On July 17, 2019, Hashem Abedi was extradited to the UK for his role in the Manchester bombing of May 2017. Previously detained in – and extradited from – Libya, the UK has charged Abedi with the murder of the 22 individuals killed at the Ariana Grande concert. Prosecutors argue that Abedi played a key role in manufacturing the explosives used in the attack, crafting detonator tubes for the weapons, as well as purchasing chemicals essential to creating the bombs. He even helped acquire the car that was used to store materials until the attack took place. In addition to these allegations, the UK has charged Abedi with one count of attempted murder, as well as conspiring to cause explosions.
Abedi acted far from alone in this effort. On May 22, 2017, Salman Abedi, Hashem’s brother, detonated the explosive that killed 22 concertgoers, including teenagers and children. Hashem, in Libya during and after the Manchester attack, was detained by Libyan authorities. Libya’s counterterrorism force alleged that he was an engineering student with connections to the Islamic State (ISIS). Further reports indicated that Libyan authorities had tracked Abedi for approximately one month, and believed that he was planning his own attack on Tripoli, the Libyan capital. Authorities have also detained Abedi’s father, Ramadan Abedi, as well as his brother, Ismail Abedi, though neither man has yet been charged.
Abedi and his family have deep ties to Libya. Originally from the country, Abedi’s family fled Libya during the reign of Moammar Gadhafi to ultimately settle in the UK. After living in London, the family moved to Manchester, where Abedi was born and raised. However, once Gadhafi fell from power in 2011, Abedi’s parents moved back to Libya, where they have remained since. Abedi and his brother Salman, meanwhile, continued to live in the UK. Yet they traveled to Libya in April 2017, just one month before the attack. While Salman soon returned to the UK to carry out the bombing, his brother remained in Libya.
At a court appearance on July 22, the judge, Mr. Justice Sweeney, ordered that Abedi be remanded in custody until his next court appearance. On July 30, Abedi will appear for a preliminary hearing, which will occur either at London’s Old Bailey, or in Oxford. Abedi, meanwhile, has asserted his innocence. “He denies any involvement in any of the alleged offenses,” said Zafar Ali QC, Abedi’s attorney. “He did not oppose extradition. He wanted to come back to clear his name.”
Legal proceedings have moved slowly throughout the entire process. Though Abedi was detained in Libya just days after the Manchester bombing, his extradition did not occur until more than two years after the attack. This was likely due to the political instability that has plagued Libya since the Gadhafi’s fall nearly a decade ago, as well as the violent unrest that has broken out this year. Alongside these delays, British authorities have informed victims’ family members that hearings are not likely to occur until April 2020 at the earliest.