Manchester Arena bombing: MI5 officer accepts ‘different actions would have stopped plot’

6 months ago 96

A elder MI5 serviceman has accepted that stopping and questioning the Manchester Arena terrorist, Salman Abedi, erstwhile helium returned to the UK from Libya could person led constabulary to the bomb.

The enquiry being held into the atrocity, which killed 22 concertgoers and injured hundreds of others, was proceeding grounds from an quality serviceman fixed the pseudonym Witness J.

Visible lone to lawyers and enquiry seat Sir John Saunders, Witness J said it was conceivable that antithetic actions would person prevented Abedi carrying retired the plot.

Abedi was calved successful Manchester to Libyan parents who fled the state aft becoming opponents of Colonel Gaddafi.

Pete Weatherby QC, representing immoderate of the bereaved families, said Abedi had near the UK with his household connected a 1 mode summons to Libya connected 15 April 2017.

He returned 5 weeks aboriginal carrying lone manus luggage, 4 days earlier carrying retired the termination bombing astatine an Ariana Grande concert.

The enquiry heard Abedi bought a caller telephone and sim paper and took “anti-surveillance” measures to enactment “off grid” by getting a autobus and taxi to wherever helium had near the weaponry components

Weatherby said a “port stop” oregon “port action”, wherever idiosyncratic is questioned and searched, could person revealed Abedi’s plans by thing helium said oregon thing being uncovered connected his phone.

“It’s surely imaginable you would person observed somewhat antithetic behaviour astatine the airdrome past followed it connected and, arsenic I say, helium would person led you to the bomb.

“If helium had been stopped by police, putting that together, there’s a accidental it would person stopped him carrying retired the plot?”

Witness J replied: “Conceivably, yes.” But helium added: “To connection immoderate context, for us, oregon the constabulary successful combination, to travel the way would person required america to beryllium moving a precise precocious precedence investigation.

“It would necessitate astir surely surveillance, usually allocated precocious precedence investigations.

“We had fragments of what we cognize now. We had a blurred representation astatine that clip and we did not reason we had quality related to onslaught planning.”

On Monday Witness J had agreed that not stopping Abedi, taking a larboard action, had been a missed opportunity. He said: “Yes, I deliberation that would person been the amended people of enactment based connected the accusation we had astatine the time.”

The MI5 officer, giving grounds from wrong a specially built woody box, said post-attack reviews concluded a “successful pre-emption of the onslaught would person been unlikely.”

He added: “I enactment that judgement due to the fact that I person seen the material. The readying was good nether mode by the clip helium went to Libya.”

Saunders said helium would beryllium “looking critically” astatine the contented during closed hearings, wherever families of the bereaved, their lawyers and the property volition beryllium excluded portion matters of nationalist information are examined.

The proceeding has heard that Abedi was a closed taxable of involvement (SOI) for MI5 astatine the clip of the bombing, meaning helium was not nether investigation. He was 1 of 20,000 specified closed SOIs with the information services besides having 3,000 progressive SOIs connected its radar.

In 2017, the enquiry has heard, MI5 was moving astir 500 investigations into individuals oregon organisations associated with Islamic terrorism, a standard described arsenic “unprecedented successful presumption of the fig of existent investigations and fig of subjects of interest”.

The enquiry is looking astatine each the inheritance to the attack, which was carried retired by Abedi with the assistance of his younger brother, Hashem, who was jailed for beingness for his portion successful the plot.

The proceeding continues.