Manchester bombing 'might have been averted'

Manchester bombing 'might have been averted'

Police vehicles are seen outside the Manchester Arena, where US singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, northern England, May 23, 2017.

The domestic security agency had planned to discuss the threat posed by Abedi during a meeting on May 31 - but he detonated his explosives at the Manchester Arena nine days earlier.

But he said it was "unknowable" whether such an investigation into Abedi would have thwarted his plans, adding: "MI5 assesses that it would not".

"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", Anderson said.

Two pieces of intelligence were dismissed as "not terror-related" in the run-up to the attack, and MI5 missed the chance to issue a notice that would have triggered an alert when the bomber, Salman Abedi, re-entered the United Kingdom from Libya four days before the bombing, says The Independent.

The four attacks killed a total of 36 people and wounded 200 others.

The deadly suicide bombing at Manchester Arena might have been prevented if information had been handled differently, an independent review of the counter-terrorism performance by British police and intelligence services suggested Tuesday.

Anderson said that, while he cannot prove if the attack could have been stopped, it "might have been averted had the cards fallen differently".

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The report said that "in retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned attack".

The review found that Abedi was one of a small group of former suspects of interest whom Britain's security services were considering investigating further.

Abedi was actively investigated in January 2014, but the investigation was closed and he was deemed to have "low residual risk" due to his "limited engagement with persons of national security concern".

It found an opportunity was missed by MI5 to place Abedi on "ports action" after he travelled to Libya in April 2017, which would have triggered an alert when he returned and allowed him to be questioned and searched at the airport.

A review three of six attackers "were on MI5's radar".

The report also reveals that the London Bridge atrocity mastermind was under "active investigation" and had been watched by MI5 and police since 2015.

He was placed under extensive surveillance, but authorities eventually deemed his focus to have moved away from attacking the United Kingdom and toward traveling overseas to fight for ISIS.

"The excellent recent record of MI5 and police in defending the United Kingdom from terrorist attack came to a brutal end this year at Westminster, Manchester Arena, London Bridge and Finsbury Park", Anderson said.

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