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    MI5 Made Mistakes Ahead of Manchester Bombing - Report

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    According to the Intelligence and Security Committee, which oversees the intelligence and security activities of the UK, has released a scathing report criticising the performance of British intelligence services.

    In 2017, the United Kingdom suffered five terrorist attacks in Westminster, the Manchester Arena, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green, with 36 people losing their lives and dozens injured. 

    • People react in front of floral tributes on the south side of London Bridge near Borough Market after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens of injured in London, Britain, June 5, 2017.
      People react in front of floral tributes on the south side of London Bridge near Borough Market after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens of injured in London, Britain, June 5, 2017.
      © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
    • Police officers work in Westminster the morning after an attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.
      Police officers work in Westminster the morning after an attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017.
      © REUTERS / Hannah McKay
    • 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.
      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
    • An armed police officer mans a cordon on the Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park where a vehicle struck pedestrians in London Monday, June 19, 2017. Police say a vehicle struck pedestrians on a road in north London, leaving several casualties and one person has been arrested.
      An armed police officer mans a cordon on the Seven Sisters Road at Finsbury Park where a vehicle struck pedestrians in London Monday, June 19, 2017. Police say a vehicle struck pedestrians on a road in north London, leaving several casualties and one person has been arrested.
      © AP Photo / Yui Mok/PA via AP
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    © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
    People react in front of floral tributes on the south side of London Bridge near Borough Market after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens of injured in London, Britain, June 5, 2017.

    The Committee reported that the system for regulating and reporting purchases of the ingredients used to make explosives was hopelessly out of date in dealing with the threat. The lawmakers concluded that the Government's intention to improve co-operation and information sharing between retailers and law enforcement should have been done sooner and now must be kept under review. 

    The report also stressed that the British Secret Service, MI5, failed to properly monitor individuals of interest not under active investigation at the moment but in the peripheries of more than one investigation. The perpetrator of the Manchester Arena bombing, Salman Abedi had been flagged for review, but MI5's systems were too slow to review him, which allowed the terrorist to execute the attack on 22 May 2017.

    Salman Abedi travelled to Libya during the country's 2011 revolution
    © Photo : Police handout
    Salman Abedi travelled to Libya during the country's 2011 revolution

    One of the crosscutting issues, in the case of Abedi was highlighted by the Committee:

    "We have seen that he visited an extremist contact in prison on more than one occasion, however no follow-up action was taken by either MI5 or CTP. In our opinion, known extremist prisoners should not be able to maintain links with those vulnerable to extremism and we have therefore recommended that the Approved Visitors Scheme is extended to all extremist prisoners." 

    READ MORE: How Extremism Slips In and Out of British Prisons & Through Cracks of Government Anti-Radicalization Policies

    Moreover, MI5 came under fire for being aware of Abedi but not considering his referral to the government counter-terror strategy — the Prevent programme

    In reference to the Parsons Green attack that took place on September 15, 2017 in London, the report said that "what we have seen to date, there were fundamental failings in the handling of this case by the Home Office." The Home Office failed to provide full evidence in sufficient time for the case to be included in its inquiry. 

    Commuters wait on the platform at Parsons Green station in London, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.
    © AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth
    Commuters wait on the platform at Parsons Green station in London, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017.

    The 18-year-old Ahmed Hassan, an Iraqi asylum seeker, was found guilty of attempted murder in the case of Parsons Green Tube bombing in London in September 2017 — only months after the Westminster Bridge attack. 

    Hassan has reportedly neither disengaged, nor deradicalized, as the court was told that he "intended this to be a lethal attack." 

    The London Bridge terror ringleader Khuram Butt was released by the police 8 months before the attack, despite being actively investigated by MI5 prior to June 2017, following reports of aspirations to conduct an attack — the report has revealed. 

    "In conclusion, we note that both MI5 and CTP [Counter Terrorism Policing] have been thorough in their desire to learn from past mistakes. We also know and acknowledge the determination with which they approach their work, which we regard as impressive. However, it has been striking how many of the issues which arose in relation to the 2017 terrorist attacks had been previously raised by this Committee in our Reports on the 7/7 attacks and on the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby. 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," the report concluded.

    British Home Secretary said he will review and formally respond to the report.

    "We have updated our counter-terrorism strategy, introduced new legislation to allow threats to be disrupted earlier and have increased information-sharing with local authorities. We are also ensuring technology companies play their part by stopping terrorists from exploiting their platforms," Javid said. 

    Related:

    EXCLUSIVE: How Extremism Slips in and Out of British Prisons
    EXCLUSIVE: Muslim Ex-Detainee on Extremism & ‘Dog-Eat-Dog' World of UK Prisons
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    intelligence, terrorism, security, MI5, United Kingdom
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