by Oleg Burunov
At least 22 people were killed and 250 more injured after suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a device in the foyer of the Manchester Arena moments after an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017.
The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing has heard that suicide bomber Salman Abedi was brought to MI5’s attention on at least 18 separate occasions before the 2017 terrorist attack.
It emerged on Wednesday that MI5 received their first alert about 22-year-old Abedi in 2010. He was made a security service “subject of interest” (SOI) in 2014, but his file was dropped four months later, “based on his lack of engagement with individuals of interest” to MI5.
The public inquiry also heard that the Manchester bomber was identified associating with six SOIs, including a man who was previously linked to al-Qaeda* and who had been investigated over his efforts to help extremists travel to Syria.
Additionally, Abedi was identified as a “second level” contact of three SOIs suspected of providing support or recruitment for Daesh* in Syria or Libya.
MI5 said that it “understands that there will be people who doubt that it has disclosed everything” related to the probe into the deadly Manchester Arena bombing.
Cathryn McGahey QC, representing the Home Office, for her part, said that “the very nature of MI5’s work is secretive and the fact that we cannot make everything public inevitably increases suspicion”. At the same time, she added that “there is no question of secrecy bring used to conceal failure”.
The remarks came after the Manchester Arena bombing public inquiry began last month, with a lawyer suggesting that there were possibly “missed opportunities” to stop the suicide bomber.
The inquiry, chaired by Sir John Saunders, aims to “explore the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the terror attack” and whether the bombing could have been prevented.
In August, the Manchester bomber’s brother, Hashem Abedi, 23, was jailed for life and was given a record minimum term of 55 years after being convicted of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder, and conspiring to cause explosions.
Hashem Abedi was extradited from Libya, where he had fled shortly before his brother carried out the 22 May 2017 attack which killed at least 22 people and injured 250 more.
Al-Qaeda, Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), terrorist groups banned in Russia and a number of other countries