U.K. Spy Agency Missed Chance to Stop Manchester Bombing, Inquiry Finds

An inquiry into the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing concluded on Thursday that there had been a “significant missed opportunity” by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency to take action that might have prevented the attack, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds more after an Ariana Grande concert.

The report said the agency, MI5, had failed to act on two key pieces of intelligence on Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old suicide bomber, in the months leading up to the attack.

The inquiry’s final report on the atrocity, the deadliest terrorist attack in Britain since the 2005 London bombings, also identified problems with the sharing of information between MI5 and counterterrorism police, and found that Mr. Abedi had likely received assistance from someone in Libya. It was the first time there had been any official conclusion regarding possible help from abroad, although the inquiry was unable to conclude who might have provided it.

For months, the inquiry has listened to the security services as they outlined their timeline of events and provided evidence. Much of the information was given behind closed doors for reasons of national security.

The independent inquiry, which was set up by the government in September 2020, had already published a scathing report on failings by the emergency services on the night of the attack. That report concluded the response had been “far below the standard it should have been” and that two of the victims could have survived had there not been an “interminable” wait for treatment.

Sir John Saunders, the chair of the public inquiry, observed a minute of silence before he began speaking, with pictures of the smiling faces of the dead alongside him.

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