After an Ariana Grande concert, on May 22, 2017, in Manchester, Britain, a suicide bomber left 22 young people dead and 59 more hospitalized.
The bomb was detonated near one of the arena’s exits, thus, separating young people from their parents. Hours after the bombing, families were still looking for each other.
The attack took place outside the concert security perimeter. This allowed the suicide bomber to avoid arena security checks and strike the crowd, as they left the event, at 10:30 p.m.
Grande expressed her sorrow on Twitter:
Broken. From the bottom of my heart, I am so so sorry. I don’t have the words.
This tactic is a current terrorist trend, according NBC News analyst Michael Leiter.
The attackers know where the security perimeter begins, go just outside that, where you still have a crowd, and that’s where the target is softest.
Expanding the perimeter only moves the vulnerable points for terrorists. Nonetheless, the bomber was effective; nuts and bolts from the bomb were found as far away as the arena foyer.
The suicide bomber, outside the Grande concert, was identified by the coroner as Salman Abedi. He was a 22-year-old British citizen.
Police raided the attacker’s home in the Fallowfield district, less than four miles south of Manchester Arena. Neighbor Lina Ahmed, said the family of the raided home included parents, a man in his 20s, and his younger siblings. The family was friendly, in passing, but kept to themselves. Thomas Coull, a 17-year-old neighbor, said he had seen this kind of attack in Paris but was stunned it happened on his doorstep.
Greater Manchester police are following leads and watching surveillance footage to determine if the suicide bomber worked alone. A 23-year-old man was arrested, outside a nearby supermarket, in connection with the attacker, however, his role has yet to be determined.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack at the Grande concert, however, according to NBC, there is no evidence, at this time, the suicide bomber was part of a terrorist organization. Nevertheless, ISIS announced on Telegram, a social media platform, “One of the soldiers of the caliphate was able to place an explosive device within a gathering of the crusaders in the city of Manchester.” The terrorist group did not identify the bomber in this statement.
The attack has suspended campaigning for Britain’s general election, which was scheduled for June 8.
Security experts believe the use of a suicide bomber, in Manchester, demonstrates a level of sophistication that implies the terrorist did not work alone. It also indicates the possibility of more attacks.
ISIS propaganda has been focused on the children killed in Syria and Iraq, in airstrikes by Russia and the coalition. Terrorism analyst, specializing in ISIS influence, Michael S. Smith II said “this type of target was absolutely foreseeable.”
Former leader of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office in Britain, Chris Phillips said the attack was “a much more professional-style attack.” Phillips and another former member of the office, Lee Doddridge, agreed this bombing took considerable planning.
British Prevention and Protection
The former director of Global Counter Terrorism Operations at MI6, Richard Barrett, reminded people that building a bomb is not complicated and can be learned on the internet. He urged police to engage with Muslims in their communities.
Barrett believes forming relationships with Muslims will help authorities understand why people are willing to sacrifice themselves to kill mass numbers of young people. Additionally, obtaining information at the community level is the key to avoiding terrorist attacks.
International Response to Grande Concert Bombing
The bombing traumatized young people and parents, who thought they were safe, at the event and those who viewed the aftermath on television. Reportedly, adults are struggling to explain the senseless act to young people while processing it themselves. Nations have expressed horrified responses on social media.
The targeting of young people at the Grande concert has fueled a special kind of pain and anger. The quoted response by The New York Times”
These girls, in their teens or younger, with their lives ahead of them, out for a fun night [were targeted.]
A statement from the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremist group in London, said:
Soft targets such as concert halls and nightclubs have been targeted before in Paris, Istanbul, Orlando, and Bali, with the focus not just on inflicting mass casualty, but on attacking a way of life.
Mayor Andy Burnham told reporters the bombing was “an evil act.” Prime Minister Theresa May said during a press conference:
This attack stands out for its appalling sickening cowardice – deliberately targeting innocent, defenseless children and young people who should have been enjoying one of the most memorable nights of their lives.
Recent History of Terrorist Attacks in Britain
British authorities have been breaking up terrorist cells, after encountering several attacks, according to The New York Times. In March, London’s Houses of Parliament was targeted by Khalid Masood. Four people were killed and 50 more were injured.
In 1996, Manchester was targeted by the Irish Republican Army. The bombing did not cause any fatalities; however, the city was devastated.
Historically, the suicide bombing outside the Grande concert, is the worst attack on Northern England, since 2005. That year, on July 7, 52 people were killed during a series of suicide bombings on the London transit system.
Update: Ariana Grande has cancelled all concerts scheduled through June 5 and her tour is suspended “until we can further assess the situation and pay our proper respects to those lost.” This statement was released by Grande’s management team.
Authorities are following leads that indicate Abedi was part of a terrorist organization. Britain is concerned more attacks may be imminent as they learn more about the suicide bomber and his family.
An Islamic militia, in Libya, arrested Abedi’s father and brother under allegations that they were ISIS members. The arrest took place on May 23. The militant group had followed the two for 90 days. It was believed the terrorist group was planning to attack Tripoli, the capital of Libya.
By Jeanette Smith
NBC News: Manchester Arena Suicide Bombing: Victims Include 8-Year-Old Girl, Young Student
CNN: July 7 2005 London Bombings Fast Facts
The New York Times: ISIS Claims Responsibility for Manchester Concert Attack; 22 Are Dead
The Telegraph: Westminster attack: Everything we know so far about the events in London
Featured Image by Rob Sinclair Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of lindsaydaniella’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License