Salman Abedi carried out his attack at a concert in Manchester, England, as revenge for the bombing of Syria by the U.S., his sister has said.
Jomana Abedi said her brother was “kind” and “loving”, but had been driven to his actions by American military strikes against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
“I think he saw children – Muslim children – dying everywhere, and wanted revenge,” she told the Wall Street Journal.
“He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God.”
The comments have provoked outrage in Manchester, where locals accused Jomana of attempting to justify the attack in which 22 mostly young people, including an eight-year-old girl, lost their lives.
“There is no justification for the taking of a child’s lives,” 52-year-old Mancunian Mark Session told the Mirror.
“Any kid losing their life is heart-breaking, but to my knowledge, no children in the allied air strikes has been targeted purposely unlike in Manchester.”
“It is sick to justify the arena bombing in such a way. It is abhorrent in fact.
“There is no place for her comments.”
Robbie Travers, an analyst with think-tank The Gatestone Institute, agreed, dismissing suggestions that Jomana’s comments could be interpreted as calling for an end to a cycle of violence.
Not only were her words meant to excuse her brother, he told Breitbart London, but they could be seen “as suggesting that the Middle East was attacked by terrorism, and that U.S. and IS are moral equivalents.
“[She] seems to justify the struggle and suggest that both sides are equally wrong, which is absurd.”
Travers also dismissed the notion that Jomana could be held up as an example of ‘moderate’ Islam for apparently condemning her brother, where in speaking to the Wall Street Journal she expressed shock at her brother’s actions.
“She is billing herself as a “moderate Muslim,” he said. “Look at the way she blames the victims for the attack. Look at the way she asserts her brother isn’t in control of his actions and was forced to slaughter children.
“Her words illustrate the problem we face: she seems to believe that any form of intervention justifies murder of innocents. She seems to believe that British children are responsible for American actions, as if they have a say in foreign policy.
“If moderate Muslims have conflicting loyalties between IS and the US, a functioning liberal democracy, we should be extremely concerned.”
He added: “She also went on to call her brother ‘kind’, ‘loving’, ‘peaceful’, and ‘tolerant’. This is a form of chauvinism, it’s designed to dirty the names of the victims, whilst protecting the reputation of Islam. It is repellent and wicked. And it is not moderate.”