Manchester bomber's 1,000 texts with ISIS recruiter

Abdalraouf Abdallah is accused of radicalising Salman Abedi before the Manchester Arena bombing

A convicted ISIS recruiter accused of radicalising Salman Abedi, the Manchester Arena bomber, sent the suicide bomber more than 1,000 text messages.

Abdalraouf Abdallah, 27, revealed his close friendship with Abedi, with whom he shared a Libyan heritage, while giving evidence to the Manchester Arena Inquiry on Thursday.

Abedi killed 22 people and injured more than 1,000 others after detonating a device after an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

The inquiry has been established to examine if opportunities to prevent the atrocity were missed and was told Abedi visited Abdallah in prison before the attack.

Abdallah, born in Manchester to Libyan parents, was sentenced to jail for recruiting people to join ISIS in 2016.

The inquiry had heard he was "hero-worshipped" by young Manchester Libyans after being shot while fighting as the country descended into civil war and before the bombing he had exchanged more than 1,000 text messages with Abedi.

Abdallah told the hearing he was not "grooming" Abedi into an "extremist mindset" and said his own fight was mainly against former Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, and Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.

"I don't even have an extremist mindset myself," he said.

"My fight was always from the start against Qaddafi and Assad. So I'm not a groomer."

In one message, Abdallah was said to have schooled Abedi on his beliefs around violence.

"As a Muslim, martyrdom is a good thing and it's one of the best things to God," he told the inquiry. "That's the teaching from our God and our Prophet, peace be upon him. If you think that's extreme or terrorist, then you have a problem with the Islamic religion itself."

He denied any role in the radicalisation of Abedi and said he was in prison at the time and his argument was with the Qaddafi regime.

The inquiry heard that his brother, Mohammed Abdallah, was also sentenced to jail for joining ISIS.

Matthew Wilkinson, a radicalisation expert, had told the inquiry panel that Abdallah was grooming Abedi.

The hearing has heard that members of the Abedi family believe a change in the behaviour of the brothers correlated with their relationship with Abdallah.

Abdallah was asked what happened when Abedi visited him in HMP Belmarsh on February 25, 2016.

"They came to see how I'm doing, 'what's going on, how's prison, how's your health'? Normal chit chat, this and that," said Abdallah.

He said he was still "haunted" about why Abedi committed the attack.

"What happened to Salman, it's something I cannot never ever, ever take out of my mind," he said.

"It's haunting me until now because he's my friend and the Salman that I knew, he had never spoken about something like that or done anything horrific like that. I feel like ISIS kidnapped my friend."

Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, was sentenced to jail last year for a minimum of 55 years after being convicted of 22 counts of murder for his role in helping his brother to prepare the attacks.

Another brother, Ismail, who has not been charged with any offence, was due to give evidence to the inquiry last month but has left the country.

Updated: November 25th 2021, 4:19 PM