Salman Abedi, the man suspected of bombing a concert venue packed with teenagers in Manchester, northern England, on Monday night, killing 22 people and wounding 59, probably had accomplices, Britain said Wednesday.
The attack was “likely” the work of more than one person, Interior Minister Amber Rudd told BBC radio. “It was a devastating occasion, it was more sophisticated than some of the attacks we’ve seen before, and it seems likely — possible — that he wasn’t doing this on his own.”
Abedi had been on the radar of security services, Rudd confirmed, but only “up to a point.”
“It is somebody that they had known and I’m sure when this investigation concludes we’ll be able to find out more,” she said.
Abedi had spent time in Syria before carrying out the attack, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday.
“Today we only know what British investigators have told us — someone of British nationality, of Libyan origin, who suddenly after a trip to Libya, then probably to Syria, becomes radicalized and decides to carry out this attack,” Collomb told BFMTV, according to a Reuters translation.
On Wednesday, a first picture of the alleged suicide bomber was published by the tabloid UK newspaper The Sun, under the headline “The Face of Pure Evil.”
A 23-year-old man from Manchester — reportedly Abedi’s brother Ismael — is under arrest in connection with the attack on the Manchester Arena toward the end of a concert by US singer Ariane Grande.
An eight-year-old and a teenager have already been named as victims.
On Tuesday, the radical Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, crediting “a soldier of the [caliphate]” with having successfully hit a gathering of “crusaders” at the “shameless” concert.
In apparent reference to the involvement of British troops in military action against it, IS said the attack had been aimed at “infidels… in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims.”
Also on Tuesday, Britain raised its terror threat level to “critical”, meaning a new attack is believed to be imminent, and soldiers were being deployed to assist armed police, British Prime Minister Theresa May said.
Abedi was reportedly the son of Libyans who fled the late Muammar Gadaffi regime but who have since returned to their home country, leaving Salman and Ismael in the UK, although they traveled to Libya several times.
Abedi studied business at the city’s Salford University, the Daily Telegraph reported, but dropped out before finishing his degree.
Neighbors told the Independent that his home had hosted “rotating” groups of young men.
While visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump called those involved in the attack “evil losers” and said that society can no longer tolerate such bloodshed.
Countries across the world paid tribute to the dead by turning lights off or illuminating buildings with the British flag.