UK spy chief sorry for failing to stop Manchester bombing

STORY: The bombing at an Ariana Grande Concert in Manchester in 2017, which killed 22 people and injured hundreds, was the result if a “significant” missed opportunity by intelligence officials.

That’s according to the final report of a years-long investigation into the attack out Thursday which found spies from Britain’s security services had missed a chance to prevent it.

Ken McCallum, the director general of the MI5 domestic spy agency said he was profoundly sorry.

''I deeply regret that such intelligence was not obtained. Gathering covert intelligence is difficult - but had we managed to seize the slim chance we had, those impacted might not have experienced such appalling loss and trauma. I am profoundly sorry that MI5 did not prevent the attack.''

Twenty-two people died and more than 200 were injured when a man detonated the homemade bomb at Manchester Arena in northern England as parents arrived to pick up their children following the U.S. singer's show.

Inquiry chairman John Saunders said the spy agency had failed to act swiftly enough.

“I have found a significant missed opportunity to take action that might have prevented the attack. It is not possible to reach any conclusion on the balance of probabilities or to any other evidential standard as to whether the attack would have been prevented. However, there was a realistic possibility that actionable intelligence could have been obtained, which might have led to action preventing the attack.''

The bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, had been known to the security agency since 2014, had visited an influential jailed militant in prison, and should have been referred to a de-radicalization program, Saunders said.

Richard Scorer, a lawyer for 11 families of victims, called the report devastating.

''But it is now very clear that there was a failure to properly assess key intelligence about Salman Abedi. A failure to put it into proper context, and most catastrophic of all, a delay in acting on it as a result of these failures at the very least, a real possibility of preventing this attack was lost. This is a devastating conclusion for us.''

Abedi's younger brother Hashem was jailed for 55 years in 2020 for encouraging and helping him while a third, older brother Ismail was convicted for failing to appear at a hearing about the attack, but has fled Britain.