Troops are to be deployed onto Britain’s streets amid fears a further terror attack ‘may be imminent’, the Prime Minister has announced. Theresa May revealed the move this evening, less than 24 hours after the bomb attack at a teen concert in Manchester, which left 22 dead and 59 injured.
The Prime Minister confirmed the identity of the Manchester suicide bomber as 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a Muslim of Libyan descent.
But intelligence agencies fear he may not have acted alone – leaving open the possibility of an active Islamist terror cell on the loose.
Britain’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre last night raised the terror threat level to ‘critical’, its highest level.
The threat level has only been raised to ‘critical’ twice since the system was introduced on August 1, 2006.
It came after the worst UK atrocity since 2005, when a nail bomber murdered 22 concert-goers as young as eight at an Ariana Grande concert.
Abedi, a Mancunian of Libyan descent, was the son of an airport security worker, MailOnline can reveal.
Police yesterday carried out a controlled explosion at the doorstep of his home during raids around the city. Forensics officers were seen emerging from the killer’s property carrying a booklet called Know Your Chemicals.
Police also raided a house where Abedi’s brother Ismail, lived and the 23-year-old was arrested outside a Morrison’s in the Chorlton area of Manchester.
Eight of the 22 victims have been named as college student Georgina Callander, eight-year-old schoolgirl Saffie Roussos, 26-year-old John Atkinson, Kelly Brewster, 32, Megan Hurley, Alison Howe, 45, Lisa Lees, 43, and Olivia Campbell, 15.
Security services are trying to establish whether Salman worked alone or was part of a wider network that helped him with the bomb.
A school friend told The Times that Abedi had returned to Libya in the past week.
The friend said: ‘He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.’
On Monday evening he placed a suitcase on the ground in the foyer of the Manchester Arena moments before it detonated, according to CCTV footage recovered by detectives.
The Daily Mirror have also claimed an investigation is under way on his ties with fellow Mancunian Raphael Hostey, also known as Abu Qaqa al-Britani, a known Islamic State recruiter from the city.
Speaking inside Downing Street following a meeting of the emergency committee Cobra, Mrs May said: ‘Earlier today I said the security services needed to investigate whether Abedi was working alone and these investigations continue.
‘It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack.
‘The joint terrorist analysis centre has concluded that the threat level should be increased for the time being from severe to critical.
‘This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely but a further attack is imminent.’
It means armed soldiers will patrol key sites across the country, at sporting fixtures and musical events.
Undercover SAS troopers will join regular soldiers in Operation Temperer.
She added: ‘We don’t want the public to feel unduly alarmed. We’ve faced a serious terrorist threat in this country for many years.’
She said the response was ‘proportionate and sensible’.
The Prime Minister said: ‘The liberal pluralistic values of Britain will always prevail over the hateful ideology of the terrorists. They proved that cowardice will always be defeated by bravery.’
This picture shows where police carried out a series of raids across Manchester this evening, including at the house of Salman Abedi and his 23-year-old brother Ismail who was arrested outside a Morrison’s on Carlton Road
Mrs May closed her statement saying the spirit of Manchester and Britain as a whole showed the terrorists would not win, and branded atrocities such as last night’s ‘sick plots’.
She said: ‘That’s why the terrorists will never win, and we will prevail.’
Tonight’s announcement comes after ISIS claimed responsibility for the worst terror attack Britain has seen since the 7/7 London bombings.
The suicide bomber, Salmon Abedi, was known to the security services but was not part of any active investigation or regarded as a high risk.
He died at the scene and police today carried out a controlled explosion at his home as chemical experts were seen outside with specialist instruments to check the property for traces of chemicals or explosives.
Born in Manchester on New Year’s Eve 1994, the third of four children, his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime and his father is a suspected fighter who left the UK in 2011 to try to overthrow the Libyan leader.
His father, Ramadan Abedi, is a former airport security worker, MailOnline can reveal.
He emigrated to London with his wife Samia Tabbal, 50, before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they settled in a housing association-owned home about two miles from the scene of Monday night’s terror attack.
Friends and neighbour said Abedi appeared to be a normal football-mad teenager who was massive Manchester United fan and spent hours playing computer games on the PS4. He is said to have attended multiple schools including Manchester Claremont Primary School, Burnage Academy, William Hulme and Stretford Grammar School.
But everything changed in 2011 when his father abruptly left his job and home in the anonymous suburb to fight in Libya, leaving his family to fend for themselves, according to a local imam.
Abedi and his brothers appear to have followed in his footsteps by sharing stories of British jihadis fighting in Syria on social networks and even praying in the street.
The suicide bomber was heard chanting Islamic prayers in Arabic just weeks before the attack, a neighbour has revealed.
Lina Ahmed, 21, told MailOnline: ‘They were a Libyan family. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic. He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger.’
