Manchester Arena bombing

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Manchester Arena bombing
Part of Islamic terrorism in Europe (2014–present)
Manchester Evening News Arena - geograph.org.uk - 1931437.jpg
Manchester Arena bombing is located in Greater Manchester
Manchester Arena
Manchester Arena
Manchester Arena bombing (Greater Manchester)
Manchester Arena bombing is located in the United Kingdom
Manchester Arena bombing
Manchester Arena bombing (the United Kingdom)
Location Manchester Arena
Manchester, United Kingdom
Coordinates 53°29′17.3″N 2°14′34″W / 53.488139°N 2.24278°W / 53.488139; -2.24278Coordinates: 53°29′17.3″N 2°14′34″W / 53.488139°N 2.24278°W / 53.488139; -2.24278
Date 22 May 2017
22:31 (BST)
Target Concert-goers
Attack type
Suicide bombing
Weapon TATP nail bomb
Deaths 23 (including the bomber)
Non-fatal injuries
800+[1]
Hospitalised: 112[2]
Assailants Salman Ramadan Abedi
Motive Islamic extremism[3]

The Manchester Arena bombing was a suicide bombing attack in Manchester, United Kingdom on 22 May 2017. An Islamic terrorist detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb as people were leaving Manchester Arena following a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande. The incident was treated as an act of terrorism.

Twenty-three people were killed, including the attacker, and 139 were wounded, more than half of them children. Several hundred more suffered psychological trauma. The bomber was Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old local man of Libyan ancestry. After initial suspicions of a terrorist network, police later said they believed Abedi had largely acted alone but that others had been aware of his plans.

The incident was the deadliest terrorist attack and the first suicide bombing in Britain since the July 2005 London bombings.

Attack[edit]

On 22 May 2017 at 22:31 BST (UTC+01:00),[4]:3.8 a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena. The attack took place after an Ariana Grande concert that was part of her 2017 Dangerous Woman Tour.[5][6] 14,200 people attended the concert.[7] Many exiting concert-goers and waiting parents were in the foyer at the time of the explosion. According to evidence presented at the coroner's inquest, the detonation of the bomb killed people who were up to 20 metres (66 ft) away.[8]

Greater Manchester Police declared the incident a terrorist attack and suicide bombing. It was the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the 7 July 2005 London bombings.[4]:3

Aftermath[edit]

About three hours after the bombing, police conducted a controlled explosion on a suspicious item of clothing in Cathedral Gardens. This was later confirmed to have been abandoned clothing and not dangerous.[9][10]

Residents and taxi companies in Manchester offered free transport or accommodation via Twitter to those left stranded at the concert.[4]:4.85 Parents were separated from their children attending the concert in the aftermath of the explosion. A nearby hotel served as a shelter for people displaced by the bombing, with officials directing separated parents and children there.[4]:4.85 Manchester's Sikh temples (gurdwaras) along with local homeowners, hotels and venues offered shelter to survivors of the attack.[11]

British military personnel alongside armed police as part of Operation Temperer in response to the raised threat level

Manchester Victoria railway station, which is partly underneath the arena, was evacuated and closed, and services were cancelled.[5][12] The explosion caused structural damage to the station, which remained closed until the damage had been assessed and repaired, resulting in significant disruption to train and tram services.[13] The station reopened to traffic on 30 May 2017, following the completion of police investigation work and repairs to the fabric of the building.[4]:4.57

After a COBRA meeting with Greater Manchester's Chief Constable, Ian Hopkins, on 23 May, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK's terror threat level[14] was raised to "critical", its highest level.[4]:5.247 The threat level remained critical until 27 May, when it was reduced to its previous level of severe.[15] In the aftermath of the attack Operation Temperer was activated for the first time, allowing up to 5,000 soldiers to reinforce armed police in protecting parts of the country.[16][17][18] Tours of the Houses of Parliament and the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace were cancelled on 24 May, and troops were deployed to guard government buildings in London.[19]

