Bombing At Ariana Grande Concert Could Have Been Stopped, Inquiry Finds

(Photo credit should read CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

An inquiry report released Thursday into a deadly 2017 bombing at an Ariana Grande concert found that local intelligence could have stopped the attack.

Thursday’s report is the third into a deadly terrorist bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. The attack was carried out by a radicalized Islamic suicide bomber Salman Abedi. A summary of the inquiry report was given by its chairman Sir John Saunders, shared by the BBC. It focused on how Abedi was radicalized, and what British intelligence and security services could have done to prevent his actions.

It concluded that MI5, Britain’s intelligence and security service, didn’t act quickly enough, missing a “significant opportunity” that could have stopped the attack. In conjunction, Abedi’s parent’s extremist views and his participation in “the struggle in Libya” contributed to his formation into a radicalized extremist terrorist and suicide bomber, Saunders reported.

Two key pieces of evidence, not shared in the public report, were given to MI5 months prior to the attack. The first piece of evidence was not shared with Counter Terrorism Police and no MI5 officer wrote a report on the second piece of evidence.

Abedi arrived in Manchester from Libya on May 18, 2017, and went straight from the airport to a car stocked with explosives. Saunders said that security video footage showing Abedi acting strangely around the vehicle meant that MI5 could have successfully followed him and “the attack might have been prevented.”

Additional evidence suggests that Abedi and his brother prepared for the attack using an instructional video shared online by terrorist organization Islamic State. Saunders said authorities have to do better in ensuring such videos are not put online in the future. He further noted that the chemicals used in bomb-making needed to be reported at purchase.

“None of the brothers’ own purchases were reported to the others,” Saunders said, noting that if they had, “it is possible that Salman Abedi could have been stopped.” (RELATED: Manchester Bomber Once Accused His Teacher Of ‘Islamophobia’)

“I have found a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack,” Saunders continued. “It is not possible to reach any conclusion as to whether the attack would have been prevented.” But he furthered that there is “realistically a  possibility” that “actionable intelligence might have been obtained” that could have prevented the  attack. The main reasons given by Saunders and other inquiry members was the failure of security services to act swiftly enough.

Abedi’s family refused to give any evidence to the inquiry. This aspect of the attack does pose a gap in understanding the role they may have played in his and his brother’s radicalization process.

It’s unclear from the BBC’s report, but it reads as if one MI5 officer is going to take the hit for the findings in Thursday’s inquiry. The full report is available online here, but the website glitched Thursday due to high-demand, which limited functionality.