The Hamilton Spectator
MI5 lost chance to stop concert attack, inquiry finds
LONDON Britain’s domestic intelligence agency didn’t act swiftly enough on key information and missed a significant opportunity to prevent the suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a 2017 Ariana Grande concert in northwest England, an inquiry found Thursday.
Retired judge John Saunders, who led the inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack, said that one MI5 officer admitted they considered intelligence about suicide bomber Salman Abedi to be a possible national security concern but didn’t discuss it with colleagues quickly enough.
“I have found a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack,” Saunders said.
In a rare televised statement, MI5 Director General Ken McCallum, who normally keeps a low public profile, said he was “profoundly sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack.”
“Gathering covert intelligence is difficult, but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma,” McCallum said.
Abedi, 22, set off a knapsack bomb in the arena’s foyer at the end of the May 22, 2017 concert, as thousands of young fans, including many children, were leaving the pop star’s show. More than 100 people were injured. Abedi died in the explosion. His brother, Hashem Abedi, was convicted in 2020 of helping to plan and carry out the attack. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Saunders said MI5 had acted on the intelligence it received, it could have led to action — including potentially stopping Abedi at the airport before the attack.