On 23 May, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, via the Nashir Telegram channel, claimed the attack was carried out by "a soldier of the Khilafah". The message called the attack "an endeavor to terrorize the mushrikin, and in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims."[20][21][22] Abedi's sister speculated that he was motivated by revenge for Muslim children killed by American airstrikes in Syria.[23][24]

On 14 June, it was confirmed that the Arena would remain closed until September, with scheduled concerts either cancelled or moved to other venues.[25] On 16 August 2017, it was announced that Manchester Arena would reopen on 9 September, with a benefit concert featuring Noel Gallagher and other acts associated with the North West.[26]

On 24 January 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Manchester would receive an extra £13 million from the government for most of the costs incurred because of the attack.[27]

On 30 January 2018, Chris Parker, a homeless man who stole from victims of the attack, was jailed for 4 years and three months.[28]

Casualties[edit]

The blast killed the attacker and 22 concert-goers and parents who were in the entrance waiting to pick up their children following the show; 119 people were initially reported as injured.[29][30] This number was revised by police to 250 on 22 June, with the addition of severe psychological trauma and minor injuries.[31] In May 2018 the number of injured was revised to 800.[1] The dead included ten people aged under 20; the youngest victim was an eight-year-old girl and the oldest was a 51-year-old woman.[30] Of the 22 people who died, twenty were Britons and two were British-based Polish nationals.[32]

North West Ambulance Service reported that 60 of its ambulances attended the scene, carried 59 people to local hospitals, and treated a number of walking wounded on site.[4]:2 Of those hospitalised, 12 were children under the age of 16.[29] In total, 112 people were hospitalized for their injuries, and 27 were treated for injuries that did not require hospitalization. Out of this total of 139, 79 were children.[33]

The first doctor thought to have been on scene was an off-duty consultant anaesthetist, Dr. Michael Daley.[34] In recognition of his bravery for the role he played in the immediate medical response to the incident, Daley's name was entered into the British Medical Association Book of Valour in June 2017.[35]

Attacker[edit]

The bomber, Salman Ramadan Abedi, was a 22-year-old British Sunni Muslim of Libyan ancestry.[36][37] He was born in Manchester on 31 December 1994 to a Salafi[38] family of Libyan-born refugees who had settled in south Manchester after fleeing to the UK to escape the government of Muammar Gaddafi. He had two brothers and a sister.[39][40] He grew up in the Whalley Range area and lived in Fallowfield.[41] According to The Times, Abedi had been among a group of students who had accused a teacher of Islamophobia for criticising suicide bombing.[42][43] Some neighbours described the Abedi family as very traditional and "super religious".[44] However, according to an acquaintance, Abedi was "outgoing" and consumed alcohol until 2012,[45] while another said that Abedi was a "regular kid who went out and drank" until about 2016.[46] Abedi was also known to have taken drugs, particularly cannabis.[39][45] Abedi, his elder brother,[47] and, prior to 2011, his father attended Didsbury Mosque.[41][48][49] An imam at the mosque recalled that Abedi looked at him "with hate" after he preached against ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia in 2015.[50] Abedi was a supporter of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an organisation banned in the UK. He also reportedly said to his friends that being a suicide bomber 'was ok'.[51]

Abedi's parents, both born in Tripoli, returned to Libya in 2011 following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi,[41] while Abedi stayed in the United Kingdom. Abedi attended Burnage Academy for Boys in Manchester between 2009 and 2011, before going to The Manchester College until 2013. He then took a gap-year, where he returned with his brother Hashem to Libya to live with his parents. The brothers were rescued by the Royal Navy from Tripoli in August 2014 as part of a group of 110 British citizens aboard survey ship HMS Enterprise as the Libyan civil war erupted, taken to Malta and flown back to the UK.[52][53] He subsequently enrolled at the University of Salford, where he studied business administration, before dropping out to work in a bakery.[39] Manchester police believe Abedi used student loans to finance the plot, including travel overseas to learn bomb-making.[54] The Guardian reported he may have received loan funding as recently as April.[55]

