Manchester Arena attack ‘could have been stopped’

Police lay flowers after the Manchester Arena attackImage copyright

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Police lay flowers after the Manchester Arena attack

The Manchester Arena bomber had been a “subject of interest” and opportunities to stop him were missed, a report says.

Its author, David Anderson QC, said it was conceivable the attack by Salman Abedi in May could have been avoided had “cards fallen differently”.

After the bombing, which left 22 people dead, and three terror attacks in London this year, counter-terror police and MI5 conducted internal reviews.

The Met Police said better resources and infrastructures were needed.

The major internal reviews, which remain largely secret, are summarised in Mr Anderson’s report, and show:

  • The Manchester bomber Salman Abedi had been a “Subject of Interest” for MI5 – meaning someone they were investigating – between January and July 2014, and then again in October 2015
  • On two occasions in the months before Abedi killed 22 people, MI5 received intelligence, but its significance was not fully appreciated at the time and, in hindsight, was “highly relevant” to the planned attack
  • There was no security service port alert against Salman Abedi, so he was not questioned at the border when he returned to the UK from Libya four days before the attack
  • The two other attackers who had been on MI5’s radar were Khuram Butt, who attacked at London Bridge and Borough Market, and Khalid Masood on Westminster Bridge

Mr Anderson, a former independent reviewer of terror legislation, said: “Despite elevated threat levels, the fundamentals are sound and the great majority of attacks continue to be thwarted.

“But the shock of these incidents has prompted intensive reflection and a commitment to significant change.

“In particular, MI5 and the police have identified the need to use data more effectively, to share knowledge more widely, to improve their own collaboration and to assess and investigate terrorist threats on a uniform basis, whatever the ideology that inspires them.”

Terror attacks this year

The home secretary said nine terror attacks have been prevented in the UK since the Westminster attack in March.

The current threat level for terrorism in the UK is severe, meaning an attack is highly likely,

Manchester Arena attack ‘could have been stopped’

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