Wednesday 20 September 2017

FBI 'told UK about risk from bomber Abedi'

Salman Abedi. (AP)
Salman Abedi. (AP)

Hayley Dixon

Missed chances to catch Manchester bomber Salman Abedi will be investigated, the British home secretary said yesterday, as it was claimed that US officials warned MI5 that he was planning an attack.

As the security services faced growing questions over the failure to prevent Abedi from killing 22 people at the Manchester Arena, Amber Rudd said that whether there were "signals" that were not picked up on would be examined.

Despite the terror threat being reduced from critical to severe on Saturday, she confirmed that members of Abedi's terror network could still be at large.

She spoke after claims that the FBI had told MI5 earlier this year that Abedi was part of a north African terror cell based in Manchester looking to launch an attack.

Yesterday, the son of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, warned that the UK faced an unprecedented wave of terror from Libya after it had been abandoned by Western powers and fallen into the hands of terror groups.

Khaled al-Megrahi, whose father was the only man ever convicted of the 1988 bombing, said from his home in Tripoli: "It is only a sea between us. A lot of Libyans are hungry, have no money and no justice.

Spectators observe a minute’s silence in Manchester. Photo: PA
Spectators observe a minute’s silence in Manchester. Photo: PA

"If the West continues its stance, you will see a lot of the militants coming to the UK.

"The West knows what's happening in Libya, but they only want to watch and see.

"You make Libya like this. You will see a lot of terrorists in the UK and everywhere. It was Manchester, but tomorrow it will be some other place."

US federal agents had been monitoring Abedi since last year and had passed on information from Libya and from intercepting his communications, it was said.

"Following this US tip-off, Abedi and other members of the gang were scrutinised by MI5. It was thought at the time that Abedi was planning to assassinate a political figure. But nothing came of this investigation and, tragically, he slipped down the pecking order of targets," a source told a British newspaper.

Abedi was also reported to authorities by residents at least five times in five years.

Ms Rudd said: "Of course, people will want to look afterwards to see whether there are signals that could have been learnt, how could we do this better."

"Signals" are normally used by the intelligence services to refer to emails.

Police activity at a cordon in Selworthy Road near Quantock Street, Moss Side Photo: PA
Police activity at a cordon in Selworthy Road near Quantock Street, Moss Side Photo: PA

She warned that the hunt for Abdedi's accomplices was still ongoing.

She said: "The operation is still really at full tilt, in a way, and so until the operation is complete, we can't be entirely sure that it's closed."

Yesterday afternoon, Greater Manchester Police carried out further raids. Three men arrested in Moss Side were later released. A 25-year-old was detained in the Old Trafford area, bringing the number in custody to 12.

Two people arrested earlier in the week were later released without charge. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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