November 2, 2017 / 1:21 PM / 2 years ago

Libyan force says will not extradite brother of Manchester suicide bomber to UK

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A Libyan armed group holding the brother of a suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert in the English city of Manchester will not grant a British extradition request, its spokesman said on Thursday.

Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton born to Libyan parents, blew himself up at the end of a show by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the deadliest militant attack in Britain for 12 years. His victims included seven children while more than 500 people were injured.

On Wednesday, British police said they had issued an arrest warrant for his brother Hashem Abedi and prosecutors had asked Libya to extradite him.

“We will not extradite Hashem Abedi to UK authorities,” said Ahmad Ben Salim, spokesman of the Deterrence Force (Rada), a counter-terrorism group allied to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli.

He said there was no legal agreement between Britain and his group to allow extradition.

Various armed factions in Tripoli have aligned themslves with the government, some with semi-official status for law enforcement.

On Wednesday, British police said they had applied for and been granted an arrest warrant for Hashem Abedi for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to cause an explosion.

Islamic State said it was responsible in the immediate aftermath of the bombing but security services have always treated the claim with scepticism.

Days after the attack Libyan counter-terrorism investigators arrested Hashem Abedi and the brothers’ father Ramadan.

In June, the Special Deterrence Force said Hashem Abedi had told them his brother had been radicalised in Britain in 2015.

They had both flown from Britain to Libya in April and Hashem said he had helped buy the equipment necessary for the attack although he had not known that Salman was planning a bombing, Rada said.

British police say Salman Abedi returned to Manchester on May 18, four days before his attack.

The family had emigrated to Britain during the rule of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The brothers’ parents returned to Libya during the country’s 2011 revolution.

Police have previously said they believed Salman Abedi had built the bomb himself and CCTV showed him buying nuts from a hardware store that were used as shrapnel as well as the tin that was believed to contain the explosives.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Gareth Jones

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