After revelations that the bomber responsible for the deaths of 22 people attending an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England last week was known to UK authorities prior to the attack; but not under active investigation, MI5 has announced an internal review of how it handles intelligence regarding potential terrorists.
According to Interior Minister Amber Rudd, a review of intelligence procedures is a “right first step” for the nation’s intelligence agency to take in the wake of the tragic bombing. It comes as no surprise that MI5 would assess its ability to prevent such attacks from occurring after one has been successfully carried out on UK soil, but it is far less common for the agency to openly address its decision to conduct such a review. MI5 is traditionally tasked with countering terrorism and espionage within the UK and is subject to scrutiny from a committee of parliament, though they rarely make such scrutiny public.
“The review will look at what was known about Abedi, what decisions were made about the intelligence and what, if anything, could have been done differently,” a source from within MI5 said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“This is a review that would seek to answer whether there are lessons to be learned from how the Security Service handled the intelligence on Abedi.”
After-action reports, which go by a number of names, are a common practice within defense agencies and the military. Even after a successful operation, it’s important to review the events that occurred throughout to try to identify areas for improvement or tactics that could be adopted in other instances. When a tactical or strategic failure occurs, such as a terrorist attack inside the nation, such a review can be even more important – as it offers the opportunity to look for what allowed the event to occur, and how to close those gaps in national defensive strategy.
“There is a lot of information coming out at the moment about what happened, how this occurred, what people might or might not have known,” Rudd told Sky News. “And I think it is right that the MI5 takes a look to find out what the facts are.”
According to the anonymous source, Abedi was not among the approximately 3,000 people under current investigation, but was a part of more than 20,000 people who are considered “known” to the agency as a potential threat. According to reports provided by the BBC, MI5 was alerted to 22-year-old Salman Abedi’s “extremist views” on three separate occasions, though those reports have yet to be independently verified.
“This is an ongoing investigation so I’m not going to be drawn into comments on the actual man who committed this crime,” Rudd told the media when asked to verify that claim.
At least two people have come forward claiming that they called the UK’s anti-terrorism hotline to warn police about Abedi’s extremist views. Since the attack, Manchester police have again reached out to the public, asking for any information regarding Abedi’s contacts and movements in the days leading up the bombing.
UK officials have made a number of arrests since last Monday’s horrific attack. In all, 14 men have been taken into custody in connection to the investigation, with raids occurring at all hours of the day in different areas of the country.
Image courtesy of Reuters