On Monday night at 22:30 BST Salman Abedi, aged twenty-two, detonated a home-made bomb in a suicide attack in the foyer of Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert. Twenty-two people were killed in the explosion, including an eight-year-old girl. A further sixty-four people, twelve of them under sixteen, were injured and taken to hospital by some sixty ambulances that were deployed to the scene. Daesh appear to have claimed responsibility, but this has not been verified. The Guardian says that Abedi was known to police but was a ‘peripheral figure’ (despite recent US intelligence leaks by reporter Richard Engel, of NBC, that family members of the bomber, Abedi, had warned UK security officials about him and described him as dangerous).
Witnesses described metal shards, nails and other shrapnel debris as strewn over the scene in amongst the bodies of victims. Andy Holey, who had gone to the arena to pick up his wife and daughter, said: ‘An explosion went off and it threw me about 30ft from one set of doors to the other set of doors … When I got up I saw bodies lying on the ground. My first thought was to go into the arena to try and find my family’.
the bombing seems part of an emerging pattern of terrorist attacks on music venues.
The Home Secretary Amber Rudd spoke on BBC breakfast, saying that it ‘seems likely’ Abedi was not acting alone, owing to (among other factors) the difficulty of improvising a home-made bomb — a difficulty that deters most radical Jihadists from creating explosives without help. Per the recommendation of the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, which analyses and assesses all intelligence relating to international terrorism in Britain and overseas and is composed of counter-terrorism experts, the UK threat level has been raised to critical which means ‘further attacks may be imminent’, Rudd said. In accordance with the critical threat level soldiers are to be deployed to UK streets to aid police — approximately 1,000 have so-far been deployed — and ‘this is absolutely expected to be temporary’, Rudd said.
Following Khalid Masood’s attack on Westminster in March, police and security officials have been warning that further attacks were almost inevitable. The bombing seems part of an emerging pattern of terrorist attacks on music venues (the tragic and cowardly attacks at the Bataclan and Pulse nightclub come to mind) and Afshin Shai, a security and terrorism expert, told BBC breakfast he ‘very much doubts’ the attack was carried out by a lone wolf, saying it was ‘absolutely consistent’ with other terror atrocities carried out in Europe. Shai reported that social media accounts affiliated with Daesh have celebrated the news and warned there may be more attacks to come in other cities across Europe.
Arianna Grande, the twenty-three-year-old singer who had just left the stage before the explosion occurred, expressed her dismay on twitter: ‘broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words’. The Muslim Council, the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body, have released a statement damning the attack as ‘horrific’, ‘criminal’; ‘may the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next’, it read. The Prime Minister thanked ‘the people who have opened their homes and hearts to embody the spirit of Manchester and Britain’ — ‘there will be difficult days ahead’, she said, ‘we offer our prayers and thoughts to those affected … we all, every single one of us, stand with the people of Manchester … the terrorists will never win, and our country, our way of life, will survive’. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also spoke: ‘I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services for their bravery and professionalism in dealing with last night’s appalling events’.
Manchester’s new mayor Andy Burnham attended a vigil in Albert Square alongside Amber Rudd, the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Exam boards have said that it’s up to schools whether GCSE and A-Level exams go ahead to help protect students’ well-being.
we must work to keep ourselves and others keenly aware of the aims of prejudice and hate.
The election campaigns of all the major political parties have been suspended. Abedi’s attack may have been deliberately timed to disrupt the political narrative for the worse in the run up to June 8th. Just as May was beginning to flounder on policy with respect to the dementia tax and her subsequent U-turn, the likely narrative-shift does not bode well for Jeremy Corbyn, plagued by alleged sympathies with Hezbollah and currently under tabloid-siege over his alleged refusal to condemn the IRA, despite his office’s release of a statement to the contrary: they insisted ‘Mr Corbyn does believe the IRA were terrorists and their bombing claim during the Troubles was wrong’.
The attack seems already to have hardened the media narrative, with an appallingly unconscious headline from The Sun to which many Manchesterians have responded by pledging to boycott the paper. Reactions on certain right-wing media pages (though anecdotal) highlight the social damage the aftershocks of such an attack can cause: one commenter on a Daily Mail post called for ‘action’, ‘close Mosques immediately’, they wrote. Another claimed that ‘the country is on a one-way street to ruination because of (immigration)’.
The Daesh-sponsored terrorist attack aims to kindle precisely this kind of fear and loathing — division is their engine of evil. We must work where we can to keep ourselves and others keenly aware of the aims of prejudice and hate, so that we none of us should fall victim to the instruments of terror. #westandtogether.
An emergency number, 0168569400, has been set up.
Police are encouraging anyone with footage from the scene to upload it at ukpoliceimageappeal.co.uk or ukpoliceimageappeal.com.
Other information can be reported to the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.