Manchester Bomber, Salman Abedi, Is Thought to Have Traveled to Syria
MANCHESTER, England — Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old man who carried out Britain’s worst terrorist attack since 2005, is believed to have traveled to Syria, the French interior minister announced on Wednesday.
The interior minister, Gérard Collomb, told BFMTV that French and British intelligence had information that Mr. Abedi had traveled to Syria and that he had “proven” ties to the Islamic State.
“Today, we know only what British investigators have told us,” Mr. Collomb said. “A British citizen of Libyan descent, but who grew up in Great Britain, and suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then probably to Syria, is radicalized and decides to carry out this attack.”
Mr. Collomb did not provide further details or specify whether Mr. Abedi was part of a larger network of extremists.
The British authorities have identified Mr. Abedi as the man who set off a homemade bomb in the foyer of Manchester Arena on Monday evening after a pop concert by the American singer Ariana Grande. The attack killed 22 people and wounded 59 others; the Islamic State claimed responsibility but has not described Mr. Abedi’s links to the network. In several past terrorist assaults, extremists traveled to Syria from Europe for indoctrination and training.
Born in 1994, Mr. Abedi was one of four children and a child of Libyan emigrants to Britain. He lived with his family in the Fallowfield section of Manchester, about 3.5 miles south of the arena. He was a student at Salford University.
Fears that Mr. Abedi might have had accomplices contributed to the British government’s decision on Tuesday evening to put the country on the highest level of alert — “critical,” meaning that a further attack “may be imminent.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Collomb’s counterpart in Britain, Home Secretary Amber Rudd, said that Mr. Abedi was known to the British intelligence services and to the police, “up to a point.” But she, too, declined to provide additional details about Mr. Abedi.
Mr. Collomb, who spoke with Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain after the attack, said that their two countries should continue cooperating closely on counterterrorism efforts despite Britain’s plans to leave the European Union, most likely in 2019.
France remains under a state of emergency since a series of Islamic State attacks in November 2015, and its new president, Emmanuel Macron, said on Wednesday that he would ask for the state of emergency to be extended.
In London, the heightened state of alert was visible in prominent locations. The military said it would provide armed guards at Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Parliament and embassies. Unlike in France, however, prosecutors have not been granted additional powers to arrest and hold suspects.