Who could have stopped the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017? According to the official inquiry, it was two low paid teenage stewards. Sir John Saunders, chair of the public inquiry into the bombing, said there were “serious shortcomings” and missed opportunities to prevent the attack.
These included a “lack of training” for two stewards, aged 18 and 19 at the time and part of a casual, minimum wage workforce, who had noticed the bomber Salman Abedi. Saunders said he wasn’t looking for “scapegoats.” But his inquiry never looked at why the bombing happened in the first place.
That would have meant asking questions about why someone of Libyan descent might feel so angry at Britain that he wanted to blow up a stadium.
It might have looked at Britain’s role in fuelling the civil war that has torn Libya apart. It might have highlighted how British spy agencies MI5 and MI6 trained and tortured fighters against Muammar Ghaddafi’s previous regime. It might have raised the uncomfortable fact that Abedi’s brother, Hashem, was convicted over the bombing after himself being tortured with Britain’s complicity.
Any serious inquiry into what caused the bombing would have to confront Britain’s role in fuelling war in the Middle East. Instead it looked at security “failings” in Manchester—and concluded that stewards should be given more confidence to confront Muslims wearing backpacks.