A public inquiry into the attack carried out in 2017 at the Manchester Arena, the Manchester building where the concert of the American singer Ariana Grande had just ended, says that the British secret services (MI5) could have foiled the attack. On the evening of May 22, 2017, 22 people died and dozens more were injured in an explosion caused by a suicide bomber as the public – mostly teenagers – was starting to leave the arena. The investigation lasted three years and contains the testimonies of 267 people: he says that MI5 did not act promptly to manage some intelligence information on the bomber, a British citizen, son of Libyan immigrants named Salman Abedi.
Abedi was already known by the British security forces, but no investigation was underway because he was considered only a peripheral figure of Islamist extremism. The attack was later claimed by the Islamic State.
Former judge John Saunders, who headed the inquiry, explained that one of the secret service agents had admitted to receiving some information about Abedi that he had deemed of possible interest to public safety: however, he had not immediately discussed it with colleagues and had not reported it in a report the same day. This, according to Saunders, is a “significant missed opportunity to take actions that could have prevented the attack” at the Manchester Arena. According to Saunders, if the secret services had immediately paid attention to the intelligence information, the agents could have followed Abedi to the car in which he had stored the explosives used for the device he then detonated, or they could have stopped him at the airport four days earlier, when he had returned from a trip to Libya.
In a televised message, MI5 director general Ken McCallum said he was “deeply sorry” that the intelligence services were unable to prevent the attack and that the information was not handled in a timely manner. time.
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