Salman Abedi punching student at college was 'red flag', inquiry hears

Salman Abedi punching female student in row about her wearing short skirt at college was ‘red flag’ to his radicalisation, Manchester Arena terror attack inquiry hears

  • Extremism expert said one of reasons for attack was religious-inspired misogyny
  • Matthew Wilkinson said there was a pattern of terrorists being violent to women
  • The doctor noted Islamic State was widely known for its denigration of women

Salman Abedi punching a female student following a row about her wearing a short skirt could have been a ‘red flag’ to his radicalisation, a public inquiry has heard.

An expert in Islamist extremism told the hearing into the May 2017 Manchester Arena attack that one of the factors in the 22-year-old’s motivation to carry out the suicide bombing was religious-inspired misogyny.

Dr Matthew Wilkinson said there was a pattern of those convicted of Islamist extremist offences also having a history of violence towards women, while the so-called Islamic State group – said to have inspired the bomber – was widely known for its denigration of women.

Abedi 22, murdered 22 people and injured hundreds more when he detonated his homemade bomb at the end of a Ariana Grande concert at the venue on May 22, 2017

During his studies at Manchester College in 2012 and 2013, Abedi punched a student, also from the city’s Libyan community, after she slapped him following comments he made about her appearance.

Abedi retaliated by striking her on the face and then delivered further punches as she lay on the ground, the inquiry was told.

Dr Wilkinson agreed with Nicholas de la Poer QC, counsel to the inquiry, that the incident could be interpreted as being driven by misogyny.

He said: ‘Yes, very much so, and we have other reports from fellow students saying he had related disrespectfully to female members of staff and teachers. One fellow student said he had real problems with women.

‘There is this profile of someone who had a very bad attitude towards women.’

Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi was addicted to pain killers and had attended anger management classes after punching a woman in the head at college, the inquiry into the attack as heard

Abedi was suspended by the college but no charges were brought after police said a ‘mediation’ had taken place at the request of the female student. Police told the college it was safe for him to return after the restorative justice process, the inquiry heard.

Mr de la Poer asked: ‘Do you consider this particular incident should have been raising a red flag for the authorities about whether Salman Abedi had at that stage potentially developed a ‘them and us worldview’ which required some sort of intervention?’

Dr Wilkinson replied: ‘I think if that event had been investigated properly it might have done. It might have flagged up the issues of dress code being abhorrent to Salman.

‘I certainly think if it had been flagged up together with a consistent portrait of Salman Abedi that had come from the various educational institutions where he had attended, then it really might have been a red flag.’

Pictured are the victims of the terror attack at the Manchester Arena in May 2017

Another expert concluded Abedi’s behaviour was ‘problematic’ throughout his time in education, particularly as a schoolboy at Burnage Media Arts College, where there were incidents of extreme rudeness to staff, fighting, swearing, theft and hooliganism.

The disrespect to teaching staff, particularly women, continued as he got older but information on his misbehaviour was not passed between the various educational institutions.

Dr Wilkinson said the Manchester College assault ‘perhaps’ would not have raised a flag on its own but ‘it might have done’.

He added: ‘I think the issue of a lack of this comprehensive portrait was the real issue rather than that particular incident.’

Who are the Abedi’s?: The family who refuse to co-operate with an inquiry into the murder of 22 innocent people 

Hashem Abedi

Hashem Abedi

Hashem Abedi, 23, helped his suicide bomber brother Salman plan the sick attack on 22 innocent people attending an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

He helped build the bomb which his brother detonated at the concert.

Manchester-born Abedi was in Libya when the bomb went off and was arrested there and extradited to the UK.

Prior to the attack, the college drop-out, who worked as a takeaway driver,  started asking the owner of the restaurant he was working for if he could take the metal vegetable oil cans away for scrap. 

Hashem and Salman started using them to test homemade explosives they were experimenting with at their property on Elsmore Road, Manchester.

Hashem was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 55 years, after being convicted of 22 counts of murder. 

He has refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

Ramandan Abedi

Ramadan Abedi

The father of the pair responsible for the Manchester Arena bombings is a Libyan-British national who fought against the Gaddafi regime in with  militant group Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) – which was designated a terrorist organisation by the US, according to the Guardian.

He was arrested in Libya alongside Hashem, but was released without charge.

In Manchester, Ramadan, worked as a security officer,  and was assigned the role of muezzin at Didsbury mosque and calling out prayer five times a day. 

In 2011, Ramadan he travelled back to Libya to fight in a civil war, reports the Guardian.

Shortly before he was arrested in Libya in 2017 he ‘condemned’ terrorist attacks on civilians.

He still lives in Libya and has refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

Samia Abedi

Samia Abedi is the mother of the brothers involved in the Manchester Arena bombing.

Little is known about her background, other than that she lived with Ramadan in south Manchester for more than a decade and that all of the pair’s children were enrolled in schools in the UK.

She is known to have left the UK in 2016, though continued to receive tax credits, child and housing benefit of about £550 a week, even though she left the UK for Libya in October 2016. 

She still lives in Libya and has refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

Joamana Abedi

Little is known about Joamana Abedi, the sister of the pair involved in the Manchester Arena bombings.

The 21-year-old is known to be living in Libya and has refused to co-operate with the inquiry.

In 2017, she gave an interview after the attack in which she described her brother as ‘kind and loving and that she was surprised by what he did.

She said he may have carried out the attack because he wanted revenge for US air strikes on Syria.

Ismail Abedi

Ismail Abedi

The eldest of the brothers, Ismail Abedi still lives in the UK.

He has previously apologised for the actions of his brothers.

In an interview with Sky News  he said he had ‘no idea his brothers had taken this path’.

‘I want to apologise on behalf of my family to the victims, for all the pain Hashem and Salman caused,’ he said.

On his brother’s life sentence, Ismail, who has a wife and child, added: ‘I’m glad this has happened because I can put it all behind me, get on with my life and look after my family.’ 

He is claiming legal privilege in relation to the inquiry.

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