The 22-year-old was influenced in part by the people who formed the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a little-known al-Qaida affiliate outlawed in 2004

“Whoever played with his mind, as he saw the kids coming out [of the arena] – all the happy faces – he should have changed his mind.” Those were the words late last week of Hisham Ben Ghalbon, a proud Manchester resident, a Libyan and a man, like so many others, wondering how what happened at the Manchester Arena ever came to pass.

Tragically, 22-year-old Salman Abedi didn’t change his mind. But what had formed and shaped its deadly rage? The search for an answer leads into the labyrinth of Libyan extremist politics of 20 years ago. A thread of resentment, violence and hardline theology that can be traced through Afghanistan and Gaddafi’s Libya, all the way to that country’s “second capital”, as Ghalbon puts it: Manchester.

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