Jailed terrorist friend of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi to be released

Abdalraouf Abdallah Credit: PA Media

A jailed terrorist who was twice visited in prison by Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi is to be released on parole this week - despite refusing to co-operate with authorities.

Abdalraouf Abdallah is believed to have “important evidence” about the attack after Abedi visited him in the months before he murdered 22 people and injured hundreds more.

But Abdallah, 27, who was jailed for five-and-a-half years for terror offences on May 11 2016, is claiming legal privilege by refusing to answer questions for the public inquiry currently sitting in Manchester.

When released, he will spend four years on licence.

Salman Abedi detonated a bomb inside the arena Credit: Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA

In the months leading up to the Manchester Arena attack on May 2 2017, both Salman and his brother Hashem became visibly more radicalised - why and how are key questions the inquiry is to explore.

Salman Abedi visited Abdallah in Belmarsh Prison on February 26 2015 while he was on remand for terror offences.

Abedi visited Abdallah again at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool on January 18 2017 after Abdallah was convicted and serving his sentence, and the pair spoke regularly on the phone.

The same month Abedi and his younger brother Hashem began preparing their bomb plot.

In February 2017, three months before the Arena bombing, prison authorities found that Abdallah had an illicit phone and had tried to make calls to Abedi.

The pair discussed martyrdom, the public inquiry has heard, and a third visit was booked for March 6 2017, but did not take place.

The 22 victims of the terror attack during the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017 Credit: GMP

Two months later, Abedi detonated his shrapnel-packed rucksack bomb, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others as they left an Ariana Grande concert.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the public inquiry, told the hearing earlier this year: “Salman Abedi’s relationship with Abdalraouf Abdallah was one of some significance in the period prior to the bombing and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.

“We have no doubt he is a witness with important evidence to give.

“We are continuing to pursue this line of inquiry. We hope on reflection he will co-operate, so will press for him to give evidence before the inquiry.”

The inquiry was told that Abdallah had numerous telephone contacts with Abedi from 2014 as well as prison visits.

Abdallah, from Manchester, was paralysed from the waist down after being was shot while fighting in the Libyan uprising in 2011 and returned to the UK for treatment.

He was jailed after being convicted of preparing and funding acts of terrorism by helping four others travel to Syria for terrorism, including his older brother, Mohammed Abdallah, 29.

Abdallah’s older brother was convicted and jailed for 10 years in 2017 for joining so-called Islamic State (IS) and receiving £2,000 in terrorist funding from his sibling.

Hashem Abedi, younger brother of Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi (Manchester Arena Inquiry/PA

Abdallah also assisted Stephen Mustafa Gray, of Whitnall Street, Moss Side, a former RAF serviceman and Iraq war veteran, who converted to Islam and who also tried to get to Syria.

Raymond Matimba, 28, of Bold Street, Moss Side, travelled with Gray to Syria but, unlike him, was able to cross the border.

He reportedly became an IS sniper and appeared in footage with the so-called Beatles terror cell alongside “Jihadi John”.

Despite reports that he was killed in combat, his death has never been confirmed.

Hashem Abedi was jailed for life with a minimum 55 years before parole for his part in the bomb plot.

Salman’s family in Libya is also refusing to co-operate.

His older brother, Ismail Abedi, who lives in Manchester, is also refusing to answer questions, as is his right.