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Sitting on a wall, their legs dangling off the ground, they could be any pair of fashionably-dressed teenagers.

But one would grow up to be a suicide bomber and the other a gang rapist.

Manchester concert bomber Salman Abedi used to hang around with Bilal Ahmed, who is now serving a nine-year prison sentence for luring a schoolgirl into a hotel room and raping her along with a mob of attackers.

Manchester concert bomber Salman Abedi (third from left) used to hang around with Bilal Ahmed (second from left), who was convicted of rape

Manchester concert bomber Salman Abedi (third from left) used to hang around with Bilal Ahmed (second from left), who was convicted of rape

Manchester concert bomber Salman Abedi (third from left) used to hang around with Bilal Ahmed (second from left), who was convicted of rape

Last year the Daily Mail told the harrowing story of the gang’s victim, a private schoolgirl who said she kept quiet during the terrifying attack because she feared the consequences of protesting.

‘I just stayed quiet because I thought they would kill me if I screamed,’ she said.

‘Any one of them could have had a knife. Nobody else knew I was there. I kept thinking they could kill me and nobody would know.’

The girl, a gifted musician who had little experience with boys, was introduced to the group from South Manchester’s Somali community – among them Ahmed plus Muhyadeen Osman and Mowled Yussuf – by a mutual friend in 2013.

Along with other youths who have not been identified they lured the then 16-year-old back to a run-down hotel in Rusholme, site of Manchester’s famous Curry Mile, where they had been spent the previous night for Eid celebrations.

Finding an unlocked room, the mob forced her inside and each subjected her to a degrading attack – in the words of the judge picking on her as ‘easy prey’.

Last year the trio, then all aged 20, were jailed for a total of 31 years after all being convicted of rape.

Cruelly the victim’s parents faced a gauntlet of intimidation and abuse from the families and friends of the convicted men during the two-week trial.

Sunshine holiday: A young Salman Abedi, far right, poses on a beach with friends in Libya

Sunshine holiday: A young Salman Abedi, far right, poses on a beach with friends in Libya

Sunshine holiday: A young Salman Abedi, far right, poses on a beach with friends in Libya

Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack

Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack

Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack and is believed to have undergone secret jihadi training

Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack and is believed to have undergone secret jihadi training

Salman Abedi (pictured) had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack and is believed to have undergone secret jihadi training

Bilal Ahmed sarcastically blew a kiss at the couple shortly before sentence was delivered.

The girl’s mother said: ‘By supporting them in this way, they are condoning what happened. No wonder so many people are too scared to go to court in rape cases if this is what you have to go through.’

A source told the Mail that Ahmed and Salman Abedi used to hang around together on the South Manchester estates where they live.

Yesterday a neighbour of Ahmed’s family in Whalley Range – close to the home of the attacker’s elder brother Ismail – said: ‘When he went to prison it was such a shock. The rape – that was so, so shocking. The whole community was shocked.’ 

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