Manchester Arena bomber’s brother admits involvement in terror attack for first time

Hashem Abedi denied helping his brother prepare bombing at his own murder trial and delayed public inquiry

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
Monday 07 December 2020 19:38
Manchester Arena bomber’s brother found guilty of plot that killed 22
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The Manchester Arena bomber’s brother has admitted his part in preparing for the terror attack for the first time, an inquiry has heard.

Hashem Abedi had previously denied knowing of his brother Salman’s plans, or involvement in the blast that killed 22 victims in May 2017.

He pleaded not guilty at his murder trial and was jailed for life in August after a trial that delayed a public inquiry into the attack, adding further distress to the victims’ families.

But on Monday, the inquiry heard that he admitted he played a “full part” in the planning of the attack during an interview conducted in prison.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said members of the inquiry’s legal team visited Hashem in jail on 22 October.

He added: “During the course of that interview, Hashem Abedi admitted that he had played a full part, and a knowing part, in the planning and preparation for the arena attack.”

In August, he was convicted of murdering the 22 victims after prosecutors said he was “just as responsible” as his suicide bomber brother.

The 23-year-old dropped out of his trial and fired his legal team, then refused to attend his sentencing hearing at London’s Old Bailey.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker gave Hashem a minimum term of 55 years because the law did not allow him to pass a whole-life order, because of Abedi’s age at the time of the attack.

The judge said the brothers chose to target an Ariana Grande concert together, and “it was their intention to specifically target” young fans, including children.

Hashem Abedi helped source chemicals and parts for his brother’s bomb but travelled to Libya before it was detonated 

Hashem had travelled to Libya before the bombing and was extradited to the UK after being detained by local security forces.

The inquiry heard that he refused to answer police questions, and that a prepared statement denied any involvement in the terror attack, knowledge of his brother’s plans or holding extremist beliefs.

Hashem claimed he was “shocked” when his brother blew himself up and “felt bad for everybody”.

At his trial, prosecutors said he was “at times chauffeur, at times quartermaster, at times electrical technician” in the plot.

Police believe he took the final call his brother made before blowing himself up, which was to the family’s Libyan home shortly before the bombing.

Hashem's fingerprints were found in a car and properties that were used to store explosive chemicals, as well as on shrapnel from the blast.

In total, 264 people were injured and 710 survivors have reported suffering from psychological trauma.

Isis claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was the second and deadliest terror attack in Britain in 2017, following the Westminster Bridge attack in March. 

Figen Murray, mother of bombing victim Martyn Hett, 29, said: “Thinking back to that courtroom in August, it would have been more bearable for all of us if he told the truth then.

“We wanted to put that chapter behind us but focus our energies on the inquiry which continues to be a gruelling and long process.”

Ms Murray said victims’ relatives had to “relive the pain and heartbreak” of the attack time and again, and were hoping they would be able to rebuild their lives with a “sense of justice”.

The public inquiry continues.

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