Although he exchanged messages about martyrdom with Salman Abedi, a convicted terrorist denied that he groomed him into extremism at the Manchester Arena attack.
Abdalraouf Abdallah – 28, told today’s hearing about the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017 that no one had influenced Abedi (22), to become an extremist before he caused havoc at an Ariana Grande concert.
Abdallah had been convicted of preparing and funding acts of terrorism in 2016 after helping four men from Manchester travel to Syria – where three of them fought for Islamic State.
The sentence included a nine-and a half year extended sentence and five-and a quarter years custodial terms.
The suspect was later arrested on November 14th 2014 under suspicion of these offences. A subsequent analysis found more than 1000 message exchanges between Abedi and Abedi during the preceding weeks, as well as discussions regarding martyrdom.
Abdallah is a paraplegic who served time at HMP Wakefield and sustained injuries fighting against Gaddafi’s forces.
A radicalisation expert, who was instructed by the inquiry, has concluded that Abdallah had influenced Abedi to a violent Islamist extremist worldview. He will testify later in the inquiry.
MailOnline reported that in 2017, the Manchester Arena suicide bomber visited Abdallah at a British prison months prior to the attack which resulted in 22 deaths.
Abdalraouf Abdallah seen today giving evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry
Abdallah has today told the hearing into the May 2017 Manchester Arena attack that he played no part in grooming Abedi, pictured, into an extremist mindset before he caused carnage at the end of an Ariana Grande concert (left: Abedia in Libya. Right: Abdallah at Victoria Station on his way to Manchester Arena, May 22, 2017.
Paul Greaney, QC was the counsel for the inquiry. He asked: “In those messages or some of them were you trying to groom Salman Abedi to an extremist mindset?”
Abdallah replied, “No. I’m not even an extremist myself. Gaddafi was the first opponent of me, and Assad (the leader in Syria) is my target. I don’t groom. I wasn’t grooming Salman, or anybody.
Mr Greaney said: ‘Do you agree that the type discussion you had with Salman Abedi played at minimum a part?
Abdallah stated that he didn’t know that Abdallah was being radicalized. I did not participate in the radicalisation.
Sir John Saunders, chairman of the Inquiry asked him: “Did you ever suspect that he would become an suicide bomber?”
Abdallah replied: ‘No, no way. Salman knew everything, and neither me nor my friends had any clue.
According to him, when he found out that his friend had been a bomber, it was an emotional moment.
Abdallah says: “It’s something I can never ever, ever ever remove from my mind. It haunts me till now because he has become my friend.
The scene of the Manchester Arena Bombing was near by to police in May 2017.
Manchester Arena lost 22 people in the terror attack and hundreds were injured.
“I was convicted and sent to prison. I then went on with my daily life. He was in prison twice when I got my conviction. After that, I tried calling him once, but he didn’t answer twice.
It haunted my mind until now. I still have it in my head. Why? When? What is the explanation?
Abdallah’s relatives had fled Libya in early 1990s. They were granted asylum in Britain and moved to South Manchester with Abedi, who was also against the Colonel Gaddafi regime at that time.
Abdallah was unsuccessful in appealing against the terror conviction. He maintains innocence.
He further denies knowledge or involvement in the arena attack.