Brother of Manchester Arena bombers apologises to victims' families

21 August 2020, 17:37

Ismail Abedi has apologised for the pain caused by his brothers Hashem (L) and Salman (R)
Ismail Abedi has apologised for the pain caused by his brothers Hashem (L) and Salman (R). Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The older brother of Hashem and Salman Abedi, the pair responsible for the Manchester Arena bomb attack, has apologised to the families of the victims.

It is the first time Ismail Abedi has spoken out in the three years following the attack which left 22 people dead and injured dozens more.

His apology comes after 23-year-old Hashem was ordered on Thursday to serve a minimum of 55 years in prison after being found guilty of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

The sibling told Sky News he had "no idea his brothers had taken this path".

He said: "I want to apologise on behalf of my family to the victims, for all the pain Hashem and Salman caused."

Speaking about his brother Hashem's life sentence, Mr Abedi told the news outlet he was "glad" to see the case concluded as he could now "put it all behind" him and "get on" with his life with his family.

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Hashem, now 23, refused to attend court and face the victims' families on Thursday despite his role in sourcing, stockpiling and transporting the components used in the bomb at the Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.

He was apparently brought into the building from Belmarsh prison, having previously sacked his legal team and effectively withdrawing from the murder trial.

Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, passing sentence on the bomb plotter, said: "If the defendant, like his brother, had been 21 or over at the time of the offence, the appropriate starting point would have been a whole life order.

"Not only because of the combination of the significant degree of pre-meditation but also because the motivation for them was to advance the ideology of Islamism, a matter distinct to and abhorrent to the vast majority for those who follow the Islamic faith."

His brother Ismail was born in London and, like his siblings, grew up in Manchester, according to Sky News.

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Despite leaving the family home in 2013 and getting married and having a child since, Mr Abedi said he would still speak with his brothers.

He commented on how his brother Salman "changed over time", becoming more religious and spending more time in the mosque, something he described as "just normal".

"I spoke to him the night before the attack, he seemed calm, quite normal, there was no indication he'd do anything like this," he told the news outlet.

In the hours following the attack, Ismail Abedi was taken into custody in Manchester by counter terror police.

He was released after two weeks of questioning without any charge.

Mr Abedi said the past three years had been traumatic for him after losing his brothers and seeing his family break up following the attack.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Baker said: "The defendant and his brother were equally culpable for the deaths and injuries caused by the explosion.

"The stark reality is, these were atrocious crimes. Large in scale, deadly in intent, appalling in their consequences.

"The despair and desolation of the bereaved families has been palpable."

Grieving families gave emotional evidence from courtroom two of the Old Bailey on Wednesday as judge Mr Justice Jeremy Baker began the process of sentencing the homegrown Islamic State-inspired jihadi.

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