British spy agency concludes terror attack at Manchester Arena could have been prevented

(Image credit: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

The perpetrator of the Manchester Arena bombing had been on British spy agency MI5's radar for years, The Telegraph reported Friday. An internal review of British law enforcement discovered that Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old suicide bomber who killed 22 people when he detonated explosives at the concert venue in May, accidentally became a "subject of interest" for MI5 in a case of mistaken identity in 2014.

Abedi was apparently enough of a concern, however, that his case was going to be up for reconsideration at a meeting scheduled for May 31 — just nine days after he carried out his attack.

MI5 had twice decided that pieces of intelligence received on Abedi were not related to terrorism, and his case was closed. But he eventually reappeared on the agency's radar as someone who "merited further examination," The Telegraph reports. The internal review, mandated by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, deemed MI5's decision not to reopen an investigation on Abedi "reasonable," but said the Manchester attack could have been preventable "had the cards fallen differently."

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The review also revealed that two of perpetrators of other attacks in the U.K. — the Westminster Bridge attack in March and the London Bridge attack in June — were previously known to MI5. Khurram Butt, one of the London Bridge attackers, was the "principal subject" of an investigation, but MI5 apparently decided that he was more interested in fighting in the Middle East on the behalf of the Islamic State than in attacking the homeland.

Read more at The Telegraph.

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Kelly O'Meara Morales

Kelly O'Meara Morales is a staff writer at The Week. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and studied Middle Eastern history and nonfiction writing amongst other esoteric subjects. When not compulsively checking Twitter, he writes and records music, subsists on tacos, and watches basketball.