Reporting of this detail caused a stir on social media, and some headlines were changed as a result.
The concern was that reporting on Abedi praying would lead to ordinary Muslim prayer being seen as a “predictor” or “indicator” of terrorism, and therefore increased suspicion and profiling of Muslims.
So is it relevant that Salman Abedi was praying? The obvious answer is — as someone about to kill themselves and others in exchange for eternal reward — yes, because every action Abedi took in the lead-up to his attack is relevant.
Prayer alone, of course, would predict no such thing and be no reason for suspicion. But security professionals are trained to be alert to behavioural patterns that are outside the norms of a given situation. A young male loitering unaccompanied by a busy music venue for over an hour with an oversized backpack amid a heightened jihadist terror threat would have been well outside typical crowd behaviour at the time, even without praying.
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