Police in Manchester, England, believe the man who set off a deadly explosive outside an Ariana Grande concert on Monday was part of a terrorist network

By Steve Helling and Simon Perry
May 24, 2017 04:17 PM

The father and younger brother of the suspect in the suicide bombing that killed 22 people in Manchester, England, have been arrested in Libya, according to multiple reports.

Reuters reports that Ramadan Abedi, the father of suspect Salman Abedi, was detained outside his home in Ayn Zara, a suburb of the Libyan capital city of Tripoli.

Prior to his arrest, Ramadan Abedi had said in an interview with the Associated Press that he didn’t believe his son was involved in the attack.

“We don’t believe in killing innocents,” he told the AP. “This is not us.”

The New York Times reports that the suspect’s younger brother, Hashem Abedi, 20, was detained.

The Times reports that in a Facebook post written in Arabic, the Special Deterrence Forces, a Libyan militia, alleged Hashem Abedi was a member of the Islamic state who had been involved with the Manchester plot.

According to the Facebook post, Hashem Abedi traveled from Britain to Libya on April 16 and had been in daily phone contact with Salman Abedi ever since then. The post also alleged Hashem Abedi was planning an attack in Libya.

The Associated Press reports that neither Ramadan Abedi or Hashem Abedi have been charged.

Meanwhile, Manchester police have said that Salman Abedi was part of a larger terrorist network and that he didn’t act alone. In a news conference, Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said that four other people had been arrested in connection with the attack at Manchester Arena.

“It is very clear that it’s a network we’re investigating,” he told reporters. “We are carrying out extensive searches of premises across Manchester.”

Three of the four arrests were made on the south side of Manchester, the area where Abedi lived, according to authorities. Hopkins declined to identify the four people in custody. (Abedi died in the arena explosion.

Hopkins said investigators are conducting multiple raids, including at least one where a controlled explosion was used to help gain access.

Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins
| Credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty

“Officers are currently at the scene,” Hopkins said, “but in order to do this safely, we briefly had to close a nearby mainline railway, which has now been reopened. Those extensive searches will now continue.”

Hopkins warned that people in the area will see heightened police presence.

“People will have seen a significant increase in the number of armed officers in Greater Manchester,” he said. “With the threat level [nationwide] being increased to critical, you will be aware that military are supporting policing across the country. We were able to receive additional armed policing support.”

Upcoming Manchester events are expected to proceed as planned, however.

“We are using [the increased police] to help in our efforts to enable the Manchester Games and Manchester 10k to go ahead,” Hopkins said. “We are working with event organizers and Manchester City Council to review and enhance our safety and security.”

The scene near Manchester Arena in the U.K. following a deadly explosion there on Monday night.
| Credit: Joel Goodman/London News Pictures via ZUMA

Hopkins said that one of the casualties of Monday’s bombing — which killed 22 and injured more than 100 — was a police officer, but he did not identify the victim, citing the family’s wishes.