MI5 chief publicly apologizes for failing to stop brutality at Manchester Arena

Director General Ken McCallum makes rare public statement after investigation finds ‘minor’ chances security forces could have prevented 2017 bombings

MI5 Director Ken McCallum has publicly apologized for the security services’ failure to stop the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.

In a rare public statement, the director-general acknowledged that MI5 failed to seize the “little” chance it had to stop the 2017 airstrike that claimed the lives of 22 people.

Hundreds of others were injured in attacks carried out by suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

Thursday’s investigation found that if MI5 had acted on information received months before the attack, two pieces of information about Abedi would have been assessed by security services as not linked to terrorism at the time. , it turns out that the bombing could have been prevented.

But Sir John Saunders, chairman of the inquiry, said he had heard from MI5 witnesses in secret hearings and thought it did not present an “accurate picture”.

Following the findings, McCollum publicly apologized for the identified failures and claimed that improvements had been made.

Speaking in Manchester on Thursday, he said:

“I deeply regret not having received such information.

“Secret information is difficult to gather, but had the slightest chance been seized, those affected may not have experienced such horrific loss and trauma. MI5 We deeply apologize for our failure to stop the attack.”

Neither MI5 nor the Interior Ministry have disclosed whether anyone in the security service has been disciplined.

manchester arena bomber
CCTV image of Salman Abedi at Victoria Station. In May, in Manchester, England, he headed to his Manchester arena where he detonated a bomb. 22, 2017. (Handout via Greater Manchester Police/PA)

lost opportunity

On Thursday, an MI5 officer acknowledged an investigation into possible pressing national security concerns regarding one of the intelligence operations surrounding Abedi, but did not immediately discuss it with his colleagues. I heard that they did not produce a report on the same. Day.

Sir John states in his 207 page report:

“Based on everything the Security Service knew or should have known, we are pleased that such investigative action was appropriate and justified. This should have happened.”

He said that if information was tracked soon, Abedi, 22, would be tracked to a parked Nissan Micra, where he would store explosives, before moving to a rented city center apartment to assemble. He said it might have been possible.

The chairman added that Abedi, who had returned from Libya four days before the attack, could also have been stopped at Manchester airport.

Questions also remain about Abedi’s connection to the late Muslim preacher Mansur al-Anej, who visited him before his death.

The investigative report lists him as an associate of Abedi who was arrested as part of the investigation into Nicky Riley, the failed Exeter suicide bomber in 2008.

Abedi and his brother Hashem were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for aiding the Manchester Arena conspiracy, according to the findings, but had “contacts” with Al-Anej between October 2016 and January 2017. and the two attended his funeral.

Details of the relationship were “unclear,” but police said they considered it a “material connection.”

Earlier this week, reported by the BBC al-Anezi was suspected by MI5 of radicalizing people over a decade ago. It is unclear whether the investigation considered unconfirmed reports, according to PA.

Epoch Times photo
Salman Abedi is pictured in an undated handout image (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

Considered “Low Risk”

Abedi was recorded as a Subject of Interest (SOI) in 2014 and investigated by MI5, but was later deemed ‘low risk’.

He was identified six times as a contact with suspected militants between 2013 and 2017.

The Security Service investigates approximately 3,000 active SOIs and conducts approximately 600 live investigations at any given time when it believes someone may pose a threat. A significant number of SOIs are located overseas.

They are ranked by priority and allocated resources according to their level of threat.

If they are no longer considered to pose a threat, they will be downgraded and marked as “closed” SOI, joining the list of some 40,000 people who have been probed at one point in time.

McCollum didn’t ask questions about the findings, but in a recorded statement said that since the attacks, MI5 has made “continuous” efforts to better fight terrorism, resulting in “more than 100 improvements.” He said that he performed

The Counter-Terrorism Operations Center (CTOC), which opened in June 2021, is seen as a major step forward in its mission to bring together police, intelligence agencies, government departments, and other elements of the criminal justice system involved in crime. The authorities think First anti-terrorist operation in one place.

The move was meant to speed up threat response and improve how terrorists are monitored.

MI5 will be “fully involved” in recommending the investigation, McCallum said, adding: “If there is an opportunity to further strengthen Britain’s defenses, MI5 will act. We will do everything in our power to protect the country from hidden threats.”

Describing the attack as a “horrible tragedy”, McCallum said his thoughts are with “the families and friends of those killed and all those whose lives have been changed by this horrific act of terrorism”.

“MI5 exists to stop atrocities. To all whose lives were changed forever on that horrific night: We are so sorry that MI5 was unable to stop the attack on the Manchester Arena. I will,” he added.

Epoch Times photo
An undated file photo of 22 victims of the terrorist attack at Ariana Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena in May 2017. (Handout via Greater Manchester Police/PA)


“We hope that lessons can be learned,” the family said after the report was released on Thursday.

Andrew Roussos, whose 8-year-old daughter Saffy Rose died in the explosion, said:

“We all heard the evidence and knew there was a failure, but hearing how this tragedy was averted is devastating for all of us.

“It was a devastating failure and it is clear from all the evidence we have heard about Abedi that the security forces had many opportunities to prevent the bombing from happening.

“In my view, the fact that MI5 was unable to stop him despite all the red flags available to them indicates that they were unfit to keep us safe and therefore unfit for the purpose. shows.”

The parents of South Shields natives Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19, also expressed their outrage at the security service.

Curry’s mother said, “Those involved in the murder of our children will never be forgiven. From top to bottom, from MI5 to the attacker’s associates, you are all responsible for the murder of our children.” I have always believed that I was involved in

Counter-terrorism police chief Matt Jukes promised to “act quickly” based on the results of the investigation, saying officers “are relentless in our work to keep the public safe.” ” he claimed.

he said: [with MI5]we didn’t stop the loss of life, injury and trauma that happened near here almost 6 years ago.

“I want those who have lost loved ones to know that their loss will help ensure our counter-terrorism partnership is stronger, faster and more effective. It was.”

MI5 and police have thwarted at least 37 late-stage terrorist attack plots since early 2017.

Secretary of the Interior Suella Braverman said: Together we will do everything possible to prevent a repeat of this horrific attack. ”

Security Minister Tom Tugenhut said he shared the “sadness” expressed by MI5, adding:

PA contributed to this report.