Police have named 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a British citizen of Libyan descent, as the man suspected of carrying out the deadliest terror attack to hit the UK in 12 years.
Abedi was already known to authorities, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Wednesday. But it’s not yet clear why he was on their radar.
Rudd said authorities were aware of him, to a point. “The intelligence services know a lot of people, and I’m sure we will find out more what level they knew about him in due course,” she told the BBC.
“But at the moment all they have confirmed is that they did know about him, and as I say we will find out more when the operation is complete.”
Abedi is believed to have died in the powerful blast outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, though he has not yet been formally identified by the coroner, Manchester police said.
But Rudd told the BBC that Abedi may not have worked alone.
“It was a devastating operation, it was, as you say, more sophisticated than some of the attacks that we seen before. And it seems likely, possible, that he wasn’t doing this on his own,” she said. “So the intelligence services and the police are pursuing their leads in order to make sure that they get all the information, and reduce therefore the risk, that they need to keep us all safe.”
At least 22 people were killed and 59 injured after the bomb exploded at the Manchester Arena on Monday night, as concertgoers — many of them children and young people — were leaving the show.
The suspect’s motives for carrying out the attack remained unknown on Wednesday morning. ISIS claimed responsibility, saying Abedi was a “soldier of the caliphate,” but offered no evidence.
Suspected bomber was lonely child
Details are slowly emerging about Abedi, who was born and raised in the United Kingdom, according to Prime Minister Theresa May, but was of Libyan descent.
Abedi had seemed like a lonely child, who kept himself to himself, according to long-time family friend Akram Ben Ramadan, a British Libyan who had known Abedi and his brother, Ismael, since the Abedis were children.
Ramadan, who had not seen Salman Abedi much in recent years, had noticed that he had begun to dress “Islamically,” in a long robe, and was growing a beard.
Members of Manchester’s Libyan community told CNN that Abedi’s father returned to Libya at the time of the revolution in 2011, while his mother stayed in England to care for the children.
She went back to Libya in the past few months, said Ramadan. There were four children in the family, including Salman Abedi — three boys and one girl.
Abedi was a student at the University of Salford — Manchester’s third largest university — where he studied business and management in the 2015-2016 academic year. He was enrolled for a second year, but hadn’t been attending classes, nor had he been active in school life, according to those who knew him.
Abedi, did not live on campus in Salford, and instead resided in south Manchester.
Forensics officers searched Salman Abedi’s home on Tuesday as they sought to establish whether he was working as part of a network.
Social media footage obtained by ITV News showed heavily armed police blowing the door off a red brick building in the Fallowfield area of south Manchester.
Images shared by residents on social media showed a massive police operation, involving around 20 heavily-armed officers, as well as numerous regular uniformed officers.
Police also searched a second address in a nearby neighborhood where one of Abedi’s brothers lived, according to family friends and neighbors who spoke to CNN. There was no information on whether anything was found.
A 23-year-old man was arrested Tuesday in connection to the attack.
Another three men were arrested in relation to Monday’s attack after officers executed warrants in south Manchester, Manchester police said Wednesday.
CNN’s Salma Abdelaziz, Jomana Karadsheh, Paul Cruickshank, Sarah Chiplin, Sean Coppack and Livvy Doherty contibuted to this report.