held for 13 days, but none of them charged. Questions remain over the extent of the Abedis network after they secured help to buy material for the bomb and were known to have close connections with extremists.

Lawyers for the families of the victims said that many believed the conspiracy went beyond the Abedis.

An independent public inquiry was told of links between the brothers, drug-dealing gangs in Manchester and Libyan exiles who were dedicated to the overthrow of Col Muammar Qaddafi.

A detective investigating a separate drugs case on May 23, the day after the blast, overheard a suspected gang member saying, “Our boy did good at the Arena”, the ongoing inquiry heard last year.

The five wanted for questioning include Ramadan Abedi and his wife Samia Tabbal, the parents of the bombers, and a man who was interviewed by detectives before he fled the country, the detective who led the investigation told the Sunday Times.

Elyas Elmehdi allowed the car storing the explosives, a white Nissan Micra, to be parked outside his housing block in Manchester while the Abedis travelled back to Libya about a month before the attack. Hashem remained there while Salman returned four days before the bombing on May 22, 2017.

Elmehdi has been convicted in his absence of a serious drugs offence and police said he was likely to be sentenced to jail should he show up in Britain. He was questioned about the car but there was insufficient evidence to charge him.

“We are not certain where any of those individuals currently reside,” Det Chief Supt Simon Barraclough said. “However, we suspect the Abedi parents are in Libya.

“The investigation continues to establish if anyone else was involved in the Arena attack. It would not be appropriate to comment upon any other investigations that may or may not be being conducted.”

Updated: May 16, 2021 04:43 PM

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