March 26, 2020 Faith Matters

Made in Manchester: Brothers join list of terrorists who lived in south of city

A small area of south Manchester has been home to more than 20 terrorists and terror suspects all within a three-mile radius of Salman Abedi’s home.

In recent years, at least 24 people have been tracked by the PA news agency living close to the neighbourhood in Fallowfield the Abedis called home.

They have included at least two other suicide bombers, a leading IS recruiter and twin “poster girls” for the jihadi cause.

Before that, al Qaida commander Anas al-Libi lived in south Manchester.

Salman Abedi, born, raised and educated in the city, left school with few qualifications, had poor English and his only educational achievements were studying Arabic.

He joined the same violent few from an area centred around Moss Side and Whalley Range that has seen a now well-worn path to radicalisation.

Abedi’s own family came to the UK in 1992 from Libya, among the 430% increase since 1991 in people of African origin living in Manchester, according to figures from the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at Manchester University.

On the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Chief Constable Ian Hopkins maintained radicalisation was a national problem, not one specific to Manchester.

He told PA that people being drawn into extremism was a problem the whole of the UK must face.

Just 18 months before the bombing, a report titled Rethinking Radicalisation was commissioned by Manchester City Council to “assess the current state of community relations and radicalisation in Manchester”.

It noted widespread criticism of the Government’s deradicalisation programme titled Prevent.

Another persistent theme in the report was the issue of radicalisation, which was “undeniable” in Manchester, according to some youngsters cited by the report, with particular concern over extremism among teenagers and young adults.

The report also spoke of “parallel communities” living side by side but barely integrating.

After the arena bombing, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham commissioned a report, A Shared Future, on tackling extremism and promoting social cohesion.

It concluded radicalisation had no single driver with no single solution and repeated the fears of persecution amongst Muslims of the Prevent counter-terrorism strategy.

It also noted a 130% increase in hate crimes and 500% increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in the weeks following the bombing.

In October last year, Manchester’s myriad of counter-extremism initiatives and projects were joined in the city by Coin, the Cohesion and Integration Network, a new national charity to strengthen good community relations.

In the same month, GCHQ, an intelligence and security organisation working with MI5 and MI6, also announced it would open offices in the city.

At the Old Bailey trial of Hashem Abedi, one witness from the Midlands described how the defendant asked him to buy acid, which can be used to manufacture explosives.

He was warned not to do it.

When he asked why, his father told him because Hashem was “from Manchester”.