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Pictures Of Manchester Bomber Published Online (Photos)

| by Michael Howard

Images of Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old man identified the perpetrator of the May 22 Manchester suicide bombing, have surfaced online.

One photo shows a teenage Abedi standing on a beach. In another he is sitting on a ledge next to a brick building. In both cases he is surrounded by friends and looks like an average teenager.

According to his former classmates, the pictures were taken when Abedi was 14 or 15 years old. The one on the beach was taken during a trip to Libya, where his parents were born, while the other was taken near his home in South Manchester, where Abedi grew up.

Abedi's former friends described him as "quiet" and said he was "not the sort of kid that stood out," reports the Daily Mail. They said he was not very interested in religion and was known to smoke marijuana. He also played soccer.

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Reports indicate that two people who knew Abedi called an anti-terrorism hotline in 2012 to report that Abedi told them he thought "being a suicide bomber was OK." Moreover, a senior U.S. intelligence official stated that members of Abedi's family once told police they believed he was "dangerous."

One former classmate said he noticed a change in Abedi's personality in 2016, when Abedi began spending time with a new group of friends.

"It was like a turning point," the former classmate told the Daily Mail. "He suddenly started hanging out with people I'd never seen before and not his old friends anymore."

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The Burnage Academy For Boys, which Abedi attended between 2009 and 2011, released a statement expressing solidarity with the victims of the attack.

"We are a Manchester school. We feel the pain that Manchester feels," the school said. "We stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Mancunians against terrorism in all its forms. Our deepest condolences go to all who have been affected by this outrage."

Abedi had reportedly returned from a three-week trip to Libya just days before the bombing. He is said to have traveled back and forth between England and Libya repeatedly over the last few years.

Speaking from his home in Tripoli, Abedi's father, Ramadan, said his son appeared "normal" when he spoke to him days before the attack.

"We don't believe in killing innocents," he said. "This is not us."

CNN reports that, according to U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Abedi was known to British authorities.

"The intelligence services know a lot of people, and I'm sure we will find out more what level they knew about him in due course," Rudd told the BBC. "But at the moment all they have confirmed is that they did know about him, and as I say we will find out more when the operation is complete."

The attack is believed to have been organized by a broader network of terrorists that Abedi had been in contact with.

"It was a devastating operation," Rudd said. "It was ... more sophisticated than some of the attacks that we've seen before. And it seems likely, possible, that he wasn't doing this on his own. So the intelligence services and the police are pursuing their leads in order to make sure that they get all the information, and reduce therefore the risk, that they need to keep us all safe."

So far Manchester police have arrested four people in connection with the bombing.

Sources: Daily Mail, CNN / Photo credit: Mikey/Flickr, Daily Mail

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