Officials Say Salman Abedi, Manchester Bomber, Probably Had Help

Police officers searched an apartment in Manchester on Wednesday. (Darren Staples/Reuters)

He recently dropped out of university. He had gone to Syria, a stronghold of the Islamic State. He also went to Libya to see his parents, who had moved back there after decades in Britain.

A portrait of Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old who carried out Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack since 2005, quickly began to come into focus on Wednesday as investigators raced to learn how he had carried out the attack and who might have helped him.

Mr. Abedi’s parents in Libya had become worried about his radicalization, and they had even seized the assailant’s British passport, according to a friend in Manchester, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared for his safety. Mr. Abedi had told his parents that he wanted to visit the holy Saudi city of Mecca, so they returned his passport. But instead of flying to Saudi Arabia, he returned home, the friend said.

On Monday night, Mr. Abedi set off a crude, improvised bomb as fans were leaving a pop concert by the American singer Ariana Grande. The explosion killed 22 people and wounded dozens of others; 20 were still hospitalized with serious injuries on Wednesday.

“It seems likely — possible — that he wasn’t doing this on his own,” Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, said on Wednesday.

The government decided Tuesday evening to put the country on the highest level of alert — critical, meaning that a further attack “may be imminent.”

That decision was made because the authorities were still trying to find the “factory” where the bomb was produced, and whether Mr. Abedi had help assembling the device, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy surrounding the investigation.

The same official, and members of the sizable Libyan community in Manchester, said that Mr. Abedi had traveled recently to Libya to see his parents.

In addition, a top French official, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, said on Wednesday that Mr. Abedi had traveled to Syria. It was not clear whether the visits to Libya and Syria were part of the same trip.

The police arrested three men in Manchester on Wednesday as part of their investigation, bringing to four the number of people who have been taken into custody so far. What role, if any, they may have played in the attack has not been disclosed.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Katrin Bennhold, Stephen Castle and Nour Youssef

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