MI5 failed to track Manchester bomber

MPs have reported that MI5 made a mistake in failing to track the 2017 Manchester Arena bomber.

A new report from the Intelligence and Security Committee claims that MI5 have recognised it had moved ‘too slowly’ to establish how dangerous the 22-year-old Salman Abedi really was.

During 2017, the UK suffered five serious terrorist attacks at Westminster, Manchester Arena,
London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green. Thirty-six lives were lost in total, 22 in the Manchester bombing.

The MP’s report says that the security service had cause to monitor Abedi's return to the UK from Libya days before the attack on Manchester Arena.

Concerning Abedi, the report says that he visited an extremist contact in prison on more than one occasion, however no follow-up action was taken by either MI5 or Counter Terror Policing. Furthermore, MI5 decided not to place travel monitoring or travel restrictions on Abedi which allowed him to return undetected to the UK in the days immediately before he carried out his attack.

MPs also emphasise how the case highlights deficiencies in MI5’s system for monitoring individuals of interest not currently under active investigation. The question of how ‘Closed’ or ‘Peripheral’ Subjects of Interest are managed is ‘a crucial issue which has been the subject of previous recommendations by the committee’. It says that planned improvements must now be prioritised.

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