Current and former intelligence officials have stated that Salman Abedi, the Manchester terrorist who killed 22 people at a concert in England, met with Islamic State (ISIS) members in Libya.
It’s unclear what sort of communication occurred between Abedi and the ISIS unit Katibat al-Battar al-Libi, which also happened to be linked to the devastating November 2015 terror attack in Paris, The New York Times reports.
The Battar unit was formerly located in Syria, but several of the fighters relocated to Libya, as Libya is the country from where they originally hailed. However, the unit expanded far beyond Libyan fighters and attracted the attention of foreign militants from France and Belgium
Abedi established contact with the Battar unit while in Tripoli and Sabratha, a retired intelligence chief told The New York Times. Abedi maintained this contact, even as he returned back to Manchester, although he employed some security precautions, such as using disposable phones or receiving the messages indirectly from another friend in Germany or Belgium.
ISIS began focusing on developing operations in Libya beginning in early 2015, and the headquarters subsequently established in Surt became the group’s top outpost apart from Iraq and Syria.
However, since 2015, ISIS in Libya has been reduced to a mere shadow of its former self, although the group is by no means eliminated in the region.
Shortly after Abedi committed the terrorist attack in Manchester using a suitcase bomb, ISIS claimed responsibility, calling him a “soldier of the caliphate.”
MI5 is in the middle of conducting an investigation to determine why it ignored at least three warnings of Abedi’s radicalization.
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