Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that one suicide bomber was at the heart of the attack and are now working with the security services to find out if he was a lone wolf or part of a cell of people who planned the attack.
The fact that the target was at a major music venue — as with the Bataclan in Paris, November 13, 2015 — shows that terrorists are now focusing on what are known as soft targets — places where large number of people go, but which are not a heavily secured as airports and other "hardened" targets.
"The suicide bomber is going to be looking for the path of least resistance. They want it to be easy, they want it to be simple, but that's not to say — in any shape or form — that this wasn't sophisticated in terms of its delivery. There's no doubt that this wasn't just a case of weeks in planning, it was probably months, or even years," UK security expert, Will Geddes, founder of ICP Group, told Sputnik.
He said the security services and police were already trying to find out if the bomber was working alone or part of a cell.
"There suspicions they may already know his identity. So they are going to be looking at any productivity that he's got. We suspect he may be on the security services radar. However, inevitably, people will turn round and say that this was another one that slipped through the net. But one's got to consider the sheer number [of suspects] the security services have to monitor," Geddes said.
- Vehicles are seen near a police cordon outside the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, northern England, Britain, May 23, 2017.© REUTERS/ Andrew Yates
- Armed police officers stand near the Manchester Arena, where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing, in Manchester, in northern England, Britain May 23, 2017.© REUTERS/ Andrew Yates
- Police block a road near to the Manchester Arena in central Manchester, England Tuesday, May 23, 2017.© AP Photo/ Rui Vieira
- Fans of US singer Ariana Grande speak to members of the press in Manchester, northwest England on May 23, 2017.© AFP 2017/ Paul ELLIS
- Concert goers react after fleeing the Manchester Arena in northern England where U.S. singer Ariana Grande had been performing in Manchester, Britain, May 22, 2017.© REUTERS/ Jon Super
"Where they may prioritize certain persons of interest, there will inevitably be those below that level that may perpetrate an attack. So it's incredibly difficult — even if they had a crystal ball — to determine exactly what its leads could materialize.
"This serves to remind us that terrorism can be delivered on so many different platforms and that they will continually try and adjust that methodology to defeat the security services where best they can. However, an individual who is going to deliver an attack using an improvised explosive device will have had to research it somehow, whether it be online through various forms groups or terrorism propaganda, or through physical contact with individuals who have a like-minded agenda."
Geddes told Sputnik that police forces across the UK will now be ensuring they have gathered as much knowledge as possible from the Manchester attacks to ensure a copycat attack does not take place elsewhere.
"What the authorities right now be doing is ensuring that all the various constabularies across the country do not polarize their focus and thinking on Manchester, but look very much into their back yards to make sure that they are in good place right now to make sure that they are resilient and prepared should something else happen."