The sophistication of the attack initially led British authorities to believe that the bomber had the support of a larger terrorist cell.
The sophistication of the attack’s planning and execution initially led British authorities to believe that the bomber, Salman Abedi, had the support of a larger terrorist cell. That, in turn, led to fears that a bomb maker and a network of supporters could still be at large, preparing further attacks.
But as detectives moved into the eighth day of their investigation, they said that their reconstruction of the movements and actions of the 22-year-old bomber in the four days leading up to the attack showed that he had acted mostly by himself. They did not, however, rule out the possibility that others had been involved.
To date, 16 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, though five of those have been released without charges.
“We still have a number of people in custody and we will be seeking to extend the custody of some of them as we work to understand what has gone on and whether Abedi was helped,” the head of the North West counterterrorism unit, Detective Chief Superintendent Russ Jackson, said in a statement.
More than a thousand officers were involved in the investigation, tracking Abedi through analysis of closed-circuit TV, phone records and other interactions he had with people leading up to the attack. More than 300 pieces of digital equipment have been examined as part of the investigation, police said.
“With specialist support we also have a good understanding of the likely component parts of the bomb and where these came from,” Jackson said. “Our inquiries show Abedi himself made most of the purchases of the core components.”
Abedi, a Manchester resident of Libyan descent, is believed to have visited Tripoli four days before the attack, and experts say that it is likely that he received training there to build the device he used for the bombing.
As the investigation continues, the American singer who was performing on the night of the attack, Ariana Grande, announced Tuesday that she would return to Manchester to participate in a benefit concert for the victims and their families Sunday, alongside other A-list performers including Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus.
“Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before,” Grande said in a statement.