Terrorist who refused to speak to Manchester bombing inquiry to be released

News

A convicted terrorist who has refused to tell an inquiry about his contact with the Manchester Arena bomber is set to be released from jail in the coming days.

Islamic State recruiter Abdalraouf Abdallah, 27, was sent to prison in 2016 for being at the centre of a network sending fighters to Syria and plotting to arm them with assault rifles.

The Manchester Arena inquiry, probing the May 2017 terror attack by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, has heard that Abdallah is a “witness with important evidence to give”.

But when questioned in jail this summer by inquiry lawyers he refused to answer in case he incriminated himself, the inquiry heard.

Abedi, 22, visited Abdallah at Altcourse prison in Liverpool in January 2017.

Abedi was not being monitored by security forces at the time. Four months later he murdered 22 people at the Manchester Arena.

Abdallah also spoke to Abedi from jail on a smuggled phone during the period when the bomb was being prepared.

When Abdallah, from Manchester, was arrested in 2014, his phone contained messages shared with Abedi about martyrdom, the inquiry heard.

Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said Abedi’s relationship with Abdallah was “one of significance in the period up to the bombing”.

In an earlier appeal hearing against Abdallah’s prison sentence of up to five-and-a-half years plus a four-year licence period, Lord Justice Treacy said: “He represented a future danger.”

But Abdallah will now be released as he has completed his full jail sentence, when taking into account time spent on remand.

His licence conditions mean he is likely to be placed in probation accommodation where he will have to wear a GPS tag, obey a curfew and report in several times a day.

The Ministry of Justice said: “Terrorists released on licence are supervised by the Probation Service, with the support of police and security services, and subject to strict conditions including restrictions on internet use, movements and contact with others.

“If they break those conditions they can be brought back to prison.”

Abdallah’s trial heard he directed operations “on a daily basis” using contacts across Europe. He became paralysed from the waist down after being shot in the spine fighting Colonel Gaddafi’s troops in Libya in 2011.

There are around 110 more convicted terrorists who could be freed as they become eligible for parole having completed at least two-thirds of their sentence.

Abdallah’s brother Mohammed, 28, was jailed for 10 years in 2017 after leaked documents listed him as an IS sniper.