Salman and his brother Ismail worshipped at Didsbury mosque, where their father is a well-known figure.
Ramadan is thought to be in Tripoli. His wife, Samia, is undestood to be in Manchester.
Some were shocked by Salman’s involvement in the terror attack. One member of Manchester’s Libyan community told The Guardian: ‘Salman? I’m astonished by this. He was such a quiet boy, always very respectful towards me. His brother Ismail is outgoing, but Salman was very quiet. He is such an unlikely person to have done this.’
However others had a different recollection of the 22-year-old. Mohammed Saeed, the imam of Didsbury Mosque and Islamic Centre, said Salman Abedi had looked at him ‘with hate’ after he gave a sermon attacking ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.
He said a friend was so concerned that he got his adult children to sit beside Salman Amedi in case he attacked the imam.
Police were last night also quizzing his brother Ismail, 23, on suspicion of involvement in the bombing.
The IT manager, who is married to a maths teacher, worked for Park Cake Bakeries in Oldham until January. It is believed that Ismail, who worked as a teaching assistant giving Arabic classes and IT support at Didsbury mosque Quran school, was once reported to a counter- terrorism unit after concerns were raised by members of the Muslim community.
Leon Hall, who went to school with Abedi, told MailOnline he saw the killer last year and said he had grown a beard. He also said the jihadist was a keen Manchester United fan.
Mr Hall said: ‘I saw him last year and he had a beard thing going on. We didn’t speak but just nodded to each other. I don’t remember seeing him with beard before.’
‘He always had a bit of an attitude problem. I can’t say I really liked the man.’
Mr Hall said Abedi lived in a housing association owned home about two miles from the scene of Monday night’s terror attack.
Abedi’s younger brother Hashim, now 20, has posted comments on ISIS-supporting sites. He showed an interest in Reyaad Khan, the Welsh jihadi killed in a drone strike, and commented on a newspaper article when Khan’s mother appealed for her son to come home in 2014 before he was killed.
Hisham wrote: ‘Inshallah we go together, man.’
Abedi’s sister Jomana, 18, attended the school in Whalley Range that hit the headlines in 2015 when twin pupils, aspiring medical students Zahra and Salma Halane, left their homes and moved to IS-controlled Syria.
Eight of the 22 victims have been named as college student Georgina Callander, eight-year-old schoolgirl Saffie Roussos, 26-year-old John Atkinson, Kelly Brewster, 32, and Megan Hurley.
Ms Brewster, an office worker from Sheffield, was said to have shielded her niece, Hollie, 11, when the bomb went off.
Alison Howe, 45, and Lisa Lees, 43, from Royton, in Oldham, were named among the dead tonight. They had been waiting in the foyer for their 15-year-old daughters Darcia Howe and India Lees.
Olivia Campbell, 15, who twice entered Britain’s Got Talent, was confirmed dead by her mother Charlotte, 36, on Facebook.
She wrote: ‘RIP my darling precious gorgeous girl…taken far far too soon, go sing with the angels and keep smiling mummy loves you so much.’
Saffie Rose Roussos, 8, is the youngest known victim of last night’s atrocity. Her mother, Lisa, was criticially injured and neighbours say she does know her daughter had died
The headteacher of the school of the youngest victim named so far, Saffie Roussos, said she was ‘simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word’.
Tracey Radcliffe, a leader at 1st Tarleton Brownies, added: ‘Saffie was an adorable and lovable little girl – she really was.
‘I didn’t know her parents, but she was just lovely. No one should go to a gig and not return.’
A close friend of victim Georgina Callander said she died in hospital with her mother at her bedside in hospital.
Another friend tweeted: ‘A beautiful girl with the kindest heart & soul, I’ll miss you forever, may you rest in a better place than here. I love you.’
Victim Mr Atkinson, from Radcliffe, was leaving the concert at the venue when it was targeted by the suicide bomber.
Friends and family have paid their respects online, describing him as an ‘amazing young man’.
Lee Paul posted on Facebook: ‘Sleep tight John Atkinson. Thoughts and prayers with all your family and the other 21 people who lost there lives last night.’
Tracey Crolla wrote: ‘Thinking of all the Atkinsons at this very sad time John Atkinson you turned into an amazing young man so kind and thoughtful you will be missed by everyone x x.’
Megan died in last night’s attack after watching singer Ariana Grande at the MEN Arena, while her brother Bradley was injured, a fundraising page has revealed.
Friends have posted heartfelt tributes to the youngster.
The page was set up by friend Helen McDermott to give Megan ‘a beautiful send off’ and has already raised more than £1,800.
Ms Brewster died as a result of injuries suffered when she ‘shielded’ her young niece from the deadly blast.
Officers confirmed to family members that she had died at 10.30pm last night.