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Manchester terror attack could have been prevented suggests official report for the government

Mirror logo Mirror 6 days ago Dan Bloom

Salman Abedi on the night he carried out the Manchester Arena terror attack © PA/Police handout Salman Abedi on the night he carried out the Manchester Arena terror attack MI5 might have been able to prevent the Manchester Arena terror attack "had the cards fallen differently", an official review for the government has found.

The security agency received intelligence on suicide bomber Salman Abedi in early 2017 - before he slaughtered 22 people at an Ariana Grande gig on May 22.

It did not consider the intelligence terror-related at the time but now admits it was "highly relevant".

CCTV still of Salman Abedi, the bomber in the Manchester Arena terror attack © PA CCTV still of Salman Abedi, the bomber in the Manchester Arena terror attack If it had opened a new investigation into Abedi, ministers said, it is not possible to say if he would have succeeded in his attack.

The finding came in an inquiry by government terrorism advisor David Anderson QC after attacks rocked London and Manchester this year.

Much of the report will be kept secret to protect national security.

Manchester Arena blast in pictures (Photos)

Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with a nurse during a visit to the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital on May 25, 2017 in Manchester, England.  Queen Elizabeth visited the hospital to meet victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack and to thank members of staff who treated them. Manchester Arena blast

But summarising the findings, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told MPs: "Salman Abedi was a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack, and so not under active investigation.

"In early 2017 MI5 nonetheless received intelligence on him, which was assessed as not being related to terrorism.

"In retrospect the intelligence can be seen to be highly relevant."

Manchester attack benefit concert © PA Manchester attack benefit concert She said Mr Anderson concluded MI5 “got a great deal right” but in relation to Manchester, "it is conceivable that the attack might have been averted had the cards fallen differently."

The Home Secretary added: "Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known if Abedi’s plans could have been stopped. "MI5 assess that it would have been unlikely." Mr Anderson's concludes that overall there is "no cause for despair", saying most attacks continue to be successfully disrupted.

But he notes that, other than the case of Finsbury Park, it cannot be said that MI5 and police were "entirely blindsided".

The report says: "Substantial and appropriate coverage was in place around key individuals and mechanisms designed to assess risk were working as intended.

"MI5 and counter-terrorism policing got a great deal right: particularly in the case of Manchester, they could have succeeded had the cards fallen differently."

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