The Manchester suicide bomber who killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017 had been rescued from the civil war in Libya by Britain’s Royal Navy just three years earlier.
Salman Abedi, who was born in Manchester, was 19 when he was evacuated from the Libyan capital of Tripoli by HMS Enterprise in August 2014, along with his younger brother Hashem and more than 100 other British citizens.
The ship took the passengers to Malta where they boarded a flight to the UK.
In a statement a British government spokesperson confirmed the rescue: “During the deteriorating security situation in Libya in 2014, Border Force officials were deployed to assist with the evacuation of British nationals and their dependents.”
The government at the time advised British nationals to leave Libya as a result of heavy violence in Tripoli and large-scale military offensives against Islamist groups, the statement added.
Abedi was being monitored by British security services when he traveled to Libya but his case was closed a month before he was rescued.
It was later revealed that the former business and management student had been back in Libya for three weeks before carrying out the attack, returning to the UK just days before he walked into the Manchester Arena where he detonated a bomb that killed parents and children as they left the pop concert.
A review into the Manchester attack concluded that the decision to close Abedi’s case as a “subject of interest” was sound, based on the information available to British security services at the time.
Abedi grew up in Manchester with parents who had fled Libya under the late Moammar Gadhafi. His father, Ramadan, had returned to Libya in 2011 after rebels overthrew the government. Ramadan Abedi’s wife joined him in early 2017.
Hashem Abedi, Salman’s brother, is currently being held in prison in Libya by a militia group, though the British government has requested his extradition to face trial for alleged involvement in the attack.
Mahatir Pasha contributed to this report.