UK security failed to stop Manchester bombing, inquiry finds

The UK’s national security agency missed a “significant opportunity” to stop the suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a 2017 Ariana Grande concert, an inquiry found Thursday.

MI5 could have stopped Salman Abedi if they had acted on information they had received about the 22-year-old terrorist up to four days before the Manchester Arena tragedy.

“I have found a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack,” said retired judge John Saunders, who led the inquiry.

According to Saunders’ findings, one MI5 officer admitted they considered intelligence about Abedi that insinuated he could pose a national security concern, but didn’t discuss it with colleagues quickly enough.

MI5 had declared Abedi a “subject of interest” in 2014, but the agency closed his case after he was deemed to be low-risk.

Despite suspicion, MI5 failed to refer Abedi to the government’s counterterrorism program.

“I have concluded that there was at least a period during Salman Abedi’s journey to violent extremism when he should have been referred,” Saunders said.

Helpers attend to injured people inside the Manchester Arena, Manchester, Britain, after a blast Monday, May 22, 2017.
Helpers attend to injured people inside the Manchester Arena following the bombing.

If MI5 had considered Abedi to be a higher threat, officers could have potentially prevented the bombing — including interfering when he arrived at Manchester Airport from Libya four days before the May 22 bombing.

Abedi — a British-born son of Libyan refugees — detonated a bomb in the arena’s foyer at the close of the concert as thousands were exiting the 21,000-seat venue.

The blast killed twenty-two, including an 8-year-old girl. Abedi also died in the explosion.

Another 237 concertgoers were injured and 670 survivors reported suffering from psychological trauma. “7 Rings” star Grande has also said she suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.

suicide bomber Salman Abedi carrying a rucksack in the lift at Victoria Station in Manchester.
MI5 missed a “significant opportunity” to stop suicide bomber Salman Abedi before the attack, an inquiry found.
Manchester Arena Inquiry /AFP via Getty Images

His brother, Hashem Abedi, was convicted in 2020 for helping to plan the terrorist attack. He is serving a 55-year sentence.

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum admitted to the agency’s failings Thursday and said he was “profoundly sorry” for allowing Abedi to slip through the cracks.

“I deeply regret that such intelligence was not obtained,” McCallum said.

People stop by a mass of flowers to observe a minute's silence in St Ann's Square in Manchester, northwest England
Twenty-two people were killed, 237 were injured and 670 survivors suffer from psychological trauma.
AFP via Getty Images

“Gathering covert intelligence is difficult but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma.”

Those affected by the tragic bombing are left unsatisfied with the apology, however.

Caroline Curry, who lost her 19-year-old son Liam in the bombing, said she couldn’t forgive MI5 for their failings.

Armed police block a road near to the Manchester Arena in central Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
MI5 officials apologized for failing to stop the tragic attack.

“From top to bottom, MI5 to the associates of the attacker, we will always believe you all played a part in the murder of our children,” she said.

With Post Wires