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
â€śWhoever played with his mind, as he saw the kids coming out [of the arena] â€“ all the happy faces â€“ he should have changed his mind.â€ť 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 didnâ€™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 Gaddafiâ€™s Libya, all the way to that countryâ€™s â€śsecond capitalâ€ť, as Ghalbon puts it: Manchester.