Opportunities to stop Manchester Arena bombing attack were missed by security services

Salman Abedi
Salman Abedi
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Opportunities to stop the Manchester Arena bombing were missed as a result of a catalogue of failings by security services, a major new report has concluded.

A number of shortcomings in the handling of suicide bomber Salman Abedi before he launched an attack at a pop concert in May last year, killing 22 people, were detailed by Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

22 people were killed when a suicide bomb was detonated in the foyer of Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert

22 people were killed when a suicide bomb was detonated in the foyer of Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert

Allerton High School student, Sorrell Leczkowski, 14, was one of the 22 killed after the explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Others killed in the blast included Leeds Beckett University student Courtney Boyle, 19, and Wendy Fawell, 50, from Otley.

Abedi, 22, first came to the attention of MI5 in December 2010 and was briefly investigated by the agency in 2014.

The ISC assessment said:

- Abedi visited an extremist contact in prison on more than one occasion but no follow-up action was taken by either MI5 or police;

Clockwise from left, Sorrell Leczkowski, Wendy Fawell and Courtney Boyle who were killed in the blast.

Clockwise from left, Sorrell Leczkowski, Wendy Fawell and Courtney Boyle who were killed in the blast.

- MI5 decided not to place travel monitoring or restrictions on Abedi, meaning he was allowed to return undetected to the UK in the days before he carried out the attack;

- MI5 systems moved too slowly after Abedi's case had been flagged for review;

- Abedi was not at any point considered for a referral to the Prevent anti-terror scheme.

Read more: Remembering the Leeds victims of the Manchester attack

The ISC, which has access to top-level security officials and classified material, reviewed the five attacks that hit Britain last year.

In total 36 innocent people were killed. In addition to the Manchester fatalities, five victims died in the Westminster attack in March, eight at London Bridge in June, and one at Finsbury Park in the same month.

Read more: This charity has helped dozens who were caught up in the Manchester Arena bomb attack

Then in September, a bomb partially exploded on a tube train at Parsons Green, injuring 51 people.

The events last year prompted intense scrutiny of Britain's counter-terrorism apparatus after it emerged that in a number of cases, the perpetrators had previously appeared on the radar of agencies.

ISC chairman Dominic Grieve said: "What we can say is that there were a number of failures in the handling of Salman Abedi's case and while it is impossible to say whether these would have prevented the devastating attack, we have concluded that, as a result of the failings, potential opportunities to prevent it were missed."

He noted that both MI5 and counter-terror police have been "thorough in their desire to learn from past mistakes", adding: "The lessons from last year's tragic events must now result in real action."

Read more: Manchester Arena attack: fire service was 'outside of the loop' in emergency response, report reveals

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy had been updated and called on technology companies to ‘play their part’.

He said: "My thoughts remain with the victims and families of last year's attack - which only serve to strengthen our resolve against those who seek to threaten our freedoms and do us harm.

"Following the attacks, the Government, police and MI5 undertook a series of rigorous reviews to ensure we are all doing everything we can to tackle the evolving threat of terrorism.

"As a result, we have updated our counter-terrorism strategy, introduced new legislation to allow threats to be disrupted earlier and have increased information-sharing with local authorities.

"We are also ensuring technology companies play their part by stopping terrorists from exploiting their platforms."

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