In Brief

Manchester bombing ‘might have been averted’

Review finds MI5 dismissed intelligence as ‘not terror-related’ ahead of arena attack that killed 22

The Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert in May could have been prevented had security services responded differently to intelligence about the terrorist behind the atrocity, according to a review by barrister David Anderson. 

While “investigative actions were for the most part sound”, the report says, “it is conceivable that the Manchester attack... might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.

Two pieces of intelligence were dismissed as “not terror-related” in the run-up to the attack, and MI5 missed the chance to issue a notice that would have triggered an alert when the bomber, Salman Abedi, re-entered the UK from Libya four days before the bombing, says The Independent

In retrospect, Anderson says, different decisions might have been taken, but there is no way of knowing if Abedi would then have been stopped, The Guardian reports.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told Parliament today that Abedi was “a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack” and was therefore not under active investigation. “Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi’s plans could have been stopped,” Rudd said.  

Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton born to Libyan parents, detonated explosives following a concert by US singer Ariana Grande. More than 500 people were injured. ​

Anderson oversaw reviews of four terrorist attacks carried out in the UK between March and June 2017, to determine whether the internal reviews by the police and MI5 were thorough enough.

The report also reveals that the London Bridge atrocity mastermind was under “active investigation“ and had been watched by MI5 and police since 2015. Khuram Butt and two other men murdered eight people in the June attack. 

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