The Daily Mail: the suicide bomber who killed 22 people during Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena in 2017 was rescued by the Navy from war-torn Libya three years before his pop concert atrocity, the Mail reveals today.
HMS Enterprise plucked Salman Abedi, then 19, from the Libyan coast and took him to Malta for a flight home to Britain in August 2014.
Last May he set off a bomb in Manchester Arena that killed 22, including seven children. Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, who is in jail in Tripoli facing trial over the attack, was also rescued by HMS Enterprise.
At the time, the Foreign Office had told any remaining UK nationals to leave the country immediately because of worsening violence, including battles that forced the closure of Libya’s main airport in Tripoli.
Back in 2014, as The Guardian reports British nationals stranded in Libya amid fierce fighting have been evacuated from Tripoli by a Royal Navy ship taking them to safety in Malta. The Ministry of Defence said that HMS Enterprise, a survey ship on a routine deployment in the Mediterranean, was diverted to waters off the Libyan capital to collect an unspecified number of British nationals. The evacuees, believed to number around 100, were taken to HMS Enterprise in smaller boats. The operation was launched after the Foreign Office announced it was temporarily closing its embassy and other consular operations in Libya following increasingly brutal battles between various militia groups fighting for control of Tripoli’s airport, which saw 22 people killed on Saturday.
The pair had been caught up in fighting in Libya and were among more than 100 British citizens taken to safety. Photographs released by Ministry of Defence officials at the time showed the group being brought on board the Navy vessel.
Abedi was not considered to be a security threat at the time. The border force was sent to assist the evacuation of British citizens ant their dependants known to be in the area at the time.
A Whitehall source said: ‘For this man to have committed such an atrocity on UK soil after we rescued him from Libya was an act of utter betrayal.’
The revelation will enrage families who lost loved ones in Abedi’s despicable attack. It is also likely to raise fresh fears over possible intelligence failures.
A report by MPs found David Cameron “ultimately responsible” for Libya’s bloody collapse because of his flawed intervention to help overthrow Gaddafi, when the UK was among countries conducting a bombing campaign.
The Foreign Affairs Select Committee said a lack of strategy for the ensuing power vacuum or reconstruction efforts caused “political and economic collapse”.
It allowed endless bloodshed in Libya, as well as the rise of Islamist extremist groups and the spread of regime weapons used to spark the Malian civil war and in conflicts elsewhere.