He was known to British security services and police but was not regarded as a high risk, having been linked to petty crime but never flagged up for radical views.[48][56] A community worker told the BBC he had called a hotline five years before the bombing to warn police about Abedi's views and members of Britain's Libyan diaspora said they had "warned authorities for years" about Manchester's Islamist radicalisation.[57][58] Abedi was allegedly reported to authorities for his extremism by as many as five community leaders and family members and had been banned from a mosque;[59][60][61] the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, though, said Abedi was not known to the "Prevent" anti-radicalisation programme.[62] On 29 May, MI5 launched an internal inquiry into its handling of the warnings it had received about Abedi and a second, "more in depth" inquiry, into how it missed the danger.[63][64][65]

According to a retired European intelligence officer, Abedi was in contact with members of the ISIS Battar brigade in Sabratha, Libya.[66] Greater Manchester police said that Abedi made "core purchases" for the construction of the bomb in the four days between his return from Libya and the attack, apparently constructing the bomb by himself.[67]

Investigation[edit]

Bombing location map

The property in Fallowfield where Abedi lived was raided on 23 May. Armed police breached the house with a controlled explosion and searched it. Abedi's 23-year-old brother was arrested in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in south Manchester in relation to the attack.[68][69] Police carried out raids in two other areas of south Manchester and another address in the Whalley Range area.[69] Three other men were arrested, and police initially spoke of a network supporting the bomber,[57] although police later announced that Abedi had sourced all the bomb components himself, and they now believed he had largely acted alone.[70] On 6 July, police said that they believed others had been aware of Abedi's plans.[71]

According to German police sources, Abedi transited through Düsseldorf Airport on his way home to Manchester from Istanbul four days before the bombing.[72] French interior minister Gérard Collomb said in an interview with BFM TV that Abedi may have been to Syria, and had "proven" links with ISIS.[73] Abedi's younger brother and father were arrested by Libyan security forces on 23 and 24 May respectively.[74] The brother was suspected of planning an attack in Libya, and was said to be in regular touch with Salman, and aware of the plan to bomb the Manchester Arena,[75] but not the date.[76] According to a Libyan official, the brothers spoke on the phone about 15 minutes before the attack was carried out.[77] On 1 November 2017, the UK formally requested Libya to extradite the bomber's younger brother, Hashem Abedi to return to the UK to face trial for complicity in the murder of the 22 people killed in the explosion.[78]

Photographs of the remains of the IED published by The New York Times indicated that it had comprised an explosive charge inside a lightweight metal container which was carried within a black vest or a blue Karrimor backpack. Most of the fatalities occurred in a ring around the bomber. His torso was propelled by the blast through the doors to the arena, possibly indicating that the explosive charge was held in the backpack and blew him forward on detonation. A small device thought to have possibly been a hand-held detonator was also found.[79] US Congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, indicated that the bomb contained the explosive TATP, which has been used in previous bombings.[80] According to Manchester police, the explosive device used by Abedi was the design of a skilled bomb-maker and had a back-up means of detonation.[81] Police also said Salman Abedi "bought most of Manchester bomb components himself" and that he was alone during much of the time before carrying out the Manchester bombing.[78][82]

On 28 May, police released images showing Abedi on the night of the bombing, taken from CCTV footage.[83] Further images showed Abedi walking around Manchester with a blue suitcase.[84]

According to US intelligence sources, Abedi was identified by the bank card that he had with him and the identification confirmed using facial recognition technology.[85]

A total of 22 people were arrested in connection with the attack, but had all been released without charge by 11 June following the police's conclusion that Abedi was likely to have acted alone, even though others may have been aware of his plans.[86]

News leaks[edit]

