The May 22 suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena, which claimed 22 lives and injured dozens more, might have been prevented if local authorities followed up on several reports of possible extremism over the past five years, sources have told multiple English news outlets.
At least two members of the public called an anti-terrorism hotline to report the alleged suicide bomber Salman Abedi's views and actions while the ISIS killer attended college, according to the Daily Mirror. Both callers told the hotline that Abedi had expressly stated his opinion that "being a suicide bomber was OK."
Abedi had been banned from his mosque after insulting the Imam and threatening his safety during an anti-ISIS sermon. A man who allegedly witnessed Abedi's expulsion spoke to the Daily Mirror about why Abedi's permanent removal from his mosque was so significant in Manchester's close-knit and large Libyan community.
"There was a sermon about anti-Daesh (IS) and he stood up and started calling the Imam -- 'You are talking bullocks,'" the witness said of Abedi's actions. "And he gave a good stare, a threatening stare into the Imam's eyes … He showed me the face of hate, Salman, after the sermon."
"He was banned," the man added.
In addition to these multiple citations, authorities had reportedly been alerted to the danger Abedi presented on at least five separate occasions in the five years before he took his own life and the lives of 22 others at an Ariana Grande concert, The Telegraph reports.
Police had allegedly repeatedly flagged the ISIS supporter as a potential suspect and known danger, yet officers never stopped him.
Authorities were reportedly aware of Abedi's father's links to Libyan Islamist militant groups and Abedi's links to several British-born jihadists and ISIS connections, but English authorities never followed up on the young man, The Telegraph reports.
Since the Manchester bombing, some of Abedi's family has been detained in Libya and England. Libyan militia detained Abedi's father in Tripoli on May 24, and police in England arrested both of Abedi's brothers on suspicion of terrorism offenses.
Abedi's father maintains his son's innocence.
These missed opportunities may have created the perfect conditions for Abedi and his home-grown network to assemble a sophisticated bomb essentially beneath the noses of the British authorities. In the days following the bombing, England's authorities have faced mounting questions about how these lapses affected, and allowed, Abedi to evade police and carry out his unspeakable act of terrorism.
The suspected bomb maker's residence has reportedly been raided, and England's terror threat level raised to critical, but it is unclear what substantive measures the nation will take in the face of this attack.