Home / World / Manchester attack: final suspects may have slipped net and fled city, security officials fear – The Independent

Manchester attack: final suspects may have slipped net and fled city, security officials fear – The Independent

Members of the terrorist network which carried out the Manchester atrocity may have fled to elsewhere in Britain and could have access to bomb-making material, according to security sources. Smaller towns which may not have a large armed police presence are places of particular concern.

The police and security agencies had attempted, with a large measure of success, to uncover the cell which helped Salman Abedi carry out the mass murder. Nine suspects remain in custody after a series of raids in North-West England and evidence, including components of explosive devices, have been recovered.

But the apprehension that a few of Abedi’s accomplices have managed to escape the net and may attempt to strike in another part of the country lies behind the deployment of troops across the country. The threat level being kept at its highest classification, critical, and members of the SAS being used to carry out raids in case of resistance using firearms. Special operational measures are in place to take action if necessary away from large metropolitan centres, as was seen in the arrest of one of a suspect at Nuneaton, in Warwickshire.

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A senior counter-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, stated that the police have “got hold of a large part” of the terror network. Security has been reviewed at 1,300 events across the country, he said, and urged the public to “go out as you planned and enjoy yourself” over the Bank Holiday weekend.

But, Mr Rowley added that there still “important” lines of inquiry to pursue, more arrests were likely, and acknowledged that security status needs to remain at critical, for possibly as long as few more weeks.

The Independent revealed two days ago that a quantity of bomb-making material, including explosives, known to have been in possession of 22-year-old Abedi, of Libyan background, and others in the group is missing and not all of it has been found despite extensive searches.

The Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, Ian Hopkins, said: “It has been an extremely challenging week, and we are still in the middle of the investigation. We have seized thousands of exhibits which are now being assessed. I think it is fair to say there have been enormous progress with the investigation, but there is still an awful lot of work to do”.

One of the raids today took place at a barber shop in Moss Side which is believed to be owned by a cousin of Abedi, believed to be called Abdallah Forjani. A 38-year-old man who rented a flat to Abedi in the Blackley area is being held.

Abedi left the flat in March to travel to Libya. His father, Ramadan Abedi, also known as Abu-Ismail al-Obedei, is a former member of the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group ( LIFG) an extremist organisation which was banned by the UN for its links to al-Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks in New York. Ramadan Abedi and a son, Hashem, 20, have been arrested in Tripoli by a militia affiliated to the country’s UN backed government. Another son, Ismail, 24, was arrested and remains in custody in England.

Manchester explosion in pictures

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Manchester explosion in pictures

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    People running down stairs as they attempt to exit the Manchester Arena after a blast, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester

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    Helpers attend to people inside the Manchester Arena after a suspected suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people

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    Armed officers guard outside a hotel near the Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion, in Manchester, Britain

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    Police officers are seen outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England

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    Police and fans close to the Manchester Arena, after reports of an explosion

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    There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed

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    Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England, at a concert in Manchester Arena

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    Police stand by a cordoned off street close to the Manchester Arena

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    Police deploy at scene of explosion in Manchester, England

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    Police deploy at scene of a reported explosion during a concert in Manchester, England, on May 23, 2017. British police said early May 23 there were "a number of confirmed fatalities" after reports of at least one explosion during a pop concert by US singer Ariana Grande. Ambulances were seen rushing to the Manchester Arena venue and police added in a statement that people should avoid the area

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    An ambulance drives away from the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester

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    Police escort members of the public from the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

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    A woman sits in the street in a blanket near the Manchester Arena as police guard the area following reports of an explosion, in Manchester, Britain

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    Two women wrapped in thermal blankets stand near the Manchester Arena, where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester

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    A Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) bomb disposal robot is unloaded outside the Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion, in Manchester. At least 19 people have been confirmed dead and others 50 were injured, authorities said. It is being treated as a terrorist incident until police know otherwise

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    A Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) bomb disposal robot is unloaded outside the Manchester Arena following reports of an explosion, in Manchester

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    Members of the public receive treatment from emergency service staff at Victoria Railway Station close to the Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. There have been reports of explosions at Manchester Arena where Ariana Grande had performed this evening. Greater Manchester Police have have confirmed there are fatalities and warned people to stay away from the area

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    Armed police after a suspected terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 19 dead

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    Emergency services arrive close to the Manchester Arena in Manchester

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    An amoured police vehicle patrols near Manchester Arena in Manchester

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    A man carries a young girl on his shoulders near Victoria station in Manchester

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    Police officers stand at the Miller Street and Corporation Street Crossroads, in front of the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England

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    Police block a road near to the Manchester Arena in central Manchester, England

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    Armed police patrol near Victoria station in Manchester, northwest England. Twenty two people have been killed and dozens injured after a suspected suicide bomber targeted fans leaving a concert of US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester

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    Police forensic officers leave the Manchester Arena as they investigate the scene of an explosion in Manchester

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    A forensic officer collects evidence on a walkway between Victoria station and Manchester Arena following a deadly terror attack in Manchester,

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    A woman and a young girl wearing a t-shirt of US singer Ariana Grande talks to police near Manchester Arena following a deadly terror attack in Manchester,

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    Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese speak to the media outside Manchester Town Hall after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester

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    The media gather behind a police cordon in Manchester

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    Flowers left close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester

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    Ariana Grande concert attendees Karen Moore and her daughter Molly Steed, aged 14, from Derby, leave the Park Inn where they were given refuge after last night's explosion at Manchester Arena

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    Signs saying 'We love Manchester' are displayed in a window in Manchester, England

The security agencies are investigating whether Salman Abedi was indoctrinated during various visits to Libya. However there are suggestions that he had become radicalised in Manchester over a prolonged period. A mosque in Didsbury where Ramadan Abedi used to lead the call to prayers and Salman Abedi attended, has become a focus of attention.

Members of the mosque’s congregation and its trustees have denied any extremist link and have condemned the Manchester attack. But there is evidence that hardline Islamists, including members of militia in Libya, have attended the mosque. A speaker featured on the mosque's official YouTube channel “described martyrdom as virtuous”.

There had been suggestions that Salman Abedi had also travelled to Syria. The French foreign minister, Gerard Collomb, claimed that the British security agencies believe he went on to Syria from Libya. But a senior security source said: “We think he got a few things garbled there, we know that Abedi had gone to Libya, whether he went to Syria or not remains a line of inquiry.”

Abedi had travelled from Tripoli, where he was visiting his parents, to Istanbul, from there to Dusseldorf and then back to the UK before he carried out his attack. Turkish security sources said there is no evidence that he had crossed from Turkey into Syria and all the indications were that he did not leave the airport either in Turkey or Germany.

  • More about:
  • Manchester attack
  • Manchester Arena
  • Salman Abedi
  • Counter-terrorism

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