Ramadan Abedi, also known by Abu Ismail, is claiming his son is innocent in the May 22 bombing of Manchester Arena that left 22 people dead and hundreds more injured.
The 51-year-old father from Libya, who has since been detained by authorities, has gone on record saying that his son, Salman Abedi, would never do such a thing and that he was prepping for a Muslim pilgrimage in recent weeks. His two other sons, Ismail and Hashim, were arrested May 23 by British authorities as they continued their investigation into the terrorist attack.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ramadan Has Reportedly Been Detained In Libya
Reports that surfaced May 24 said that Abedi’s father was “detained by masked gunmen” while giving a live TV interview in Libya. The report said that he had been taken to an “unknown location.”
However, a later report by Reuters said that he was arrested outside of his home in Ayn Zara, a suburb of Tripoli. Witnesses told the news outlet that he was handcuffed by armed men and was driven away in unmarked cars.
Special Deterrent force spokesman Ahmed bin Salem later confirmed to The Associated Press that the father was detained in Tripoli for “interrogations.”
2. His Son Reportedly Admitted to Plotting a Terror Attack In Tripoli
The father’s arrest comes shortly after another one of his sons, Hashim (born in 1997), was taken into custody by Rada, a Libyan counter-terrorism force. He was arrested on suspicion of possible links to the Islamic State and his role in planned attacks in the country.
A government spokesperson that the brother was a suspect in a plot to carry out a terror attack in Tripoli and had been under surveillance by Rada for some time.
“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh (Islamic State) with his brother,” spokesperson Ahmed Bin Salem told Reuters. “We have been following him for more than one month and a half. He was in contact with his brother and he knew about the attack.”
3. The Father Has Reportedly Claimed His Son is Innocent
In a report by Maggie Michael of the Associated Press, Ramadan claimed that his son is innocent in the investigation of the Manchester terror attack. He told the news outlet that his son was in the middle of “preparing to go on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia” around the time of the attack.
“We don’t believe in killing innocents. This is not us,” he said to the AP via phone. “We aren’t the ones who blow up ourselves among innocents. We go to mosques. We recite Quran, but not that.”
Ramadan said that he spoke to Salman not long before the attack. He was back in Libya for a number of weeks before heading back to the U.K. just a few days prior to the attack.
“Last time I spoke to (Salman), he sounded normal,” he said in the AP report. “There was nothing worrying at all until two days ago (when) I heard the news that they suspect he was the bomber.”
Salman was reportedly “getting ready for a trip” to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca performed by Muslims.
4. The Abedi Family Sought Asylum In Britain
In the 1990s, Ramadan worked as a security officer in Libya under Moammar Gadhafi‘s dictatorship. But he was accused of tipping off Islamists before police raids and fled to Saudi Arabia in 1993. He spent less than one year in the country before packing up and fleeing to the U.K. He and his family sought political asylum and resided there for about 25 years.
In 2011, the father returned to Libya after the uprising, overthrow and death of Gadhafi.
Nowadays, the family resides in a Tripoli suburb. Ramadan is continuing his past work as a security officer, as he was appointed to work as an administrative manager for the Tripoli Central Security forces. The group helps patrol Tripoli and ensure safety to its residents.
5. Ramadan Has Denied Any Ties to Militant Groups
The father heavily denied any ties to militant groups in Libya, even though his sons appear to have links. That includes the Libya Islamic Fighting Group, which has direct links to al-Qaida. The group participated in the country’s civil war in 2011 and continue to be involved in the Civil War of 2014 as members of the Libya Shield Force.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, the group was banned worldwide by the United Nations and it’s listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It’s since disbanded.
Despite the denial that the Abedi family has ties to the Libyan Islamic Fighting group, a former security official told the AP in its report that the father was in fact a member of the group during the 1990s.
Abdel-Basit Haroun told the news outlet that Abedi’s father now belongs to the Salafi Jihadi movement. It’s considered the “most extreme sect of Salafism” and has direct links to terrorism and the Islamic State.