09:03 GMT27 September 2020
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    On 22 May 2017 suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a device in the foyer of Manchester Arena moments after an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people. His brother Hashem was extradited from Libya and convicted by a jury in London.

    The Manchester Arena bombing public inquiry has begun with a lawyer suggesting there were possibly "missed opportunities" to stop the suicide bomber.

    The inquiry, which is being chaired by Sir John Saunders, will "explore the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the terror attack" and whether Salman Abedi's attack could have been prevented.

    ​Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, narrated CCTV footage of Abedi carrying a backpack which contained the bomb into the foyer of Manchester Arena - where US pop star Ariana Grande was playing a concert - on the night of 22 May.

    He said Abedi was clearly "struggling" with the weight of the large black backpack and he looked "out of place" and "suspicious", although that is only clear with the gift of hindsight.

    But Mr Greaney said: "We know what he is going to do. Those who saw him on the night didn’t."

    ​Mr Greaney said the inquiry would have to consider evidence that on one or possibly two occasions someone drew attention to the suspicious way Abedi was acting in the minutes before the attack and he said the inquiry would have to decide whether they were "missed opportunities" to stop his deadly attack, which killed 22 people.

    He said Abedi remained in the foyer for around an hour on the night of the attack and said: "If the presence of the potential suicide bomber had been reported it is very likely mitigating actions would have been taken that could have reduced the impact of the attack."

    ​Mr Greaney said Witness A and Witness B - who were at the arena to collect their daughter from the concert - said they noticed a man with a backpack, who is thought to have been Salman Abedi, shortly before the bombing. 

    A portrait of Eilidh MacLeod, 14, who has been named as one of those who died in Monday's Manchester bombing, is seen at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Friday, May 26 2017.
    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
    A portrait of Eilidh MacLeod, 14, who has been named as one of those who died in Monday's Manchester bombing, is seen at St Ann's Square in central Manchester, England, Friday, May 26 2017.

    Witness A was very suspicious and approached the man, asking him what he was doing there.

    The man said: "I'm waiting for somebody mate. Have you got the time?"

    Witness A said he told a crowd control steward at the arena, Mohammed Agha, of his concerns but felt he was "fobbed off". 

    ​Mr Greaney said Mr Agha spoke to a Showsec colleague, Kyle Lawler, and the two men can be seen looking at Abedi eight minutes before the bomb went off. He said Mr Agha and Mr Lawler had given conflicting statements about what was said and what actions they took.

    The inquiry heard two members of the public saw Salman Abedi wearing a large backpack and praying an hour before the attack. One of them, Julie Merchant, approached a British Transport Police officer, PC Jessica Bullough - who was later the first officer to arrive at the scene after the bomb went off - but PC Bullough could not recall the conversation.

    ​The inquiry, which is taking place at Manchester Magistrates Court, was also shown footage of Abedi - bespectacled and wearing a baseball cap - carrying out “hostile reconnaissance” of the venue four days before the attack.

    ​Mr Greaney said the footage of him staring at queues of people in the arena foyer was “chilling” in the light of his later actions.

    The inquiry’s remit includes the security arrangements around the arena, the emergency response to the bombing and the path to radical Islam, which Salman Abedi and his brother Hashem took. 

    Hashem Abedi, the brother of Manchester attack bomber, is seen in this handout photo provided by Libyan Special Deterrence Force on May 25, 2017
    © REUTERS / Special Deterrence Force/Libyan Interior Ministry
    Hashem Abedi, the brother of Manchester attack bomber, is seen in this handout photo provided by Libyan Special Deterrence Force on May 25, 2017

    The inquiry will also hear details about how each of the 22 victims died.

    Last month Hashem Abedi, 23, was jailed for life and was given a record minimum term of 55 years after being convicted of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and conspiring to cause explosions.

    Hashem Abedi was extradited from Libya, where he had fled shortly before his brother carried out the attack.

    The Abedi family were originally from Libya but had settled in Manchester.

    Tags:
    Ariana Grande, radical Islam, Salman Abedi, 2017 Manchester Arena bombing
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