Manchester attack: Abedi 'not known' to Prevent scheme

Salman Abedi Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption It is thought Abedi was one of a larger network of collaborators, which police are investigating

Manchester suicide attacker Salman Abedi was not known to the government's Prevent scheme, police have said.

Ian Hopkins, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, told BBC Radio Manchester the bomber was arrested for minor offences in 2012.

Prevent aims to deradicalise young people or prevent others from being radicalised.

MI5 has launched an inquiry into how it dealt with warnings from the public about Abedi.

Two people who knew Abedi while he was a college student made separate calls to an anti-terrorism hotline to warn police about his extremist views.

A total of 16 people have been arrested in connection with last Monday's attack, with 11 still in custody.

Police said on Tuesday evening that three men had been released without charge. Two people had been released previously.

Troops stand down

Mr Hopkins said: "At this stage I have no other information other than what is on our system about his theft, receiving stolen goods, minor assault... Five years ago, so he would have been 16/17.

"Abedi was not known to the Prevent programme, was not on any sort of Prevent agenda."

He said the force would continue to check previous records but said: "Obviously I am not privy to what the security service did or didn't know about that individual at this time."

Over the next three days, military personnel deployed under Operation Temperer will be stood down after the UK terror threat level was downgraded to severe.

British troops who have been guarding key locations including Buckingham Palace in the days after the attack will be removed.

Officers have sent a bomb disposal unit and placed a cordon outside an address in Springfield Street in Wigan while they search a property on Tuesday. People have been asked to avoid the area.

The same street was evacuated on Thursday after police found "potentially suspicious items".

How did Abedi slip through the net?

Image copyright GMP
Image caption Police are trying to locate the location of this blue case carried by Abedi

By Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

The revelation that Salman Abedi was "not known" to the Prevent programme raises more questions than it answers.

Concerns about Abedi are believed to have been passed on to the police anti-terrorist hotline in 2012.

Three years later, an Imam also apparently contacted police about him and at the time of his death, Abedi was on a list of up to 20,000 former "subjects of interest" to MI5.

These are individuals who at one stage had been investigated and monitored.

So, how was it that he wasn't dealt with by Prevent officers? Did the authorities decide that he wasn't suitable for the programme - or was there a breakdown in communication which allowed him to slip the net?

These are now pressing matters for MI5's post-incident investigation and the report it's preparing on the case for ministers.

Meanwhile, Manchester Victoria railway station reopened on Tuesday more than a week after the attack at the city's arena.

The station, attached to Manchester Arena, was shut after the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert, which left 22 people dead and dozens injured.

Staff were visibly upset when they returned to work, with 15 of them among those first on the scene. They were joined by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to lay wreaths.

Mr Burnham told the BBC: "People went above and beyond what you would expect. Those who rushed into the danger were station staff.

"In these moments, you do see the best of people, you see the best of our public services and it is quite awe-inspiring to hear that."

'I just want to hug everyone'

By Michelle Adamson, BBC Manchester reporter at Victoria station

There is a sombre atmosphere among commuters as Victoria station reopens.

The heartache is still raw following the Arena attack and some commuters are in tears as they attempt to get back to their normal routines.

People have been emotional but what unites them all is a steely defiance to carry on. Commuter Hannah Khan, 32, said: "I just want to hold my hands out and hug everyone."

Black cab driver George Berry, 60, from Bury, is back on the taxi rank at Victoria Station.

He said he had "mixed feelings but I'm glad to be back at work".

He said the lives of those not directly affected by the attacks would be returning to normal.

"They won't forget, but you have to make a living."

The investigation

  • A total of 16 people have been arrested. Five have been released and 11 remain in custody
  • Police are appealing for people who may have seen Abedi with a blue suitcase in the Wilmslow Road area or the city centre between 18 and 22 May
  • Searches have been carried out at a tip next to the M66 between Bury and Heywood
  • Police also searched a number of addresses on Monday in Whalley Range and Rusholme, Manchester, Chester, and Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex. As a result of these a 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences
  • Some 18 scenes are still being guarded and forensically examined across Greater Manchester
  • Mr Hopkins said the investigation will continue for some time and "a significant team of detectives" would be brought together ahead of the "inevitable court cases"
  • The Anti-Terrorist Hotline is 0800 789 321
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionCCTV footage appears to show the Manchester bomber walking around a shop

In other developments:

  • In total 116 people received hospital treatment in the days immediately after the attack
  • There are now 50 being treated in eight hospitals, including 17 people who are currently in critical care
  • Ariana Grande has said she will return to Manchester to play a benefit gig for the victims of the attack
  • Vigils were held in the days after the attack and on Monday to mark a week since the bombing
  • Hundreds gathered across the UK including in St Ann's Square, Manchester to lay flowers and pay tribute to those who lost their lives
Image copyright PA
Image caption Mayor Andy Burnham said there had been a "city-wide response" to the attack

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