Parents of suicide bomber Salman Abedi named as suspects for 2017 Manchester Arena attack

Father’s fingerprints found in car used to store explosives

Ramadan Abedi, the father of Salman Abedi, the bomber who killed 22 concert-goers in an attack in Manchester, gestures as he speaks to Reuters in Tripoli, Libya, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Hani Amara      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The parents of suicide bomber Salman Abedi are among six people police still want to interview over the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more.

Ramadan Abedi, the bomber’s father, is being treated as a suspect after his fingerprints were found in a newly-purchased car used to store explosives while his son was in Libya in the weeks before the attack.

A public inquiry into the attack has heard of missed opportunities to stop Salman Abedi after he hung around the venue with a rucksack filled with explosives and shrapnel before detonating at the conclusion of a concert by US popstar Ariana Grande.

Ramadan Abedi was living in Libya at the time of the attack and has remained there ever since, including during the trial of a second son, Hashem, who was jailed for life earlier this year for helping his brother.

Details of the six people still being sought by police were revealed by the inquiry after a failed attempt by police to restrict information to the public about elements of their continuing investigations into the people who helped Salman Abedi.

Four of the six – including Ramadan Abedi and his wife Samia Tabbal – are suspects, while two others are wanted by police to trace, interview and potentially eliminate from their inquiries, according to a ruling published by the inquiry.

Although they have close relatives in the country, John Saunders, the head of the inquiry, said that the Abedis were “very unlikely” to return to the UK.

The Abedi family, staunch opponents of Muammar Qaddafi, fled the regime and settled in the north-west English city of Manchester in 1994, where they continued their opposition with like-minded émigrés.

Ramadan Abedi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was proscribed by the British government as a terrorist organisation until last year.

In August 2011, he travelled to Tripoli with the two sons who would become terrorists to deliver medical supplies and aid to rebels fighting the Qaddafi regime, a report by the UK Parliament’s intelligence committee said.

He returned to live in Libya in 2016, only coming back to the UK in the weeks before the bombing to fetch Salman and Hashem because of concerns about their radicalisation, police said after the trial of the latter.

Salman managed to travel back to the UK on May 18 – just four days before the attack – leaving Hashem at the family home on the outskirts of Tripoli.

In those final days, Salman collected the home-made bomb, hidden in a car while they were in Libya, and plotted the last details of the attack.

Ramadan Abedi was briefly held by militia in Tripoli after the bombing but was released and returned to the family home.

Police want to speak to his wife about comments made by two other people said to be “vital evidence”. Detectives have previously said that she continued to claim housing and other benefits from the state, despite moving to Libya in 2016.

The only one of the four suspects who has been interviewed, Elyas Elmehdi, has since left Britain. He has been convicted in his absence of a serious drugs offence and is likely to be jailed if he returns, say police.

Mr Elmehdi allowed the car storing the explosives, a white Nissan Micra, to be parked outside his housing block in Manchester before the Abedi brothers travelled back to Libya with their father. The brothers had owned the vehicle for just two days before flying back to Libya.

Police questioned him about the car but found there was insufficient evidence to charge him. The ruling said that police had further evidence to connect him with the car that contradicted what he previously said. Ruling against the police, Mr Saunders, a retired High Court judge, said his return was “extremely unlikely”.

A fourth suspect, Mohammed Soliman, is also out of the country and unlikely to return. He is said to have purchased bomb-making chemicals and is connected to the case through telephone evidence.

Of the two men who are not being treated as suspects, Majdi Alamari is believed to be in Libya and police want to speak to him about his involvement in buying welding equipment from China. The other man, Anas Abuhdaima, is believed to be in the UK but has not been traced.

It emerged at the trial of the bomber’s younger brother Hashem this year that 22 people had been arrested but only Hashem went before a jury.