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Manchester Attack: Members of Bomber’s Mosque Talk to Rolling Stone

“It’s clear he was radicalized, but how … remains unclear,” says Didsbury Mosque member who knew Salman Abedi

Didsbury Mosque in Manchester

Salman Abedi, 'loner' turned killer in the Manchester bombings, worshipped with his family at the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

After Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old British man of Libyan descent, was identified as the Manchester Arena bomber, members of the mosque that the Abedi family attended spoke to Rolling Stone, saying they are “saddened” and “horrified” at the deadly attack carried out by one of their members.

The blast occurred on Monday, May 22nd around 10:30 p.m. after Ariana Grande ended her concert with an encore of “Dangerous Woman” and a shower of pink balloons. The bomb went off in the outside foyer of the venue, near the main exit. The explosion killed 22 concert-goers, many of them children, and sent over a hundred others to the hospital, making it the deadliest such attack in the country since 2005. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, according to The New York Times

On Wednesday morning, police arrested three men in south Manchester in connection with the attack, Bloomberg reports. Police previously arrested a 23-year-old man, believed to be the bomber’s brother, on Tuesday morning.

The family of Salman Abedi, the bomber, worshipped at the Didsbury Mosque in Manchester, where the dad of the pair of brothers – named as “Abu Ismael” in the mosque – is a “well-respected man” of the congregation.

The dad, who worked as a handyman around Manchester picking up work where he can, has been described as “hard working and dedicated to Islam” by fellow worshippers, who have hit back at claims the family was somehow involved.

“He didn’t seem to like bad words being said about ISIS. It is clear he was radicalized, but how, when he came from a respectable father, remains unclear.” – Didsbury Mosque member who knew Abedi 

One member, who refused to be named for fear of reprisals, told Rolling Stone: “I do not have a clue where the reports would come from, the brothers were troubled, yes, but the dad? Never. He hated ISIS and all it stood for. He regularly spoke of his hatred at what these murderers were doing to a religion that he loves so much. He follows Islam by the law of the Quran – and he does not believe that these ‘soldiers’ are doing anything in the name of Islam.”

The Muslim man, who says he has known the family for the last three years, said he now was living in fear that there would be retribution attacks on Muslims in the Manchester community. Arsonists have already targeted a mosque just miles away from the MEN Arena, the scene of the devastating terror attack.

In the aftermath of the bombing, Abedi’s neighbors who prefer to remain anonymous, described the young man as a “loner” who “turned weird,” to Rolling Stone. They also said that he seemed obsessed with the Quran (his mother taught the Quran and was away for an extended period of time recently). Abedi’s parents emigrated to the outskirts of Manchester form Libya after fleeing the Gaddafi regime. One neighbor said it was believed Abedi’s brother was the 23-year-old man arrested by police in connection with the concert bombing. 

“Only now do you look back and think there was something seriously wrong. I don’t believe that Salman did this on his own” – Neighbor to Abedi family

“It has been weird and we’ve all commented on how things have changed down our road,” one neighbor told Rolling Stone. “[Abedi] was seen carrying his Quran everywhere, whenever he left the house, which wasn’t overly often recently.”

“He could be heard chanting loudly at home and would talk to himself as he walked down the street,” said another neighbor. “He wouldn’t reply if you said hello.”

“The entire family have been keeping themselves to themselves and only now do you look back and think there was something seriously wrong. I don’t believe that Salman did this on his own,” said another local. Police have raided the home and a small explosion was carried out on the premises. Officers were seen carrying paraphernalia from the home including a book titled Know Your Chemicals.

Mohammed Saddiq, imam of the Jamia Qasmia Zahida Islamic Centre, says his mosque was targeted at 2 a.m. in the same night of the bombing. According to Saddiq, police seized CCTV for the attack, which damaged the front door, with officers looking into whether the arson attack was in retaliation. It is still not clear whether the two incidents are connected.

The insider at Didsbury Mosque says he fears more attacks are on the way. “I do think the brothers were working together. Salman was known to our congregation to have clashed with our imam who had denounced ISIS’s work. Our imam said he felt a ‘hatred’ from Salman after he preached against the terror cell in a prayer meet.

“He didn’t seem to like bad words being said about ISIS. It is clear he was radicalized, but how, when he came from a respectable father, remains unclear.”

Salman Abedi allegedly returned home from Libya just days before carrying out the horror attack, according to local sources. His mother, a Quran teacher, was also allegedly on an extended trip out of the country. Police are investigating whether Abedi received “secret training” on an excursion. 

The British government’s terror threat level is at its highest (“critical”) in a decade. Accordingly, Houses of Parliament have canceled all tours, the Bank of England’s museum is closed, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace was canceled. Prime Minister May deployed military to aid armed police at music and sports events. Campaigning for the June 8th general election is also suspended. 

Watch neighbors of Salman Abedi react to arrests made near Abedi’s home.

In This Article: Manchester Bombing

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