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Manchester bomber 'linked to IS battalion behind Bataclan massacre' Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

Manchester bomber 'linked to IS battalion behind Bataclan massacre'

The bombing in Manchester targeted a concert popular with young children [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2017

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Salman Abedi is known to have been in contact with the Katibat al-Battar al-Libya, Islamic State's commando unit responsible for some of Europe's worst terrorist attacks.
The man who killed 22 people at a concert in Manchester last month was reportedly in contact with the same Libyan Islamic State battalion behind the 2015 Bataclan nightclub attack in Paris.

Salman Abedi, who is known to have travelled to Sabratha, a well-known Islamic State stronghold in east Libya, was reportedly communicating with Katibat al-Battar al-Libya (KBL), a retired European intelligence chief told the New York Times.

The exact details of this communication remains a secret and the identity of the intelligence source could not be named by NYT, as he spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The KBL moved their headquarters to Libya from Syria in March 2014 and attracted a large number of Tunisian and Belgian youths, an investigation by a UK intelligence consultancy found.

Cameron Colquhoun, the managing director of Neon Century, reported in 2016 that although there was no "smoking gun" connecting KBL to the attacks, the weight of verifiable evidence strongly suggested their involvement.

"The evidence suggests KBL, more so than ISIS, assisted or directed many of the major terrorist attacks in the past few years," he wrote for Bellingcat.

One prominent member of BTL was Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind behind the Bataclan attack which left 130 people dead at a rock concert in November 2015.

The UK minister responsible for Middle Eastern affairs said on Wednesday that his government "could have done more" to prevent Libya sliding into chaos - creating the ideal environment for IS to operate in.

"I really do believe that not knowing the full outcome of events is not reason for inaction,"  said Tobias Ellwood.

Inghimasi

The BTL are renowned for their 'shock' tactics, such as the infamous inghimasi attacks, whereby a suicide bomber will advance into enemy lines using light weaponry before detonating their device.

It was reported that Abedi's attack in Manchester used some of these inghimasi tactics, adding to the suspicion of his training with the BTL.

Abedi was allowed to travel to Libya by the British government to fight in the civil war against Muammar Gaddafi as a teenager in 2011.

During this time, he may have been introduced to Islamic State fighters who prey on younger men with troubled backgrounds.

A YouTube video, reportedly showing a number of BTL fighters in Libya, shows a group of young men who appear to be under 18.

Abedi's neighbours told reporters that he had regularly consumed drink and drugs and had possible links to local criminal gangs.

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