A senior MI5 officer said today that Salman Abedi’s father was responsible for Salman Abedi’s extremist views.

According to the officer, a senior security service director general, MI5 had done an assessment of Ramadan Abdeli, a Libyan national who fought with the Gaddafi regime and a militant group that was once considered a terror organization by the US.   

He stated that Ramadan was ‘likely’ to have influenced the extremist views and actions of Salman, who in 2017 detonated a suicide blast in the Manchester Arena foyer. 

Ramadan fled Libya for Libya five weeks prior to the attack and has so far refused help.

The MI5 officer, who was referred to as “Witness J” at the inquiry, also revealed that security services knew that Salman had connections to a serious crime group in the city before the attack.

Witness J. asked how MI5 came so close to reopening a probe into Salman’s terror links. 

The inquiry heard that Salman had planned to meet with the investigators nine days after the attack.

The evidence was presented behind a specially-made wooden screen to conceal the identity of the MI5 officer. It was heard during the ongoing inquiry into the terror attack.

The inquiry examines whether Salman’s probe should have been reopened in 2016 as a subject matter of interest, prior to the atrocity.

Officials are trying to gather evidence from close friends and family members regarding Salman’s history and how he became radicalised. 

Ramadan Abedi (pictured) is a Libyan national who fought against the Gaddafi regime with a militant group once designated a terror organisation by the US

Ramadan Abedi (pictured), a Libyan national, fought against Gaddafi’s regime with a militant organization once classified as a terror group by the US

The inquiry heard from Witness J how MI5 came close to reopening an investigation into Salman's (pictured) terror links. A meeting was due to take place nine days after Salman carried out the attack, the inquiry heard

Witness J told the inquiry about how MI5 was close to reopening its investigation into Salman’s (pictured), terror links. The inquiry heard that Salman had planned to hold a meeting nine days after the attack.

The hearing had previously heard that Salman’s brother Ismail Abedi fled the country after he received a notice requesting him to attend the inquiry.

He stated that he would only aid the investigation if he was allowed immunity from prosecution. This request was rejected. Hashem, their brother was jailed for life after he helped Salman to carry out the 2017 attack.

Witness J answered the inquiry today when asked about Ramada their father: “Salman Abedi was deemed likely to have his extreme views informed by Ramadan Abedi, his father.”

Witness J also told the inquiry that it was’reasonable” not to reopen the investigation into Salman, after receiving two pieces intelligence about him in months prior to the attack.

Officer stated that Salman was in touch with six different subjects of interest in the years prior to the attack.

Abedi was also revealed by the senior officer to have links to a serious criminal gang in the city.

Abedi was himself investigated as a subject of interest in 2014, and briefly in 2015. A meeting to decide whether to reopen his case was days away at the time he launched his attack.

The intelligence he received in the months preceding the attack was deemed to be ‘non terrorist activity’ or ‘non terrorist criminality’.

Paul Greaney, QC, was the inquiry’s lead. He stated that “in retrospect, this intelligence was highly relevant for the planned attack, however, the significance of its contents was not fully appreciated at that time.”

The hearing had earlier heard how Salman's brother, Ismail Abedi (pictured), had fled the country after being served a notice demanding he attend the inquiry

The hearing heard earlier that Salman’s brother, Ismail Abedi (pictured), fled the country after he was served with a notice requesting he attend the inquiry 

Witness J said that only fragments were available from the picture. We can see that it was highly relevant to the attack plan in our post-attack analysis.

When asked if he would make a similar assessment ‘not applying hindsight or judgment retrospectively’, he replied: ‘In our opinion it was a reasonable judgement to conclude that he was not associated to terrorist activities and that it was reasonable not to reopen that investigation on that basis.

The officer, one among three director generals gave evidence inside a specially-built wooden box that was attached to a Manchester Magistrates Court Courtroom. It was packed with victims’ families and lawyers.

He said earlier to the inquiry that Salman Abdi was part of a South Manchester group with links to a criminal gang.

The officer said that some of the behaviour and activities of terrorists and criminals can be similar.

“It can be difficult for people to distinguish between drug dealing and fraud related to national security activities.

Abedi’s telephone number was traced back to ‘Subject Of Interest A’ in December 2013. This person was suspected to be planning to travel to Syria to fight.

In 2015, he returned to the scene after having met on numerous occasions with “Subject of Interest A”, who was previously an associate of al-Qaeda and being investigated as facilitating travel into Syria.

The final appearance was that of an associated subject of investigation ‘longstanding’ who had affiliations with a group in Libya, called ‘Subject Of Interest C.’

Although they were believed to have had a radicalizing influence on Abedi, the second and third individuals are not thought to have been aware of his plans to attack.

The inquiry was told by Mr Greaney that the security service had concluded that only Salman Abedi (and Hashem Abedi) were ‘knowingly involved in the attack plot. His brother, who is currently in prison for helping to build the bomb, was the one assessing the intelligence picture.

Abedi was believed to have direct links to a senior ISIS figure from Libya in October 2015. The case was reopened as a subject of interest, but it was closed the day after it was discovered that the links were through a third party.

Abedi was identified in April 2016, January 2017 and April 2017. He was identified as a “contact of a contact” with three individuals of interest. The first provided financial support to Syria, while the second was believed to have traveled to Syria previously and the third allegedly facilitates travel to Syria.

A total of 22 people, many of them children, died in the terror attack at the Manchester Arena on May 22 2017. Pictured: Armed police stand guard outside the arena following the terror attack in 2017

22 people were killed in the terror attack on Manchester Arena, May 22, 2017. Many of these victims were children. Pictured: Armed police guard the arena following the terrorist attack in 2017.

The terror attack claimed 22 lives at Manchester Arena and injured hundreds more

Manchester Arena was attacked by terrorists, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds more. 

Salman Abedi, one of 687 subjects that were of interest on March 3, 2017, was hit by a ‘priority indicators’ to allow his case to be reopened as part Operation Clematis. The indicator was based on information received one-year earlier.

MI5 triaged Abedi’s case on May 1, three weeks prior to the attack and determined that it met the criteria to re-open. However, he was correctly believed to have been overseas, possibly in Libya.

Abedi was one 26 individuals referred by Operation Daffodil on May 8th to be investigated further at a ‘low-level’ level to determine if he had re-engaged in Islamist extremism.

The case was to be reviewed by the MI5 team on May 31st, nine day after the attack. But, Mr Greaney said that the meeting was ‘tragically overwhelmed by events’.

Witness J stated that Clematis was a relatively recent process to assess the risk that individuals are not being investigated.

He added that too many closed subjects of interest would “potentially have an impact on priority investigations”.

The officer spoke out about how a report of the Joint Analysis and Terrorism Centre JTAC (a part MI5) in 2010 highlighted the “close proximity between violent extremeism and criminal bands in Manchester.

Sir John Saunders, inquiry chairman, has ruled that there is a ‘centrally important matter’ relevant to the question whether MI5 could have prevented attacks that cannot be disclosed to the public.

Abedi's other brother, Hashem Abedi, was previously found guilty of 22 counts of murder relating to the attack

Hashem Abedi was previously found guilty on 22 counts of murder in relation to Abedi.

Some hearings will be held behind closed doors, which is the first inquest or inquiry since September 11.

This inquiry examines whether Salman Abedi, a subject of investigation in 2016, should have been reopened in light of what was known at that time by MI5/police.

A second issue is whether Abedi should be reopened as a matter of interest in 2017. This is in response to two instances of information.

The last issue is whether Abedi should be on a 2017 ‘ports-action’ list, which would have alerted the police to his return from Libya four days prior to the attack

The inquiry continues.