Ariana Grande concert bombing could have been stopped

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

Thursday’s report is the third in a deadly terrorist bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. The attack was carried out by a radicalized Islamist suicide bomber, Salman Abedi. A summary of the inquiry’s report was given by its chairman, Sir John Saunders, which was shared by the BBC. It focused on how Abedi became 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, failed to act quickly enough and missed a “significant opportunity” that could have stopped the attack. Coupled with this, the extremist views of Abedi’s parents and his participation in the “fight in Libya” contributed to him becoming a radicalized extremist terrorist and suicide bomber, Saunders reported.

Two key pieces of evidence, not mentioned in the public report, were turned over to MI5 months before 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 walked straight from the airport to a car loaded with explosives. Saunders said security video footage showing Abedi acting strangely near the vehicle meant MI5 could have followed him successfully and “the attack could have been prevented”.

Additional evidence suggests that Abedi and his brother prepared for the attack using an instructional video shared online by the terrorist organization Islamic State. Saunders said authorities must do better to ensure that such videos are not posted online in the future. He also noted that the chemicals used in bomb making had to be declared at the time of purchase.

“None of the brothers’ own purchases were reported to the others,” Saunders said, noting that if that had been the case, “Salman Abedi could potentially have been stopped.” (RELATED: Manchester Bomber once accused his teacher of ‘Islamophobia’)

“I found an important missed opportunity to take action that could have prevented the attack,” Saunders continued. “It is not possible to say whether the attack could have been prevented.” But he added that there was “a realistic possibility” that “actionable information could have been obtained” that would have prevented the attack can. The main reason Saunders and other respondents cited was the failure of the security services to act quickly enough.

Abedi’s family refused to provide any evidence to the inquest. This aspect of the attack raises a gap in understanding of the role they may have played in the process of radicalization of him and his brother.

The BBC’s report is silent, but it reads as if an MI5 officer took the hit for the findings of Thursday’s inquiry. The full report is available online here, but the website was down on Thursday due to high demand, limiting functionality.

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