Post Incident Report: Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing – 22nd May 2017
Laura Brown (CCO)
Chief Commercial Officer
**CURRENT AS AT: 27 MAY 2017 1700HRS**
– Bombing occurred at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, in the foyer area of Manchester Arena.
– Media sources have stated that the device was ‘sophisticated’ suggesting it was made by someone with training.
– 22 people killed and 119 injured in the attack, including numerous children.
– Armed police surrounded a silver Audi west of Manchester Arena and arrested a man after the attack.
– Islamic State have claimed responsibility for the attack, although have not provided any proof of a connection.
– The suicide bomber was reportedly known to authorities and died at the scene. Media sources claim the man is identified as 23 year old, Salman Abedi.
– A 23 year old man was arrested in the Chorlton area of southern Manchester and the arrest was apparently linked to the attack.
– Police executed warrants at a block of flats on Carlton St, Whalley Range and at a home on Elsmore Rd, Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place. A neighbour of one of the properties raided today said that it belonged to a Libyan family.
– Conflicting statement from Chief Constable Ian Hopkins stated that they believe the man acted alone.
In 2017 to date, the United Kingdom has witnessed two high profile terrorist attacks and multiple police and security service’s counter terror operations. Since 2010 terror attacks within the UK have mainly been carried out by lone wolves and targeting certain individuals or passers-by, such as the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in May 2013 and the assassination of MP Jo Cox in June 2016. The change in tactics towards mass casualty attacks on Westminster Bridge in March this year and the recent Manchester Arena suicide attack indicates a possible escalation towards more lethal mass casualty attacks by Islamic extremist groups as a trend within the UK.
So far 2017 has witnessed a series of police counter terror operations across the UK attempting to disrupt terror cells planning attacks. The most recent success on 17 May was the arrest of four men in East London believed to be have been planning an attack involving vehicles or knives. On April 27, again in London, a 21 year old woman was shot by police officers during a counter terror operation. The woman identified as Rizlaine Boular, her mother Mina Dich, 43, and their 20-year-old associate, Khawla Barghouthi, were all charged with terrorism offences and remanded into custody. Anti terrorism arrests were also carried out in London on 20 February, 23 February, 4 April and 22 April,. Full details can be viewed on the Intelligence Fusion platform.
This escalation in counter terror operations indicates that UK security services are being increasingly stretched and are under constant pressure to disrupt multiple ongoing plots. In March 2017, UK police admitted to preventing at least 13 terror attacks across the country since the murder of Lee Rigby. Police have stated said there were a host of challenges in carrying out effective surveillance and security operations including encrypted communication methods, propaganda and the range of possible attack methods. Scotland Yard’s head of counter-terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley has also stated in March 2017 that at any one stage there are over 500 terror related investigations ongoing within the UK.
Although right wing terrorism has also increased within the UK, as of the time of reporting it has been solely Islamic extremist groups that have successfully carried out high profile mass casualty attacks in recent years. However the potential future threat of far right extremists individuals such as Ukrainian student Pavlo Lapshyn, arrested for murder and planning nail bomb attacks on Mosques in July 2013, cannot be ruled out.
Click on above image to expand incident map.
Timeline of Incident
22nd May 2233hrs – Explosion occurred at foyer area of Manchester Arena, which leads to Victoria Railway Station. Witnesses stated that, “The explosion was huge and you could feel it in your chest”.
(Source: Daily Mail)
22nd May 2235hrs – On hearing the explosion it creates panic amongst the crowd as they rush to exit the venue.
Moment of the explosion, taken from the dashcam of a vehicle.
22nd May – Armed Police arrest a man in a silver Audi, west of Manchester Arena.
23rd May 0115hrs – Controlled explosion conducted in Cathedral Gardens, 100m south of Manchester Arena. Later clarified that this was abandoned clothing and nothing dangerous.
23rd May – Islamic State claim responsibility for the attack, stating, “A soldier of the Khalifah managed to place an explosive device in the midst of the gatherings of the Crusaders in the British city of Manchester, in revenge for Allah’s religion….in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims”.
23rd May 1100hrs – Armed police arrest a man near Morrisons in Chorlton, southern Manchester. The suspect was kept on the ground for several minutes before being led in handcuffs to the rear of the van.
23rd May am – Police executed warrants at a block of flats on Carlton St, Whalley Range and at a home on Elsmore Rd, Fallowfield, where a controlled explosion took place. A neighbour of one of the properties raided today said that it belonged to a Libyan family. COMMENT: The attacker, Salman Abedi, was reportedly from the Whalley Range area. COMMENT ENDS
Aerial shots showed police descending on a house in Fallowfield.23rd May – Campaigning for June’s General Election suspended.
23rd May – Arndale Shopping Centre was evacuated due to an arrest unrelated to the terror attack.
23rd May 1500hrs – Greater Manchester Police urge anyone in the area of the attack between 2000-2300hrs and has dash cam footage to send it to them. COMMENT: Police are likely looking for how the attacker arrived at the venue, or if the attacker had any accomplices. COMMENT ENDS
23rd May 1800-1900hrs – Vigil planned for Albert Square, Manchester City Centre. COMMENT: The threat to these vigils that are held after a terrorist attack, is that they could be also targeted, stirring up even more community tension. COMMENT ENDS
Profile of Attacker
– Salman Abedi – 22 years old.
– Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.His parents were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years.
– Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, just yards from the local girl’s high school, which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and grade A pupils, Zahra and Salma Halane, who were both aspiring medical students, left their homes and moved to Isil controlled Syria.There were unconfirmed reports in Manchester that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.
Notable Incident Maps
London significant extremist or terror related incidents 2017 (to date). Full details are available on our platform.
Click on above image to expand.
Manchester significant extremist or terror related incidents 2017 (to date). Full details are available on our platform.
Click on above image to expand.
Timeline of Prominent Attacks Since 2010
– 2013, 29 April to 12 July: Pavlo Lapshyn attacks. Ukrainian far right extremists Lapshy was arrested for the murder of Mohammed Saleem and planning and carrying out a series of unsuccessful nail bomb attacks in the Midlands.
– 2013, 22 May: British soldier, Lee Rigby, was stabbed to death outside an army barracks by two Islamic extremists, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale in Woolwich, London.
– 2015, 5 December: Islamic extremist Muhaydin Mire stabbed and injured three people at Leytonstone Tube Station in East London.
– 2016, 16 June: Assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox by right wing extremist Thomas Mair.
– 2017, 22 March: Khalid Masood, a British man born in Kent as Adrian Elms, drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge killing six including himself.
Detonating the device in the foyer area of Manchester Arena which leads to Victoria Railway Station, right at the end of the concert was likely intentional to maximise casualties, targeting the flows of people leaving the arena. It also seems likely that prior to the attack, either the individual who conducted the attack or a person in his network conducted a reconnaissance of the location, however, we cannot rule out the insider threat and that this terrorist had a connection to the arena. Based on the analysis that the explosive device was sophisticated, it appears that this terrorist is part of a network. It is rare that a skilled bomb maker would conduct an attack themselves. With that in mind, the police are likely now attempting to interdict the network before another attack is conducted. If there is a wider network, the group will be aware that they could be arrested imminently and therefore may look to conduct a follow up attack as soon as possible.
Since reporting states that the terrorist was known to authorities, it again raises the issue that police and security services are currently overstretched and are unable to monitor all persons on the extremist radar. In order to highlight this point, British counter-terrorism police have said they are making on average an arrest every day in connection with suspected terrorism. Following the London terror attack in May 2017, police conducted two arrests in Manchester, targeting people apparently linked to the attack. It cannot be ruled out that these incidents may be linked.
This attack which targeted an event attended by children and predominantly young girls, shows an escalation in the terrorist’s attempts to cause outrage and reaction. If confirmed and this attack was linked to Islamic State, then they are merely using a historic tactic that has been used effectively in the Middle East. By attacking one community they stir up fear, prejudice and suspicion with the intention of creating a sectarian war in Europe. Although previous attacks have caused outrage, by attacking an event attended by children, this magnifies the outrage. A child who is killed, will have a father, brother, sister, mother, who may look for revenge and may seek that revenge through extremist groups. As tit for tat attacks are conducted between communities, the risk is that this escalates to massive civil unrest and sectarian conflict, as has been seen in Iraq and Syria for many years.
Europe is currently witnessing a migration of attack tactics, as jihadis return home and extremist migrants arrive on the continent. The risk is that tactics, such as initial bombings being followed up by second and third devices will become commonplace, making these attacks even more lethal. There have also been occasions in recent years when terrorist attacks have spurred on copycat attackers. A copycat attack would likely be hastily planned, using readily available weapons such as vehicles or knives, and are conducted due to this event being a catalyst and pushing the extremist across the line from planning to acting on those urges.
Police and security services will now be not only trying to find anyone connected to the attack, but monitoring how right wing groups respond. The north of England, which has seen the Burnley Riots and Rotherham grooming gangs has struggled with community relations, and this event only serves to cause another wedge between communities. It is our assessment, that with large scale migration without effective integration, security forces significantly overstretched, a prison service which is becoming a jihadi breeding ground and incidents like this destroying community cohesion, that attacks like this will not only increase in frequency in the future, but also in lethality.
On 23rd May at around 1930hrs, a man wielding a baseball bat and a large knife has been caught lurking near a Manchester terrorist attack vigil. The man shouted out as he was handcuffed and led away by officers with West Midlands Police. As he was taken away in a riot van in Edmund Street, which runs behind Birmingham’s council house, a police sergeant could be seen carrying away what appeared to be a bat and a hatchet. Police, including armed response officers, then cleared the square a short time later.
– One of those arrested was Abediâs brother, one of the security officials told POLITICO. The source also said the two brothers were known to U.K. security services as having been radicalized but neither had a criminal record. Greater Manchester Police declined to comment on this information.
– The UK has raised its terrorist threat alert to CRITICAL, which means that an attack is expected imminently. COMMENT: This suggests last night’s attacker was part of a network and another attack is imminent. COMMENT ENDS In addition, Operation Temperer will use up to 5,000 British troops to take over armed police patrol duties under police command.
Upcoming prominent events that security forces will be monitoring are:
24, 27 & 29 May: Cricket – England v South Africa, ODIs
27 May: Football – FA Cup final and Scottish Cup final
27 May: Rugby union – Premiership final, Twickenham
29 May: Football – Championship Play-Off Final, Wembley
3 May: Football – Champions League final, Cardiff
10 May: Football – 2018 World Cup qualifiers: Scotland v England (Group F)