UK officials knew about Manchester and London Bridge jihad murderers before attacks, didn’t stop them
Red flags MISSED on UK terror attacks: Manchester bomber was on MI5 radar, email on London Bridge knifeman was lost and Westminster terrorist scoped out scene days before bloody assault,” by Richard Spillett, Mailonline, December 5, 2017:
MI5 was ‘actively’ investigating the ringleader of the London Bridge atrocity at the time of the rampage and the Manchester bombing might have been stopped, a security review has found.
MI5 came by intelligence about Manchester bomber Salman Abedi in the months before his attack killed 22 adults and children outside an Ariana Grande concert, a security review by David Anderson QC revealed.
The information would have caused an investigation into him to be opened ‘had its true significance been properly understood’.
But instead, Abedi was not under active investigation when he detonated his suicide device at Manchester Arena in May, the report disclosed.
The review also revealed that London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt was being actively investigated by security services at the time of his attack and Westminster terrorist Khalid Masood scoped out the bridge days before the attack.
Commenting on the Manchester attack, the report says: ‘It is unknowable whether such an investigation would have allowed Abedi’s plans to be pre-empted and thwarted. MI5 assesses that it would not.’
Abedi was also identified by a separate ‘data-washing exercise’ as falling within a small number of former subjects of interest who merited further consideration.
However, a meeting scheduled to consider the results of this process had not been held at the time of the bombing, in which 22 people were killed.
An opportunity was also missed to place Abedi on ‘ports action’ after he travelled to Libya in April.
The UK’s security services faced questions after dozens of victims were killed or injured in attacks at Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park this year.
MI5 and police launched independent reviews to examine what was known about the terrorists before they struck, decisions made on intelligence and possible areas for improvement.
The review, published today, discloses that three terrorists involved in four attacks that hit Britain between March and June this year had at some point been on authorities ‘ radar.
Khuram Butt, who led the three-strong gang behind the London Bridge van and knife attack in June, was the principal subject of an MI5 investigation from mid-2015 until the date of the deadly assault.
The report says material relating to Butt received in the two weeks prior to the attack added little to the intelligence picture and did not identify activity that led up to the attack.
Another of the London Bridge gang, Youssef Zaghba, was placed on an EU warning list in March last year but a marker which would have automatically identified him as a national security risk was deleted by Italian authorities in January.
In June 2016, MI5 received an inquiry from Italian authorities about Zaghba but the agency has no record of responding – ‘noting by way of possible explanation that it arrived in the incorrect mailbox’.
The request was not chased up by Italian officials.
Zaghba, and the third London Bridge attacker Rachid Redouane, were never investigated by MI5.
The scale of the threat facing the UK was laid bare in today’s report.
It revealed counter-terror teams are running about 500 live investigations involving 3,000 individuals at any one time, while there is also a wider pool of 20,000 subjects previously looked at who must be kept under review.
A total of nine Islamist terrorist plots have been thwarted in the UK over the past year, the director general of MI5 has told Cabinet earlier today.
Outlining the review findings, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the Commons: ‘Based on the MI5 and police reviews, David Anderson explains that in the case of the Westminster attack, Khalid Masood was a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack.
‘Neither MI5 nor the police had any reason to anticipate the attack.
‘Regarding the Manchester Arena attack, Salman Abedi was also a closed subject of interest at the time of the attack, and so not under active investigation.
‘In early 2017, MI5 nonetheless received intelligence on him, which was assessed as not being related to terrorism. In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to be highly relevant.
‘Had an investigation been reopened at the time, it cannot be known whether Abedi’s plans could have been stopped. MI5 assess that it would have been unlikely.
‘Across the attacks, including Manchester Arena, David Anderson notes that MI5 and CT policing got a great deal right.
‘However, in relation to Manchester, he also commented that, quote, ‘it is conceivable that the attack might have been averted had the cards fallen differently’.’…