The Address | Benghazi – Libya
LONDON – The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber, who is accused of helping to mastermind the terror attack, has denied any involvement, saying he was devastated that innocent people were murdered, a court has heard.
Hashem Abedi denied subscribing to extremist views and condemned his brother, Salman, saying he could not comprehend how he committed such a “devastating attack, taking not only his own life but that of 22 others and injuring many more”.
The jury were told that Abedi refused to answer police when he was questioned for the first time around a month after he was extradited from Libya to the UK last summer.
However, in a written statement the former Burnage high school pupil denied any involvement in the attack saying he had no part in its instigation or preparation.
“I was shocked my brother had done this and felt bad for everybody. I could never have envisaged that my brother had it in him to to do this to innocent people.”
Abedi, now 22, described himself as a practising Muslim who from time to time wore traditional clothing but denied subscribing to extremist views, distancing himself from the terror organisation Islamic State. However, he accepted he had asked various individuals to buy sulphuric acid, a key ingredient for explosives, on behalf of his brother.
“I asked him why he was getting it from different people and he told me it was because companies have a maximum limit they can sell,” he said.
The Manchester-born college student, who had been in Libya in the weeks leading up the blast, went on to say the past two years had been a difficult time for him after being tortured by Libyan militia. Abedi was arrested in Libya, the day after the atrocity, before being sent back to the UK to face police questions amid prosecution claims he was complicit in sourcing and stockpiling components for the bomb.
“I have been held in a very small dark cell for two years and two months. I have also been tortured. I am relieved to be back in the UK and wish to assist in this investigation as much as I can,” he added.
However, during the course of opening the trial at the Old Bailey, Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, put Abedi at centre stage of orchestrating the attack with his brother and said his connection could not be clearer in this “most monstrous of projects”.
The court has previously heard how the brothers allegedly duped friends and associates into helping to buy chemical components for the bomb, while switching vehicles and phones to ensure their actions went undetected. They used an empty house to take delivery of the chemicals ordered on Amazon, using others’ bank details and fake emails, it was alleged.
During Friday morning’s testimony the jury was also shown chilling footage of Salman’s final moments.
As soon as the suicide bomber touched down at Manchester airport he was shown methodically making the final preparations for the attack, carrying out a number of reconnaissance missions to the music venue, where he would eventually detonate his lethal home-made bomb.
On the evening of the attack he visited the arena once again, before returning to his rented city centre flat, making a number of phone calls to an unknown Libyan number and then waiting to strike.
Stills from the night showed the 22-year-old carrying a rucksack and silently watching and waiting in the City Room – an assembly point for concert-goers and their families – for an hour before eventually detonating his device.
The explosive was packed with screws and bolts for shrapnel and detonated at the exact moment when thousands of men, women and children streamed out at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at just after 10.30pm on 22 May 2017.
Moments after seeing the footage the courtroom went silent as individual pen portraits detailing the deaths of the 22 people who were murdered were read out, one by one. Nineteen of them died immediately at the scene.
As the harrowing details of mothers trying to help their dying children and others desperately trying to provide first aid were recalled, family members were comforted in the courtroom as Abedi stared straight ahead in the dock.
Abedi denies the murder of 22 people aged between eight and 51, as well as attempted murder and conspiring with his brother to cause explosions.
The trial continues.