Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

United Kingdom review: Manchester concert attack might have been stopped

United Kingdom review: Manchester concert attack might have been stopped

The Manchester suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert in May could have been prevented had security services responded differently to intelligence about the terrorist behind the atrocity, according to a review by barrister David Anderson.

Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Tuesday that a government report had concluded it was "conceivable" that security services could have prevented the suicide attack. Anderson's report piggybacked on internal reviews several law enforcement agencies had already conducted. "Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi's plans could have been stopped", Rudd said. More than 500 people were injured. 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 report by David Anderson QC, Britain's former independent reviewer of terror legislation, reviews a series of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom this year and stops short of apportioning blame on MI5 and counter terror police for failing to stop four attacks since March.

The report said that "in retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned 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 in June this year.

"MI5 and counter-terrorism policing got a great deal right - particularly in the case of Manchester, they could have succeeded had the cards fallen differently", Anderson said.

Nine terrorist attacks have been prevented in the United Kingdom in the past year, the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, has told Theresa May's government.

Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton born to Libyan parents, detonated explosives following a concert by USA singer Ariana Grande.

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