A suicide bomber responsible for Manchester arena A terrorist attack gave an imam a “hateful look” for preaching against extremism, according to an investigation.
Mohammed Saeed El-Saeiti, a former imam of the Didsbury Mosque, testified as part of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack on Salman Abedi during a pop concert on May 22, 2017.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds were injured, mostly women and girls.
Mr El-Saeiti’s sermon rallied against the so-called Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Libyan militias such as Ansar al-Sharia and the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries, which he called in his sermon at the mosque of “hellfire dogs”.
Mr El-Saeiti said that at the end of the sermon, a man snatched the microphone from him and accused him of espousing political views.
He said: “This man was a cardiologist. I told him he should be ashamed of defending Isis. I told him in front of the congregation.
Mr. El-Saeiti added: “I was talking about the sanctity of human life. I therefore did not mention the political groups. I am not affiliated with any political party, I was just fighting terrorism and extremism.
He said that some time after one of his speeches against Isis he ran into Manchester-born 22-year-old Salman in a hallway of the mosque, adding: “He gave me a hateful look. He showed me that he didn’t love me, basically.
Weeks after the sermon, Salman and his 20-year-old brother Hachem were sitting “very close” to the pulpit and Mr. El-Saeiti said he could see on Salman’s face that “he was not. happy with me ”.
Mr El-Saeiti said: “One of the members of the congregation told me that he had sent his children to sit behind them in case ‘they could do something to you’.”
His speech also sparked a petition calling for his sacking, with signatories including Salman’s brothers Hachem and Ismail, as well as death threats online.
He said he then telephoned Salman’s father, Ramadan Abedi, as he believed his Facebook post calling on him to quit had instigated harm against him.
Mr. El-Saeiti said: “He said to me ‘you mentioned the brothers of Ansar al-Sharia’. He said ‘I know them, they are good people’. So I told them that they were terrorists, that they beheaded, that they were killing.
Ansar al-Sharia was a banned terrorist group in the United States at the time of his sermon in October 2014, and the organization was banned in the United Kingdom a month later.
He said Ismail had also confronted him outside Didsbury Mosque and criticized him for denouncing “the brothers”.
Libyan-born El-Saeiti told the inquiry that he raised concerns about the regular “secret meetings” of Libyans supporting these extreme organizations held at the mosque in 2015 and 2016, which according to him, were authorized by the administrators of the mosque.
But, he said, as far as he knew, the majority of Libyans who attended the mosque, also known as the Manchester Islamic Center, were anti-Colonel Gaddafi, the late deposed leader of Libya.
He said that sympathizers of terrorist groups in Benghazi were part of the congregation and that “some of them signed the petition”.
The president of the mosque, Fawzi Haffar, denied that such meetings took place and called Mr. El-Saeiti a “liar” who he said resented him after being fired.
Mr Haffar said the Didsbury Mosque was “halfway, mainstream” and dismissed any suggestion it was not doing enough to determine whether members of its congregation were radicalizing.
The investigation also learned that Salman’s brother, Ismail, 28, had participated in Quran reading lessons at the mosque between February 2014 and July 2017, despite being in possession of “significant” extremist material on his hands. electronic appliances.
In August, Ismail was allowed to leave the UK a month after being called to testify at the inquest.
His father Ramadan regularly performed the call to prayer at the mosque and his mother Samia worked there as a teacher, according to the survey.
The two parents are currently in the Libyan capital Tripoli, while they are under the surveillance of the authorities, and remain suspects of the bombing.
A Libyan security source said there was no evidence against the parents, who left the UK a month before the attack, the BBC reported.
Libya extradited Hashem to the UK in 2019, and he is currently serving 55 years in prison for his role in the atrocity.
Salman is said to have fought the Gaddafi regime with Ramadan during the school holidays when he was only 16, the BBC also reported.