Saturday, 17 February, 2018

Manchester Arena terror attack could have been prevented, says new report

Nine Terror Attacks Prevented In UK During The Past Year, MI5 reveals Manchester Arena bombing could've been avoided
Melinda Barton | 05 December, 2017, 19:06

The attack on the Manchester Arena that killed 22 people in March could have been stopped if MI5 had investigated intelligence it had on the bomber, according to a major government report.

The deadly suicide bombing at Manchester Arena might have been prevented if information had been handled differently, an independent review of the counter-terrorism performance by British police and intelligence services suggested Tuesday.

In a Commons statement, home secretary Amber Rudd said: "In early 2017, MI5 nonetheless received intelligence on [Abedi], which was assessed as not being related to terrorism".

Two pieces of intelligence were dismissed as "not terror-related" in the run-up to the attack, and MI5 missed the chance to issue a notice that would have triggered an alert when the bomber, Salman Abedi, re-entered the United Kingdom from Libya four days before the bombing, says The Independent. Law enforcement had become aware of new information about Abedi months before the attack, but the "significance was not fully appreciated at the time", and the investigations were dropped.

The former Barrister studied internal reviews of MI5 and counter-terror police's handling of intelligence prior to the four terror attacks.

MI5 had plans to revaluate Abedi as a person of interest, but the Manchester attack took place before he was reexamined. Khalid Masood was investigated before he undertook a March 22 attack on and around Westminster Bridge.

While "investigative actions were for the most part sound", the report says, "it is conceivable that the Manchester attack. might have been averted had the cards fallen differently".

It comes shortly after Andrew Parker, the director general of MI5, briefed the government and told them that up to nine planned terrorist attacks had been foiled in the United Kingdom during the past year.