Manchester suicide attack plotter Abedi guilty of mass murder

Hashem Abedi refused to turn up in London court to hear verdict

The brother of the suicide bomber who detonated a home-made explosive device outside a British pop concert has been found guilty of murdering 22 people.

Hashem Abedi, 22, was in Libya at the time of the attack but played a key role in building the bomb and inciting his elder brother Salman to launch the attack.

Relatives of victims gathered for the verdicts in the London courtroom sobbed and shouted jubilantly as the guilty verdicts were read out.

Hashem was not in court to hear the verdicts after he sacked his legal team and refused to attend any further hearings.

He was convicted of murdering the 22 people, 10 of whom were aged under 20. The youngest was aged 8.

Salman waited until the end of a concert by US pop star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena in north-west England before triggering the bomb as parents arrived to collect young fans.

He was also convicted of attempted murder of the 237 who were physically injured in the attack. Hundreds more had psychological trauma.

The court heard that the brothers worked closely together to gather the ingredients for the bomb.

Hashem ordered the goods, moved them about the city of Manchester and provided the technical expertise to wire up the device.

He was detained in Libya the day after the attack and remained in custody for more than two years before he was extradited to the UK. Hashem claimed he was tortured while in Libyan custody.

Hashem Abedi, the brother of a suicide bomber who attacked a concert in Manchester in 2017, is seen after being arrested, in this undated picture released by Libya's Ministry of Interior's Special Deterrence Forces and obtained by Reuters on July 18, 2019. Libya's Ministry of Interior's Special Deterrence Forces/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES . NO ARCHIVES.

He had denied any role in the attack and claimed he knew nothing of Salman's plans for the mass killing.

Lawyers for 11 of the bereaved families welcomed the verdicts.

"Families have waited a long time to see Hashem Abedi face justice for his crimes and I think the overwhelming emotion for most will be one of relief that he cannot hurt anyone else," Victoria Higgins said.

"It has been incredibly painful for them to hear, in detail, what happened to their loved ones and the calculated way in which the Abedi brothers plotted to end their lives."

Hashem will receive a mandatory life sentence at a hearing  later date.

Police said they still wanted to speak to the bomber’s father, Ramadan Abedi, who moved the family to the UK in the 1990s.

Mr Abedi was alleged to have been a prominent figure in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group that fought to unseat Col Muammar Qaddafi.

He travelled to Tripoli with his two sons in August 2011 to deliver medical supplies and aid to rebels fighting the Qaddafi regime, a report by the UK Parliament’s intelligence committee said.

“It appears highly likely that Salman and Hashem’s extremist views were influenced by their father and fostered by other members of their immediate family,” the committee said in a 2018 report into terrorist attacks in the UK the year before.

Mr Abedi left Manchester in north-west England and returned to Libya in 2016 while his two sons remained alone in the family home.

He remains in Tripoli and has not returned to the UK since the attack.

"Almost three years ago, Greater Manchester Police had to announce to the world that Manchester had suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks this country has ever experienced," said Russ Jackson, assistant chief constable of Greater Manchester Police.

“Salman Abedi exploded the bomb that caused this devastation, but people now know that this horrific attack was planned with his brother, Hashem Abedi, who we now see convicted of the 22 murders and the attempted murder of all those others who were injured.

“Although he was in Libya at the time of the attack, Hashem Abedi is every bit as guilty as his dead brother and this is reflected in the judgment we see today.

"He was his brother’s driver, the quartermaster sourcing deadly materials and the munitions technician in those months running up to the attack."

EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS