A jailed UK terrorist and close friend of the Manchester Arena bomber who has refused to cooperate with the public inquiry into the attack is to be released on parole this week.
Abdalraouf Abdallah befriended bomber Salman Abedi, who visited him in jail in the months before he murdered 22 people and injured hundreds more in the terror attack.
Abdallah, 27, who has “important evidence” about the background to the attack, has so far refused to speak to lawyers for the inquiry about his links with Abedi.
Abdallah, who was left paralysed after being shot while fighting against the Gaddafi regime in the 2011 uprising in Libya, was jailed for more than five years for trying to help people travel to Syria to join jihadists.
Abedi visited him in prison twice and the pair were in regular telephone contact discussing martyrdom, the inquiry was told.
But Abdallah is claiming legal privilege by refusing to answer questions that may incriminate himself, the hearing was told.
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, has previously said: “Salman Abedi’s relationship with Abdalraouf Abdallah was one of some significance in the period prior to the bombing and we are determined to get to the bottom of it.
“We have no doubt he is a witness with important evidence to give. We are continuing to pursue this line of inquiry. We hope on reflection he will cooperate, so will press for him to give evidence before the inquiry.”
In the months leading up to the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017, Abedi and his brother Hashem became visibly more radicalised, gave up on education courses, wore traditional Islamic clothing and grew more religious in their attitudes. Both Abedi brothers were seen associating with known extremist Abdallah.
Abedi visited Abdallah in Belmarsh prison in February 2015 while he was on remand for terror offences. He again visited him in January 2017, along with two other men, travelling from his home in Fallowfield, south Manchester, to visit the now imprisoned Abdallah, at HMP Altcourse in Liverpool.
In February 2017, three months before the Manchester bombing, prison authorities found that Abdallah had an illicit phone and had tried to make calls to Abedi.
The pair discussed martyrdom, the public inquiry has heard, and a third visit was booked for in March 2017, but did not take place.
Two months later, Abedi detonated his shrapnel-packed rucksack bomb, killing 22 people and injuring hundreds of others as they left an Ariana Grande concert.
Abdallah, from Manchester, was paralysed from the waist down after being was shot while fighting in the Libyan uprising in 2011 and returned to the UK for treatment.
In May 2016 he was jailed after being convicted of preparing and funding acts of terrorism by helping four others travel to Syria for terrorism, including his older brother.