Public inquiry into Manchester Arena bombing to release final report today on whether MI5 and anti-terror police could have stopped Salman Abedi from committing an atrocity that left 22 concertgoers dead
- Children were among the victims in the attack following Ariana Grande’s performance in 2017
- The report will also focus on the radicalization of Manchester-born terrorist Abedi
The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing will today publish its third and final report on whether MI5 and anti-terror police could have stopped the atrocity.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured in a suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.
Between September 7, 2020 and February 15, 2022, evidence was heard in the city about the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the atrocity.
Today, Manchester Arena Inquiry Chairman Sir John Saunders will announce his findings on whether the Salman Abedi terror attack could have been prevented by emergency services.
The report will also focus on the radicalization of Manchester-born Abedi, 22, of Libyan descent, and the planning and preparation of the attack.
Today Manchester Arena Inquiry Chairman Sir John Saunders will announce his findings on whether the Salman Abedi terror attack could have been prevented by emergency services
In March 2014, Abedi became a Subject of Interest (SOI) for MI5 through telephone contact with another SOI, but his case was closed four months later when he was deemed ‘low risk’.
The investigation was told that from December 2013 to January 2017, Abedi was identified as being in direct contact with three SOIs – one suspected of planning trips to Syria, one with ties to Al Qaeda and the third with ties to Libyan extremists.
And between April 2016 and April 2017, he was identified as a second-level contact (a contact of a contact) with three more SOIs, all with suspected ties to the so-called Islamic State terror group.
In the months leading up to the attack, MI5 received two pieces of intelligence on Abedi, but they were assessed for possible non-terrorist crime at the time.
Both pieces of information were not passed on to the police and a later investigation found them to be highly relevant to the planned attack.
Abedi’s name also achieved a “priority indicator” during a separate “data-washing exercise” because it fell within a small number of former SOIs that merited further consideration.
A meeting to discuss the results was scheduled for May 31, 2017, nine days after the bombing.
During the investigation, a number of MI5 witnesses – including a senior officer known as Witness J – and detectives from the North West Counter Terrorism Police gave evidence behind closed doors.
The secret sessions were held so as not to jeopardize national security and the internal workings of MI5 and the anti-terror police.
Abedi blew himself up, killing 22 people at the Manchester site in May 2017 (pictured)
A summary of some of the evidence was later made public, but the ‘core’ did not reveal further details about the intelligence received by M15 in the months leading up to the attack.
The first investigative report from retired Supreme Court Justice Sir John, issued in June 2021, focused on security arrangements at the site. It highlighted a series of “missed opportunities” to identify Abedi as a threat before walking through the City Room foyer and detonating his shrapnel-laden device.
Sir John’s second report last November scathingly criticized the emergency response to the bombing.
He ruled aid worker John Atkinson, 28, would likely have survived had it not been for the night’s failures, while there was an “extreme possibility” that the youngest victim, eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos, could have lived with different treatment and care .
Sir John’s findings and recommendations on radicalization and avoidability will be published on the research website at 2pm.
The report will be sent to Secretary of the Interior Suella Braverman.