Abedi Should Have Been Identified as Threat on Night of Terror Attack, Lives Could’ve Been Saved, Finds Inquiry

People grieve during a silence at 10:31pm, the exact one year anniversary of the deadly attack at Manchester Arena, central Manchester on May 22, 2018. - Prime Minister Theresa May and Prince William will on May 22, 2018 join families of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing at a …
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The chairman of the inquiry into the 2017 Islamist terror attack in Manchester has criticised authorities in charge of the security at the arena, saying that Salman Abedi should have been identified as a threat on the night of the attack, and that while Abedi would likely still have detonated his suicide bomb, many more lives would have been saved with early intervention.

Sir John Saunders condemned the British Transport Police (BTP), Manchester Arena’s operators SMG, security contractors Showsec, and even singled out individuals for their failures to assess Abedi even after members of the public had raised concerns.

Abedi, the 22-year-old son of Libyan refugees, detonated a suicide bomb on May 22nd, 2017, in the foyer of the arena as concert-goers were leaving the theatre, killing 22 victims and injuring hundreds of others.

The inquiry found that BTP had “no satisfactory explanation” for why there was no officer present at the end of the concert, according to findings reported by the BBC. The inquiry had earlier heard that two BTP officers had taken a two-hour dinner break, leaving Abedi free to enter the arena wearing a large, suspicious backpack without being searched.

SMG was aware for years there was an area of the foyer that was a CCTV blindspot, but had not sought to improve the area’s security. The blindspot meant that for an hour, Abedi was able to able to hide and carry out a “hostile reconnaissance” without alerting the suspicions of those operating the camera system.

One security guard admitted that despite being concerned about Abedi he did not approach him for fear of being considered racist. The inquiry also heard the guard had attempted to radio the control room after suspicions were raised about Abedi. He could not get through and then left the foyer “unconcerned”.

Fifteen minutes before the deadly explosion, Christopher Wild, who had gone to the arena with his partner to pick up her daughter, had reported Abedi to Showsec stewards, but had been “fobbed off” in what Sir John called “the most striking missed opportunity”. Showsec also failed to perform a security walk 30 minutes before the explosion.

Sir John said on Thursday: “The security arrangements for the Manchester Arena… should have prevented or minimised the devastating impact of the attack. They failed to do so.

“There were a number of opportunities which were missed leading to this failure.

“Salman Abedi should have been identified on 22 May 2017 as a threat by those responsible for the security of the arena and a disruptive intervention undertaken.

“Had that occurred, I consider it likely that Abedi would still have detonated his device, but the loss of life and injury is highly likely to have been less.”

The litany of failures regarding the security of the Manchester arena attack comes weeks after another inquiry into the 2019 London Bridge terror attack likewise concluded that almost every level of security had failed to stop attacker Usman Khan, who stabbed Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt to death, with the inquest condemning the police, probation services, and MI5.

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