The brother of the Manchester Arena bomber made secret trips to Europe hoping to fund multiple terror attacks.
At one point, Hashem Abedi lived in Germany for over six months to build up contacts with an Islamic State-supporting network suspected of financing outrages across Europe.
Abedi, now 22, was this week found guilty of murdering 22 people including children at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, in the suicide blast set off by his older brother Salman, 22.
He was also convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions and attempted murder of the 264 people injured.
Investigation has discovered he spent the six months immediately prior to the attack in the Leipzig and Weissenfels area, where he worked as a driver. He met with possible financiers before the attack.
Three of his contacts worked in property and were suspected of money laundering. One was raided by police for tax evasion and violation of labour laws. The second was reportedly arrested in Dubai for violating trade embargoes on Libya.
A third was a Libyan who praised Islamist “martyrs” online and allegedly has close links to a militia group loyal to late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
He also has extensive social media links to Manchester. One man who met Hashem said: “He stood out. Most of the community in that area are Libyan exiles. He was obviously in awe of his brother – it seemed his brother was the person who really raised him.
“Remember his dad had returned to Libya when he was quite young. He never specifically said, ‘I want money for a terror attack’. He was always on the fringes asking questions.”
Security agencies believe Hashem’s trips to Germany point to a terrorist financing cell there. Just days before Salman carried out his attack, he transited through Dusseldorf Airport on his way to Manchester from Turkey.
It is thought the brothers also visited Libya, meeting a core IS unit which planned some of the terror outfit’s worst hits in Europe, including in Paris in 2015
Hashem’s details were recorded when he was caught fare-dodging on the train from Weissenfels to Leipzig in east Germany. After the Manchester attack he was held in Libya and investigators began to probe his links with Germany.