20th Century Libyan Jihadism’s Role in Manchester Attack
In an article for Al Monitor, Jason Pack and Lydia Jabs discuss the role that suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s connection to, and his family’s long history within, Libya’s tight-knit activist Salafi movements may have had on radicalizing Abedi and facilitating last week’s attack in Manchester.
Abedi’s radicalization and his execution of the attack was likely facilitated by others in his community, and in Libya, even if he did not completely confide his intentions to his companions. The southern Manchester area where he resided has produced known IS operatives and recruiters, some of whom lived less than a mile from the Abedi brothers — attending the same local Didsbury Mosque, where Abedi’s father used to occasionally lead prayers. In particular, security sources are investigating Abedi’s relationship with two IS recruiters, Amir Khalil Raoufi and Raphael Hostay, both killed in Syria in the past three years and hailing from the same neighborhood.
Since the arena bombing, another male from the neighborhood has been arrested. German intelligence revealed that Abedi passed through known hot spots of extremism, Dusseldorf and Frankfurt, twice since 2014 and may have traveled to Syria, where it is alleged that he received paramilitary training. Proof of Abedi’s ties to an international IS network entrenched within Libya and the UK and with a history of connections to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan demonstrate that IS emerged from the seeds planted by previous waves of jihadi movements. IS is not a new phenomenon; it merely reconnects existing jihadi networks in a new way. This is crucial to remember as despite recent military setbacks for IS in the Levant and in the Libyan city of Sirte, the movement is able to fall back upon its base — pre-existing jihadi networks.
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