The inquest in to the death of Salman Abedi (alleged Manchester arena suicide bomber) was opened this morning with a short summary of how his body was identified and the injuries sustained. It was then adjourned until December 1, giving the authorities time to complete the investigation and the separate inquest in to the 22 victim deaths.
The 6 minute session was led by coroner Nigel Meadows and the only testimony came from Det Chief Insp David Warren. He asserted that 22 year old “Salman Ramadan Abedi” was the one who detonated a homemade improvised explosive device on 22 May, at the closing of the Ariana Grande concert near the Manchester arena entrance.
He said: “The force of the explosion severely disrupted Salman Abedi’s body and he died at the scene … His body was recovered from the scene on May 23rd and transported to a mortuary outside Greater Manchester … On the 24th May a post mortem was carried out by Dr Jonathan Medcalf, a Home Office pathologist. The cause of death was given as multiple injuries … Abedi was identified by an identification commission which sat on the 2nd and 12th of June.”
His remains were reportedly identified by fingerprints, dental records and DNA, seemingly proving that he was indeed one of the deceased at the scene. A bank card in his name was also recovered.
Despite today’s hearing, several questions still remain unanswered about Abedi’s role in the bombing.
1) Was he a witting suicide bomber?
It is continuously asserted that he was a witting suicide bomber, indeed the one who ‘detonated’ the device, but it was widely reported after the attack that the device was equipped with remote detonation capabilities. The inquest has yet to clarify whether these reports are true and if so, how investigators determined Abedi acted alone and was the one that pushed the proverbial button.
2) Where and how was his body discovered?
Exactly where Abedi’s remains landed following the explosion and where they ultimately ended up prior to being formally identified is not known.
Press diagrams based on intelligence leaks to the New York Times positioned him the other side of the arena entrance doors, i.e. beyond the foyer and in to the main part of the arena – quite a feat considering the distance from the alleged blast-center and crowds of people surrounding him.
A new diagram entered during the opening of the victims’ inquest gave an official account of where all of the deceased ended up, but Abedi was not included. The diagram was not updated today, meaning there is no official public record of Abedi’s location, only the press diagrams and the bizarre testimony to the press from an eye witness who claims to have immediately identified the ‘suicide bomber’, and implies he might have hidden the remains behind some doors.
Furthermore, how is all of this reconciled with Abedi being recovered the day after the attack?
3) In what condition were his remains?
The condition of Abedi’s body when it was formally identified is also not clear. Today’s hearing was very vague, using the term ‘severely disrupted’ instead of listing exactly what remains were found.
Knowing the specifics is critical because it is this which will help prove or disprove whether the bomb was on or right next to Abedi’s person when it was detonated. Numerous other scenarios are possible, such as Abedi leaving the bag in one place and walking elsewhere before detonating the device, someone else detonating it etc.
4) Is there CCTV of the blast?
The diagram entered at the victims’ inquest has CCTV labeled in the foyer, which if recording could have captured the entire lead-up, blast itself and aftermath.
No lawyers representing Abedi nor any of his family members were present at Manchester Town Hall. His father Ramadan and brother Hashem are still being held following arrests in Tripoli and his mother and sister are also still presumably in Libya.
Meanwhile Libyan authorities (who have seemingly contradicted various aspects of the official story) are now calling for increased cooperation with Britain’s intelligence and security agencies.