The terror attack at Manchester Arena in May could have potentially been prevented, an official report has found.
On May 22, suicide bomber Salman Abedi killed himself and 22 others in an attack on an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. Around 500 people were injured.
A new report has now been published, looking at four terror attacks taking place in the UK between March and June this year, covering the attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
The report, overseen by MI5 director general Andrew Parker, found that the security agency had received intelligence “not appreciated at the time” about Abedi and that the Manchester attack could have possibly been prevented if different decisions had been taken by MI5.
Parker said that intelligence regarding Abedi was thought to involve possible gang activity rather than terrorism, admitting that Abedi should have been stopped at the airport when he returned to the UK from Libya.
“It is conceivable that the Manchester attacks in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently,” Parker went on to say.
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 5, 2017
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. In retrospect the intelligence can be seen to be highly relevant. Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi’s plans could have been stopped. MI5 assesses that it would have been unlikely.”
The shadow home secretary, Labour’s Diane Abbott, meanwhile has expressed concern that Abedi had not been under active investigation by MI5.
Manchester Arena reopened in September with a gig from Noel Gallagher, The Courteeners, Blossoms and more. A tribute concert was held earlier in June, featuring performances form Ariana Grande, Liam Gallagher, Coldplay and others.