On May 22, a suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device in an entryway as concert goers left a show put on by Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena in England. The crudely made weapon killed 22 and injured at least 64, including many young people. The bomber has been identified as 22 year old Salman Abedi; five people have been arrested in the UK in connection with the attack as the police investigate a ‘network,’ suspecting Abedi received help in obtaining the bomb and executing the attack. The bomb appears to have been in a light metal container, concealed in either a vest or a backpack. The bomber’s younger brother and father were also arrested in Libya. Members of the Manchester community have come together in solidarity after the attack, including at a multi-faith vigil in the center of Manchester on Wednesday.

The Manchester Arena – Geograph/David Dixon

London is increasing security presence in response to the attack, including putting almost 1,000 soldiers on the streets in London to relieve police officers; similar to a deployment in Paris after the 2015 attacks. There have not yet been any troops sent to Manchester, but there are more armed police officers being seen around the city. The Prime Minister declared a ‘critical’ threat level, for only the third time in the nation’s history, leading to the cancellation of popular events and gatherings such as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and the victory parade of soccer club Chelsea. Even small public gatherings are expected to have increased protection for the near future. This is the latest of a series of attacks that have targeted sporting events and other places of mass gathering as terrorist seek the most ‘bang for their buck’.

Security experts have pointed out the lesson from this most recent attack – that it is impossible to fully prevent terrorist attacks, no matter how much security is present. Security analyst Daniel Falkiner said that the bombing likely took place on the walkway to the stadium from the nearby train stop “suggesting the perpetrator may have felt that the level of security in the stadium itself posed too high a risk.” While experts believe that increased security measures have had degrees of success, incidents like the Berlin Christmas market attack in 2016 are almost impossible to prevent, highlighting the need for increased resilience to make executing a successful attack as difficult as possible and for robust response plans to mitigate any fallout.

Coverage of the attack in the United States has generated controversy, as information such as the suspect’s name was released in the American media without permission from British investigators, prompting a rebuke from the British home secretary and a possible review of information sharing with the United States.

Sources and Further Reading:

Manchester shows why even the best protection can’t stop attacksWashington Post

They Went to Manchester Arena as Homeless Men. They Left as Heroes. – The New York Times

Younger brother of Manchester bomber was ‘planning to stage an attack’ in Libya, authorities sayWashington Post

Found at the Scene in Manchester: A Detonator, Shrapnel and a BatteryThe New York Times

Manchester attack: Police hunt ‘network’ behind bomberBBC News

Manchester attack: images reportedly show bomb components – live updatesThe Guardian

GRI Director to Speak at National Sports Safety and Security ConferenceGlobal Resilience Institute