MANCHESTER CLUES MISSED?
M15 spy agency looking at whether warnings of attack were ignored
ABELL tolled here on Monday at the exact time when a suicide bomber struck a week before outside a teenage pop concert, killing 22 people, as Britain’s i ntelligence agency questioned whether vital clues had been missed.
Hundreds braved the rain in the northwest English city for a silent vigil at 2131 GMT amid floral tributes, candles and teddy bears to honour the victims, who included six children.
As the number of people detained in Britain rose to 14, following an arrest early Monday morning, police released new CCTV images of 22-year-old attacker Salman Abedi carrying a large suitcase and appealed for information about the luggage.
Police also revealed Abedi’s petty criminal past yesterday.
The authorities said he had appeared in police records over theft, receiving stolen goods and assault in 2012, but was never flagged up for any radical views.
Abedi detonated his bomb just after the end of a concert by United States pop star Ariana Grande in one of Europe’s biggest indoor arenas in central Manchester. Many of the victims were either young concert-goers or parents waiting to take their children home.
A total of 116 people were injured in the attack, by Manchester-born Abedi, a university dropout of Libyan origin, 19 of whom remain in critical condition.
The I slamic State jihadist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
“You tried to destroy us but you’ve brought us closer together,” read one message of defiance left among the tributes in central Manchester, which i ncluded heart-shaped balloons and runners’ bibs left by participants in a half-marathon on Sunday.
Investigators pushed ahead with their probe. Police could be seen conducting a search at a rubbish tip near Manchester and they released images of Abedi carrying a blue suitcase hours before the attack, asking the public where and when they might have seen him with it in the preceding days.
“We have no reason to believe the case and its contents contain anything dangerous, but would ask people to be cautious,” the police said in a statement, stressing that the suitcase was different from the backpack Abedi used in the attack.
Abedi is believed to have returned from a trip to Libya a few days before the bombing and had also recently transited through airports in Istanbul and Dusseldorf in Germany.
The latest person held was a 23-year-old man arrested in the southern coastal town of Shoreham-by-Sea, more than 400km from here.
Fourteen men are detained on UK soil in the investigation, while Abedi’s father and brother have been held in Libya, where officials said the two brothers were IS jihadists.
None of the men arrested in Britain have been charged with any crime and police have up to 14 days in which to do so under anti-terrorism laws.
Amid mounting criticism of the security services, the domestic intelligence agency MI5 is looking at decisions taken in the case of Abedi, who used to be on a terror watchlist but was no longer on it at the time of the attack, and whether warnings about his behaviour were ignored.