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20th-century Libyan jihadism's role in Manchester attack

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s multiple trips back and forth to Libya, where his family is widely associated with the Salafi jihadi movement, provided ample opportunity for advanced training to execute the massacre in Manchester.
Flowers and messages of condolence are left for the victims of the Manchester Arena attack, in central Manchester, Britain May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth - RTX37J8V
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If every criminal has a back story, the horrific terror attack that happened May 22 in Manchester, England, was preceded by a sordid mystery novel combining depression, social ostracization, radicalization and multigenerational hate — exactly the kind of story the Islamic State (IS) seeks to prey upon and publicize.

As the investigation into British-born Libyan suicide bomber Salman Abedi continues, the question of whether Abedi was acting alone or affiliated with a larger scheme likely holds the key to unlocking his motivations and the geostrategic significance of his act. Was his crime motivated by his gang connections, his social marginalization or his family’s long history within Libya’s tight-knit activist Salafi movements? Abedi’s back story may represent a unique combination of these elements, but it fits firmly within a similar pastiche of other young people who, due to personal predilections and psychological problems on the one hand and familial and social connections on the other, fall easily into the radical Islamist milieu.

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