A report questions the role of British intelligence before the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert

FILE PHOTO: A boy wearing an Ariana Grande hoodie looks at flowers and tributes left behind by attack victims at the Manchester Arena in St Ann’s Square in Manchester, Britain, May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File photo (PHIL NOBLE/)

Britain’s national intelligence agency failed to act fast enough on key information and missed an important opportunity to prevent the suicide bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 in Manchester, north-west England, an inquest found on Thursday.

A new investigation into the role of the British authorities in relation to the May 2017 suicide bombing in Manchester, which killed 22 people, found that the MI5 intelligence could have done more to try to prevent this attack, perpetrated at the exit of a concert by the American artist Ariana Grande.

The attack was committed by Salman Abedi22 years old, and although investigators initially ruled out the involvement of other accomplices abroad, a new investigation determined that he could have had the help of someone from Libya.

This independent examination, headed by John Saunders, involves putting black on white for the first time a hypothesis that until now had always been denied by MI5, which it only widened the circle of responsibility to the brother of the suicide bomber.

The new report sees “more likely than not” that other people were aware at least in part of Abedi’s plans, “although they may not know all the details,” he reported. BBC.

Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena
Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena

Saunders said an MI5 official had admitted that he viewed intelligence on suicide bomber Salman Abedi as a potential national security issue, but had not discussed it with colleagues quickly enough.

“I have found an important missed opportunity to take action that could have prevented the attack,” Saunders said.

In a rare televised statement, the director general of MI5, Ken McCallumwho normally keeps a low public profile, said he was “Deeply sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack.”

“Gathering covert intelligence is difficult, but if we had managed to take advantage of the small opportunity we had, those affected might not have experienced such terrible loss and trauma,” McCallum said.

Abedi, 22, detonated a backpack bomb in the stadium concourse at the end of the concert on May 22, 2017, as thousands of young fans, including many children, were leaving pop star Ariana Grande’s show. More than 100 people were injured. Abedi died in the explosion.

Police stand guard at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by US star Ariana Grande in Manchester, northwest England, on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS
Police stand guard at the scene of a suspected terrorist attack during a pop concert by American star Ariana Grande in Manchester, northwest England, on May 23, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS (AFP/)

His brother, Hashem Abedi, was convicted in 2020 for helping to plan and carry out the attack. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Saunders said that had MI5 acted on the intelligence it received, it could have led to action, including possibly detaining Abedi at Manchester airport on his return from Libya four days before the attack.

Caroline Curry, whose 19-year-old son Liam Curry was among those killed in the attack, said Thursday she could not forgive intelligence officials for their failures.

“From top to bottom, from MI5 to the attacker’s associates, We will always believe that you all played a role in the murder of our children.”, he told reporters.

Multiple MI5 witnesses gave testimony to the closed-door investigation, and the intelligence was not disclosed publicly.

Abedi had been a “topic of interest” to MI5 officials in 2014, but his case was closed soon after as it was deemed low risk.

Saunders also said authorities did not refer Abedi to the government’s anti-terrorism program, known as Prevent.

“I have come to the conclusion that there was at least one period during Salman Abedi’s journey into violent extremism when he should have been referred“, said.

Thursday’s report was the third and final on the attack.

Saunders previously criticized arena security personnel and local police for failing to identify Abedi as a threat. He also criticized the delays and failures in the response of the emergency services on the night of the attack.

With information from Europa Press and AP

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