Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi's frequent trips to Libya point more toward an "ISIS directed attack" rather than one committed by a lone wolf who had been self-radicalized, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell said Wednesday.
"We know that ISIS is in Libya, once had a stronghold in Libya," Morell, now a contributor for CBS News, commented on the "CBS This Morning" program.
"It's possible he had ISIS contacts there. It's also possible he traveled to Syria. They're still trying to figure that out."
Abedi, 22, made several trips to Libya, reports The Telegraph in London, and a friend told the newspaper that he had gone to Libya three weeks ago "and came back recently, like days ago."
The United Kingdom has raised its threat level to from severe to critical, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying there "is a possibility that we cannot ignore" that there are further individuals involved in the bomb attack following a concert by pop artist Ariana Grande, and that another attack could be "imminent."
"There's five threat levels in the U.K.," said Morell. "Since 2014, they've been [near] the highest level because of all of the terrorist activity. Yesterday they raised it to the highest level.
"Reason they did that is they're not sure he did not act with a bigger group, that he was part of a bigger network. Until they figure that out it's best to assume he was and that more attacks might be coming."
It will known for sure if Abedi was involved in a terror network, but for now, the higher threat level means the "military replaces the police in some of the most vulnerable areas, and wso that's what will change on the street."
Many of the victims in the attack were young girls, and Morell pointed out that ISIS has said from the beginning that women and children are also part of their targets.
"They don't make a distinction between men, women, and children, and I think that's what we saw here," said Morell. "I'm not sure he targeted [them] because they were young children, but he didn't care that they were."
There are, however, "huge gains" being made on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, said Morell, but that could also raise the threat of attacks.
"Mosul will fall by the end of the week, Raqqah by the end of year," he said. "ISIS is saying to the world, 'don't come to Iraq and Syria anymore, to conduct attacks for us where you live.' So that's becoming a stronger message that may have played a role here."
In addition, Morell pointed out, "7,000 people from western Europe went to fight in Iraq and Syria. Two thousand have come home already. Some have died on the battlefield. But as they get squeezed more and more in Mosul and Raqqah, more and more are going to come home and that actually raises the threat level."
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