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UK security chief “sorry” for failing to prevent 2017 Manchester bombing



UK security chief 'sorry' for failing to prevent 2017 Manchester bombing

The security agency knew the attacker, 22-year-old Salman Abadi, since 2014


The head of Britain’s security services said on Thursday he was deeply saddened that his detectives had missed a “vital” opportunity to prevent a deadly 2017 suicide bombing at the end of an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester.

Twenty-two people were killed and more than 200 were injured after a man detonated a bomb he had planted in his home at Manchester Arena in northern England.

John Saunders, chairman of a public inquiry into the tragedy, said that he could not say with certainty that the bombing could have been prevented, but that “there was a real possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained that would have led to action”. could have been stopped.” attack”.

He said the domestic MI5 spy agency, whose officers he questioned during the private hearing, had failed to act swiftly. Saunders spoke after the publication of his third and final report into the bombings, the deadliest in Britain since the 2005 London transport suicide attacks.

MI5 Director General Ken McCallum said he was “deeply sorry” that his service did not prevent the attack.

“Gathering covert intelligence is difficult – but if we had managed to seize the little opportunity we have, those affected would not have experienced such horrific loss and trauma,” he said in a statement.

John Saunders told a media conference that “a vital opportunity was missed to take action that could have stopped the attack.” He said he was unable to provide details due to national security concerns, acknowledging that the families of the victims may wish to know more.

‘failed in so many of its duties’

Richard Schorer, a lawyer for the 11 bereaved families, said the Saunders report exposed “unacceptable” failures.

“At the very least, a real possibility of preventing this attack was lost. This is a devastating conclusion for us,” he said.

John Saunders said the bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abidi, was known to the security agency since 2014, had met an influential terrorist in prison, and should have been sent to a de-radicalisation programme.

Abidi’s younger brother Hashem was jailed for 55 years in 2020 for encouraging and helping him, while a third, older brother, Ismail, pleaded guilty in July for failing to attend the investigation to give evidence who had fled Britain.

The brothers were born to Libyan parents who had moved to Britain during the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Interior Minister Suella Braverman said she would, together with the agency and police, “do everything possible to prevent a repetition of this horrific attack.”

Two previous reports by John Saunders also highlighted other shortcomings and mistakes made in the response by security and emergency services at the site, stating that one victim might have survived if it had not been so faulty.

Relatives of some of the victims said they could never forgive those who let their loved ones down.

“From top to bottom – MI5 to the attacker’s colleagues – we will always believe that you all played a part in the murder of our children,” said Caroline Currie, the mother of a teenage boy who died alongside his 17-year-old friend.

“So many people were being paid to protect our children that night, and yet so many failed in their duties.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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