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UK security service missed chances to thwart Manchester attack: lawmakers

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s MI5 security service missed potential opportunities to prevent a 2017 suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that killed 22 people, senior lawmakers said in a report on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A young woman reacts as she holds a rose while looking at the messages and floral tributes left for the victims of the attack on Manchester Arena, in Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jon Super/File Photo

Britain suffered four attacks in 2017 that killed 36 people – the deadliest spate since the London July 2005 train bombings.

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said there had been a number of failures by those monitoring the bomber, 22-year-old Briton Salman Abedi, born to Libyan parents.

Abedi had been known to MI5 since 2014 but was never referred to a counter-extremism programme and MI5 had not restricted his travel.

He also visited an extremist contact in prison but no follow-up action was taken by police or MI5.

“What we can say is that there were a number of failures in the handling of Salman Abedi’s case,” said Dominic Grieve, the committee chairman.

“While it is impossible to say whether these would have prevented the devastating attack on May 22, we have concluded that, as a result of the failings, potential opportunities to prevent it were missed,” Grieve said.

HIGH THREAT LEVEL

Britain is on its second-highest threat level.

The report said it was striking that many of the issues it was raising on the 2017 attacks were similar to those in a report on previous attacks.

“We have previously made recommendations in all of these areas, yet the government failed to act on them. The lessons from last year’s tragic events must now result in real action,” Grieve said.

Amongst the failures last year were the decision by MI5 not to monitor or restrict Abedi’s travel, allowing him to return to the UK undetected in the days before he carried out the attack. MI5 have subsequently said it should have monitored his travel, said the report.

The report said there were deficiencies in MI5’s monitoring of individuals who were not under active investigation.

“Abedi had in fact been flagged for review, but MI5’s systems moved too slowly and the review had not happened prior to him launching his attack,” Grieve said.

There was no immediate response to the report from the interior ministry.

Editing by Stephen Addison

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