-Identified. Manchester bomber, named by UK law enforcement as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.
-Who is he? British born and son of Libyan immigrants who escaped Gaddafi regime. Forensic team still working to formally ID him, blast would have vaporized him. Authorities have also taken into custody a 23-year-old man in connection with incident.
-ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Significant confusion over ‘authenticity’ of ISIS claim. ISIS-linked accounts reported the incident incorrectly, suggesting that a bomb was placed and that the attackers got away. Amaq, however, ISIS’ media arm, first reported something similar, but then withdrew it to say an ‘attacker of the Islamic State carried out the bombing’ implying that an attacker did indeed die in the attack. Over the last two years, ISIS claims have become somewhat an ‘accepted’ medium both for news outlets and even law enforcement. Taken with a pinch of salt, but taken.
-ISIS inspired or directed? Previous note begs several question and may offer some clues to investigators. How much is ISIS in contact with its operatives? A suicide attacker would appear to need the help of a cell. Despite ISIS’ 1-2-3 step tutorials, it’s not that simple to create explosives, certainly not alone. However, ISIS confusion on the claim would suggest communication was not entirely direct.
Could entire cells set up by ISIS operatives be operating autonomously without ISIS knowledge, hence the confusion?
-No direct link so far. British counterterrorism officials for now saying no direct evidence of link between attacker and an established terror group
-Tentacles in the West. Often, there is speculation as to whether the attacker was sent by a terror group or radicalized in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East or whether the terrorist was ‘homegrown.’ Nowadays, there is not much daylight between the two. Whether jihadis from the West, particularly Europeans, go abroad and become radicalized only to come back with the know-how to launch this type of attack or whether they align themselves with extremist ideology while living and remaining in the West is of little concern to a terror group like ISIS, who has evolved its message to recruit followers and supporters wherever they live. More recently, as ISIS has been diminishing in land, funding and influence, the group has repeatedly encouraged would-be jihadis all around the world, particularly in the West, to remain where they are and to launch attacks in their own cities.
-Girls? Children? Nothing is sacred to ISIS. At the same time when we look at the propaganda put out by the Islamic State, videos, tutorials, articles, infographics and a theme set by them that ensures nothing is sacred there appears to be little room for doubting the validity of the claim and certainly not the intent. ISIS has called for attacks on shopping malls, concert arenas and even hospitals. Nothing and no one is sacred. Everyone outside the ‘caliphate’ and the black flag of ISIS is considered a ‘kufar’ or a non-believer and is therefore punishable by death. Over the past couple of weeks, the group has also stepped up propaganda efforts in the lead up to Ramadan.
-The DIY (do-it-yourself) homemade bomb by ISIS. Worth noting that ISIS did create a “how to” video last November, teaching jihadis how to build a homemade bomb.