Manchester Terrorist Might Have Been Averted, U.K. Review Finds

  • U.K. spies, police thwarted nine terror attacks in last year
  • Home secretary pledges more resources to target far-right

A police officer stands near a cordon near the Manchester Arena after the attack on May 23, 2017. 

Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

The Manchester bombings that shocked Britain during the election campaign could have been avoided.

That was the conclusion of an official report into how British police and security responded to intelligence tips about upcoming plots. The Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi was a former “subject of interest” known to the British security services and it is “conceivable” the attack “might have been averted had the cards fallen differently,” according to its findings.

On May 22, Abedi murdered 22 and maimed hundreds in a homemade-bomb attack on a pop concert in the northern city. He was not under active investigation at the time of the attack.

“In early 2017, MI5 nonetheless received intelligence on him, which was assessed as not being related to terrorism,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd told lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday as she lay out the findings.

“In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to be highly relevant,” she said. “Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi’s plans could have been stopped.”

Rudd also told lawmakers more resources would be allocated to tackling the growing threat from far-right extremists. Earlier Tuesday the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, told Theresa May’s Cabinet that nine potential terrorist attacks had been thwarted in the last year.

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