YNaija Analysis: The Libyan connection in the Manchester concert bombing

by Mark Amaza

Salman Abedi, the culprit of a horrific bombing of a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande in Manchester, England has been identified as a 22-year old Briton of Libyan origin.

Although Abedi was born in Manchester to parents who had fled Libya because of the repressive regime of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the home country of his parents played a huge role in his terrorist attack. The previously liberal young Muslim became more extremist after his family returned in 2011 following the overthrow of Gaddafi, leaving Salman and his elder brother Ismail behind.

Although Salman was seemingly radicalised right at home in Manchester likely through affiliation with members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), also known as Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya, banned by both the United States of America and the United Kingdom as a terrorist group and viewed as an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

One of the members of LIFG was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda.

The pretext for LIFG members going home was to participate in the Libyan Civil War that broke out of the lack of a strong central government in post-Gaddafi Libya and the descent into anarchy.

It was from Libya that Abedi likely went to Syria; even if he did not, there are en0ugh terrorist groups such as the one ran by Azzouz that could have gotten him fully ready for his terrorist act. He returned to Britain only days before he carried out his dastardly attack after three weeks in Libya.

This incident further shows how the destabilisation of countries such as Libya has provided the perfect breeding ground for terrorists – the lawlessness and the anarchy is exactly what they need to run terrorist camps to train agents of destruction. Wherever there is statelessness, terrorists gravitate towards it – Yemen, Syria, Iraq, large swathes of the Sahel region.

This will also be the first terrorist attack in the West with direct links to Libya. Although it is known that al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups have established a presence in Libya, their impact has been limited to the country and in aiding terrorist groups further south such as MUJWA and Ansar-al-Dine in Mali and Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Region by aiding them with training and arms.

Seeing as forming a strong central government in Libya that will enforce law and order in the short-term is not foreseeable, it is more likely that Western governments will pay more attention to all those who visit the country in order to nip terrorist attacks in the bud.

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