The past of the man who killed twenty-two people indiscriminately with bomb and gun and maimed another 139 others, half of them children, at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on 22 May 2017 before blowing himself up is certainly unfolding publicly in a way that we can only imagine the British state would rather it didn’t.
Salman Abedi was born in 1994 and raised in Manchester, the second-youngest of four children of Libyan asylum seekers, Samia Tabbal and Ramadan Abedi, who returned to Libya after the imperialist-sponsored counter-revolution had murdered Libya’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in 2011.
It is now thought that when Abedi’s parents and two of their children (younger brother Hashim and sister Jomana) returned to Libya, leaving Salman and his older brother Ismail behind, they didn’t seem to have any problems with the local jihadi militants (ie, crazed fundamentalists) who had come to power. This suggests that they either kept their heads down very successfully, or that they fitted it perfectly well with whichever faction was running the area to which they had moved.
They would certainly have been involved in political and/or religious subversive activity against Colonel Gaddafi’s government when they originally lived in Libya to necessitate their having to run to Britain asking for asylum in the first place, and it must therefore be assumed that they probably enjoyed, from those unsavoury forces and factions that French and British imperialism had trained and funded to overthrow the legitimate Gaddafi government, a real ‘heroes return’.
Some of those who had known Salman Abedi in his teens talk of a normal boy, albeit one who was deeply religious. Yet Sheikh Mohammad Saeed, the imam at the Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as the Didsbury mosque, described Abedi as having made a “face of hate” at him after he gave a sermon denouncing terrorism.
One neighbour, 21-year-old Lina Ahmed, who lived very close to Salman in Elsmore Road, said: “They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he (Salman) was chanting the first kalma really loudly in the street … saying: ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger.’”
French interior minister Gerard Collomb has told French television that both British and French intelligence services had information that Abedi had been in Syria and that he had links with Islamic State (IS), adding: “all of a sudden he travelled to Libya and then most likely to Syria, became radicalised and decided to commit this attack”.
Collomb is asking us to accept that Salman underwent an extraordinarily rapid radicalisation, when in fact he is known to have travelled to both Libya and Syria on several occasions and had been on a British security watch list, from which he was removed in 2014.
Shortly after that, as the uneasy situation existing between the various factions of imperialist-sponsored rats now in control of Libya descended into open warfare, the UN decided on a quick exit from the country. As a result, border force officials were deployed to assist with the evacuation of British nationals and their dependants.
HMS Enterprise, a Royal Navy ship, was sent to Tripoli with a list of British nationals to be picked up. Both Salman Abedi and his younger brother Hashim were on the list, with around 100 other British citizens. After a brief stop in Malta, the two Abedi brothers were brought back to Britain.
Nevertheless, Salman continued to travel back and forth between Britain, Libya and Syria until just one month before he carried out the Manchester Arena bombing.
Salman’s younger brother, Hashim, who didn’t return to Britain with Salman after their last trip to Libya, is currently held by one of the militias in Libya as they try to assess his own connections with Islamic State, but he has openly declared to them (they say) that he shared his brother’s ideology.
BBC2 have spoken to the group holding Hashim and were told that he had said that he knew something big was to happen in Manchester, and that, when he saw the attack on the internet, he bragged, even before the bomber was named, that he knew that it had been carried out by his brother.
At the moment, the British media are reporting these revelations from an angle of blaming the security services for ‘blunders’ in not capturing Salman before he attacked, and for allowing all the other British jihadis who flowed to Libya and Syria to come back to Britain, with a large sideswipe at all immigrants for good measure.
But, if we look at the situation from another angle – ie, that if Britain and France had not trained and funded the IS groups to destabilise and topple sovereign states in the rush to pilfer the region’s oil and stop various projects aimed at building up resistance to imperialism’s wars of brigandage; if our rulers had not made it so easy for young muslims to be radicalised and to get to Libya and Syria so freely; if British and French imperialism, with more than a nod from US imperialism, had not been the reason for the mass carnage that followed the invasions of both those states (in the name of humanitarianism, of course) – then we can see that the ‘holy warriors’ of Islamic State et al would not now be targeting the people living in Britain, France and the USA.
If the British people were to take a sober look at the current fear level and security regime under which they are now forced to live, they may start appropriately to blame British imperialism for every terrorist atrocity that has befallen them. They may start to see the likes of ex-premiers Cameron, Brown and Blair as the war criminals that they are, and to understand that the schemes and projects of imperialism are never in the interests of workers.