Within hours of the attack, Abedi's name and other information given confidentially to security services in the United States and France were leaked to the news media, leading to condemnation from Home Secretary Amber Rudd.[87][88] Following the publication of crime scene photographs of the backpack bomb used in the attack in the 24 May edition of The New York Times, UK counterterrorism police chiefs said the release of the material was detrimental to the investigation.[89]

On 25 May, Greater Manchester Police said it had stopped sharing information on the attack with the US intelligence services. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, said she would make clear to President Trump that "intelligence that has been shared must be made secure."[90] Trump described the leaks to the news media as "deeply troubling", and pledged to carry out a full investigation.[91] British officials blamed the leaks on "the breakdown of normal discipline at the White House and in the US security services".[92] New York Times editor Dean Baquet declined to apologise for publishing the backpack bomb photographs, saying "We live in different press worlds" and that the material was not classified at the highest level.[93]

On 26 May, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States government accepted full responsibility for the leaks.[94]

Reactions[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

Floral tributes to the victims of the attack in St Ann's Square in Manchester city centre

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, condemned the bombing,[95] and in a later statement following the June 2017 London attack, she stated that these attacks along with the 2017 Westminster attack were "bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism" and said this extremism was "a perversion of Islam".[3] Queen Elizabeth II expressed her sympathy to the families of the victims.[96] Campaigning for the general election was suspended by all political parties for two days after the attack.[97][98] The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, called the attack "evil"[99] and announced a vigil in Albert Square the following evening,[100] which thousands attended.[101][102] The Muslim Council of Britain also condemned the attack.[103]

On 25 May 2017, a national minute's silence was observed to remember the victims.[104]

Police reported a 500% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the Greater Manchester area in the month following the attack.[105] The Commission for Countering Extremism was created by Theresa May in the aftermath of the bombing.[106]

International[edit]

Condolences were expressed by the leaders and governments of dozens of countries,[107] United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres,[108] Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland,[109] President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker,[110] Pope Francis,[111] and Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Yousef Al-Othaimeen.[112]

Ariana Grande posted on her official Twitter account: "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words. [sic]"[113] The tweet briefly became the most-liked tweet in history.[114] Grande subsequently suspended her tour and flew back to her mother's home in Florida.[115][116]

On 9 July 2017, a performance to benefit the Manchester bombing victims was held in New York City's The Cutting Room, called "Break Free: United for Manchester", with Broadway theatre and television performers interpreting Ariana Grande songs.[117]

One Love Manchester[edit]

On 4 June, Ariana Grande hosted a benefit concert in Manchester, entitled "One Love Manchester" at Old Trafford Cricket Ground that was broadcast live on television, radio and social media. At the concert, Grande performed along with several other high-profile artists. Free tickets were offered to those who had attended the show on 22 May.[118] The benefit concert and associated Red Cross fund raised £10 million for victims of the attack by early June[119][120] and £17 million by August.[121] New York Magazine's Vulture section ranked the event as the No. 1 concert of 2017.[122]

The Kerslake Report[edit]

On 27 March 2018, the Kerslake Report, "an independent review into the preparedness for, and emergency response to, the Manchester Arena attack on 22nd May 2017",[4] was published; it found that the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service was "brought to a point of paralysis".[4]:5.155

The Kerslake Report "largely praised" the Greater Manchester Police and noted that it was "fortuitous" that the North West Ambulance Service was unaware of the declaration of Operation Plato, a protocol under which all responders should have been withdrawn from the arena foyer.[4]:5.40

However, it was critical of Vodafone, for the "catastrophic failure"[4]:5.47 of an emergency helpline hosted on a platform provided by Content Guru, saying that delays in getting information caused "significant stress and upset" to families.[4]:17 It also expressed criticism of some news media, saying, "To have experienced such intrusive and overbearing behaviour at a time of such enormous vulnerability seemed to us to be completely and utterly unacceptable",[4]:19 but noting that, "We recognise that this was some, but by no means all of the media and that the media also have a positive and important role to play."[4]:19

See also[edit]

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