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MANCHESTER ARENA ATTACK: Arena bomber ‘was problematic student, but no obvious links to extremism’

MANCHESTER ARENA ATTACK: Arena bomber ‘was problematic student, but no obvious links to extremism’

 

MANCHESTER ARENA ATTACK: Salman Abedi was an “immature” student whose “problematic” conduct raised concern, but it could not obviously be linked to extremism, the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack has heard.Professor Lynn Davies concluded none of the five educational institutes that suicide bomber Abedi, 22, attended between 2007 and 2017 could be blamed for failing to recognise signs of radicalisation, given the information available to them.The inquiry instructed an expert report from Prof Davies to look at his post-primary education in the Manchester area and whether anything could have been done to identify or prevent his radicalisation.

Abedi attended Wellacre Technical College in Urmston from 2007, where he started off with a reading age of seven. His attendance was “reasonably good” and although there were two incidents of poor behaviour there was no evidence of radicalisation, said Prof Davies.

From 2009, he attended Burnage Media Arts College, where headteacher Ian Fenn said he caught him red-handed on CCTV stealing a phone.

Prof Davies said: “His behaviour and aggression was very much a cause of concern but there were no obvious signs that this was linked to extremism.

“At this stage Salman Abedi was just an unpleasant and idol lout.”

Her report said that Manchester College, where he attended between 2012 and 2013, could not have known he was being radicalised if it was happening at the time and there was no record of fellow students raising any concern to staff.

Next, Abedi was a student at Trafford College from 2013 to 2015 where Prof Davies found he was “not a model student with frequent absences, lateness, failure to complete assignments and rudeness to staff”.

She said: “The college had in place suitable safeguarding arrangements and would have been able to identify signs of radicalisation had these been apparent in Salman Abedi.

“In my view, there was little or nothing to notice.”

Prof Davies said there was also no failure on the part of the University of Salford, where he studied from 2015 to 2017, to identify or prevent Abedi’s radicalisation and said the problem was “he was not there enough to show any signs”.

Overall, she said: “Salman Abedi was never an academic student. He had difficulty in reaching suitable levels of achievement, this was at least in part because of patterns of behaviour linked to absenteeism, lateness, failure to complete assignments and a general lack of commitment to study.”

She said his behaviour was “problematic” in each institution, particularly at Burnage where there were incidents of extreme rudeness to staff, fighting, swearing, theft and hooliganism.

But even at college level, her report found, when aged 20 he was exhibiting disrespect to staff, particularly females, and also would suddenly leave lessons.

Prof Davies concluded: “He was clearly immature with inadequate insight into responsible learner behaviour and relationships. However while his conduct was of concern this could be said of many difficult students and could not be obviously linked to any radicalised behaviour.”

Only two incidents in the 10 years could potentially be a flag of radicalisation – an assault on a female student and an image on his phone of him holding a gun – but they happened at two different colleges and taken separately did not warrant further consideration, she added.

The inquiry into the attack which killed 22 and injured hundreds will continue on Thursday.


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