PETALING JAYA: The three Malaysians who were questioned by British police on Monday are “innocent Muslim students” who may have been “used” by Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi, The Times reported today.
Friends of the three Malaysian students told the UK daily that Abedi may have taken advantage of the hospitality accorded by them previously.
This follows the revelation that a raid had taken place at the home of the three Malaysians who were then detained for questioning, amid fears that their address was used by Abedi to avoid detection by police and counter-terrorism authorities in the UK.
The Malaysian High Commission in London had also confirmed the detention and questioning of the students in a statement released yesterday.
“The students were reportedly taken to the Longsight police station in Manchester at 5.40pm and released at 9pm, on Monday” the foreign ministry said, without giving any further details.
The Malaysians were believed to have been staying in the same place for the past four years, but any links between Abedi and the address has not been revealed by the authorities.
All three students – two of whom were named by The Times as Aliff Farhan and Muhd Helmi – were released without charge by the police.
Of the three students, two were said to be medical students at Manchester University, while the third was said to be studying at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Friends shared how the trio were all strong advocates against Islamic extremism and terrorism, besides being “hard-working and of good character”.
“These students are Malaysians and Malaysians in general tend to be communal. If this guy is known locally and went to the mosque near by, it is possible they have interacted at some point,” a friend of the Malaysians was quoted as saying by the daily.
According to The Times, Aliff is active in Manchester University’s Islamic society and founded the Independent School of Free Thinkers (ISFT), a group that has held open-door events at the students’ home to discuss capitalism, orientalism and literature.
ISFT has previously organised talks, one of which was titled “Islamo-Nazi fundamentalism and terror that is the biggest threat to the freedom and decency of the world”.
The Manchester terrorist attack, in which Abedi blew himself up in the Manchester Arena at the end of a pop concert by Ariana Grande on May 22, resulted in the deaths of 22 people, including children, and injuries to more than 50 people.
Abedi had previously studied at Salford University, in Manchester, but failed to complete a degree in business and economics.