LONDON — A key suspect in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people was arrested Wednesday at a London airport after being extradited from Libya, British police said.
Greater Manchester Police said Hashem Abedi, the younger brother of suicide bomber Salman Abedi, has been arrested for murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to cause an explosion likely to endanger life. He was taken to a London police station and is expected to appear in Westminster Magistrates’ Court in the coming days.
‘‘This is clearly an important moment in the investigation,’’ British Prime Minister Theresa May said. ‘‘I hope it is a welcome step for the loved ones of all the victims.’’
Authorities believe Hashem played a major role in planning the suicide bombing, the deadliest in a string of extremist attacks in London and Manchester in the spring and summer of 2017. Targets in London included Westminster Bridge and London Bridge.
Salman Abedi, who set off the Manchester bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017, died in the explosion, which also wounded hundreds, including many with devastating injuries. British authorities have sought Hashem’s extradition for nearly two years.
Greater Manchester Police Chief Ian Hopkins said Libyan authorities handed Hashem over to British police in Libya Wednesday morning and he was immediately flown to Britain in police custody.
The Manchester bombing caused widespread anguish in part because so many of the dead and wounded were young fans of Grande, a pop star with a huge following.