Director General of MI5 UK, Ken McCallum, apologizes for failing to prevent a suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester 2017. Photo/REUTERS
LONDON – Director General of MI5 UK, Ken McCallum, apologizes for failing to prevent the attack suicide bomb at a pop concert Ariana Grande in Manchester 2017. The attack left 22 people dead and more than 200 injured.
“Gathering classified intelligence is difficult – but had we managed to capitalize on the slim chance we had, those affected may not have experienced such horrific loss and trauma,” the MI5 boss said in a statement Thursday. (3/3/2023).
John Saunders, chairman of the public inquiry into the tragedy, said he could not say for certain that the bombings could have been prevented.
“But there is a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could be obtained, which might lead to attack countermeasures,” he said.
He said the domestic MI5 spy agency, whose officers he questioned during private audiences, had failed to act quickly enough.
Saunders was speaking after publishing his third and final report on the suicide bombing, the deadliest attack in Britain since the 2005 London transport suicide bombing.
Saunders told a media briefing that there was a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack.
He said he could not give details due to national security concerns, admitting this may have made the victim’s family want to know more.
Richard Scorer, an attorney for 11 bereaved families, said Saunders’ report exposed an unacceptable failure.
“At the very least, the real possibility of preventing this attack is lost. It’s a disastrous conclusion for us,” he said.
The suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, 22, has been known to security services since 2014. According to Saunders, he had visited an influential terrorist who was in prison, and should have been referred to a deradicalization programme.
Abedi’s younger brother, Hashem, was jailed for 55 years in 2020 for encouraging and helping him, while a third brother, Ismail, was convicted in July of his failure to show evidence after fleeing Britain.