Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 3: Key Findings
2 March 2023
The Manchester Arena Inquiry has published its third report which focuses on the radicalisation of the bomber Salman Abedi, the planning and preparation of the attack and how the attack might have been prevented.
Within the report The Inquiry Chair, Sir John Saunders, highlights key findings in five areas which we have summarised below.
Key findings: Preventing the Attack
- There was a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the Attack. It is not possible to reach any conclusion on the balance of probabilities or to any other evidential standard as to whether the Attack would have been prevented. However, there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained which might have led to actions preventing the Attack.
- The reasons for this significant missed opportunity included a failure by a Security Service officer to act swiftly enough.
- The Inquiry has also identified problems with the sharing of information between the Security Service and Counter Terrorism Policing, although none of these problems is likely to have had any causative significance.
Key findings: Radicalisation of Salman Abedi into Islamist extremism
- Salman Abedi’s radicalisation journey into operational violent Islamist extremism was primarily driven by noxious absences and malign presences. Noxious absences included a prolonged disengagement from mainstream English education and parental absence. Malign presences included the ongoing conflict in Libya and engagement with a radicalising peer group.
Key findings: Influences on Salman Abedi
- The Abedi family holds significant responsibility for the radicalisation of Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi. That includes their father Ramadan Abedi, mother Samia Tabbal and elder brother Ismail Abedi, each of whom has held extremist views. Their views influenced the development of Salman Abedi’s and Hashem Abedi’s worldviews. It is also likely that Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi fed off each other’s ideas and radicalised each other.
- Ramadan Abedi took his sons to Libya during the period of conflict. It is likely that Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi were involved in combat there. It is probable that Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi were radicalised in Libya to some extent and that they obtained some form of training or assistance in how to build a bomb in Libya, as well as counter surveillance training.
- Salman Abedi’s worldview was also influenced by his peer group. Abdalraouf Abdallah was a key figure. Abdalraouf Abdallah was seriously injured while fighting in Libya as a member of the February 17th Martyrs Brigade. He returned to Manchester with a hero status among impressionable young men from a Muslim background who were susceptible to Islamic State propaganda.
- Abdalraouf Abdallah has held extremist views and been convicted of terrorism offences. He had a significant relationship with Salman Abedi between 2014 and 2017 and had an important role in radicalising him.
- Raphael Hostey, who travelled to Syria from Manchester to join Islamic State and was killed in a drone strike, is also likely to have been an influence on Salman Abedi.
Key findings: Institutions with which Salman Abedi engaged
- None of the educational establishments that Salman Abedi attended were at fault in failing to identify him as being at risk of being radicalised or drawn into terrorism.
- No single institution had a comprehensive-enough view of Salman Abedi’s behaviour, family situation or potential risk factors, over a sufficiently long period of time, to recognise his descent into violent Islamist extremism.
- More needs to be done to ensure that education providers share relevant information about students such that those vulnerable to radicalisation can be more effectively identified than is currently the position.
- The mosques attended by Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi were not an active factor or cause in their radicalisation.
- The Prison Service needs a scheme designed to address the risk that radicalised prisoners present both to other prisoners and to visitors.
- Salman Abedi should have been subject to a Prevent referral at some point in 2015 or 2016. However, it is very hard to say what would have happened if Salman Abedi had been approached under Prevent or the Channel programme.
Key findings: Planning and preparation for the Attack
- The device created by Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi was designed to kill and injure as many people as possible.
- Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi are likely to have developed their ability to construct their device from viewing an Islamic State instructional video that was at one stage available online, and also from training they received in Libya in 2016.
- Salman Abedi and Hashem Abedi took extensive steps to avoid detection in the period prior to their departure for Libya on 15th April 2017 and Salman Abedi continued those steps following his return to the UK on 18th May 2017.
- Hashem Abedi confessed his involvement in the Attack to members of the Inquiry Legal Team. In that confession, he revealed that he and Salman Abedi were motivated by adherence to Islamic State.
- The evidence, while creating reasonable suspicions regarding other individuals, is insufficient to establish on the balance of probabilities that any of those who participated in the acquisition of precursor chemicals knew that those chemicals were to be used in a bomb. However, there were people in Libya who probably knew what Salman Abedi intended to do.
Pete Weatherby KC, Anna Morris, Mira Hammad and Christian Weaver from GCN’s Inquests and Inquiries team, and Harriet Johnson from Doughty St Chambers represent seven of the bereaved families at the Inquiry, instructed by Nicola Brook of Broudie Jackson Canter Solicitors, and Terry Wilcox of Hudgell Solicitors.