Salmon Ramadan Abedi, 22, has been identified as the perpetrator of a suicide bombing that killed 22 persons and injured 100 more at the Manchester Arena on Monday night. It was nearly the end of a concert by American pop-singer Ariana Grande when concert-goers heard an explosion that occurred in the foyer of the concert venue. Abedi is believed to have detonated an improvised explosive device that spewed shrapnel, causing severe wounds and death.
 

Abedi's family were Libyan refugees

 
Officials theorize that Abedi intended to detonate the device at the closing of the concert while fans were exiting the building in order to maximize its impact just at the outside of the security perimeter. He is believed to have traveled from London to Manchester via the Tube to Victoria Station. However, his residence is reportedly in a neighborhood just two miles from downtown Manchester and the arena.
 
On a visit to Manchester, Prime Minister Theresa May said the attacker tried to “maximize carnage and to kill and injure indiscriminately.” Nails, nuts and bolts found at the scene are consistent with a theory that Abedi used a nail bomb. Ball bearings have also been found. Officials have seen the bomber in CCTV footage.
 
Abedi was already known to British authorities. There are reports that his parents were refugees from Libya. Few other details about him have been released. 
 
There were reports early on that there were multiple explosions or gunshots. However, witnesses have claimed to have heard only one explosion. Ariana Grande’s team had handed out large pink balloons as part of the concert closing, and popping balloons were possibly mistaken for gunshots.
 
“There were just a loud bang and a flash and everyone tried to scramble out. An alarm came on telling everyone to stay calm but leave as quickly as possible,” Jade Baynes, 18, of Hull, told The Guardian. Another witness, Oliver Jones, also gave a description to The Guardian of what he witnessed:
 
“I was in the toilet and heard a loud bang just after the concert had finished and people had started to leave. The bang echoed around the foyer of the arena and people started to run. I seen people running and screaming towards one direction and then many were turning around to run back the other way. Security was running out as well as the fans and concert goers. Reports of blood and people injured. In so much shock and panic. You see this on the news all the time and never expect it to happen to you. I just had to run and make sure me and my sister were safe.”
 
Ariana Grande and her crew were not injured by the explosion. “We mourn the lives of children and loved ones taken by this cowardly act,” her manager, Scooter Braun, said in a statement. “We ask all of you to hold the victims, their families, and all those affected in your hearts and prayers.”
 
Witnesses described the aftermath of the bombing and ensuing panic. “We’ve had a few people in with panic attacks and in all kinds of disarray. We’ve got four girls here – trying to get them sorted to get picked up. There was a gentleman on the floor with his leg all bleeding and woman with blood down one side of her face,” tyler, a bartender at the Steven Charles Snooker Club, told The Guardian. “We felt something but didn’t know what it was – there was a sound like thunder. One girl had a panic attack and another had streaming tears, a woman had a heart attack just outside.”
 
Police have asked the public to stay away from the Manchester city center. Victoria Station remains closed. Officials are asking the public to share any video or photos that might help them in the investigation.
 
“We are currently treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise. We are working closely with the national counter terrorism policing network and UK intelligence partners,” Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said in a statement. “This is clearly a concerning time for people but we are doing all we can working with local and national agencies to support those affected and gather information about what has happened tonight. As you will understand we are still receiving information and updates so will provide more details when we have a clearer picture.”
 
Hopkins added,” I want to thank people for their support and would ask them to remain vigilant and if they have any concerns report them in confidence to us on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321. It is important people avoid the area so that we can effectively deal with the incident.”
 

Arrests and raids

 
Police carried out raids in and around Manchester on Tuesday, arresting a 23-year-old man n South Manchester in connection with the attack. He has not yet been identified and his role in the plot is not yet known. The man was arrested near an address where Abedi’s family previously lived, and there is speculation Ismael Abedi was that man. The incident occurred just days after a a number of arrests in Britain. Last week, four men were arrested in London on “suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.” Metropolitan Police said, ” These arrests were pre-planned as part of an ongoing investigation by the Met’s counter-terrorism command and MI5. The arrests are linked to activity in the UK.” Police also carried out raids in late April, leading to arrests that they say disrupted two separate attack plots.
 
The Islamic State (ISIS) dubbed Abedi a “soldier,” while its supporters have celebrated the attack. ISIS officially claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq News Agency, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
 
“With Allah’s grace and support, a soldier of Khilafah managed to place explosive devices in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion, in an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims,” the statement said. “The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission. And all praises is due to Allah, Lord of the creation.”
 

Soldier of the Caliphate, Scourge of infidels

 
The statement called him a soldier of the Khalifah, or caliphate. It also says the attack was meant to terrorize the “mushirkin,” which means pagans or those who worship a false god.
 
A video posted to Twitter claims to show the moment the explosion occurred. The footage was recorded by a dashboard camera. After a few seconds a bright light can be seen near the building and a loud blast can be heard.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May, called the attack “callous” and “cowardly.” May said, “It is now beyond doubt that the people of Manchester and of this country have fallen victim to a callous terrorist attack – an attack that targeted some of the youngest people in our society with cold calculation.We struggle to comprehend the warped and twisted mind that sees a room packed with young children not a scene to cherish but as an opportunity for carnage.”
 
In a statement, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said it is “our darkest of nights.”
 
President Donald Trump spoke while on a trip to Israel, saying, “So many young, beautiful, innocent people living and enjoying their lives murdered by evil losers in life. I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term, they would think that’s a great name. I will call them losers because that’s what they are. They’re losers. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers, just remember that.”
 
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Monday night there is no specific credible threat to U.S. arenas or concert venues.
 
“We are working with our foreign counterparts to obtain additional information about the cause of the reported explosion as well as the extent of injuries and fatalities,” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Monday night. “U.S. citizens in the area should heed direction from local authorities and maintain security awareness. We encourage any affected U.S. citizens who need assistance to contact the U.S. Embassy in London and follow Department of State guidance.”
 
DHS also said it is ready to help its British counterparts. 


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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