The Current

Manchester attack: Can U.K. stop homegrown terrorism?

In the wake of the Manchester concert bombing, there are growing concerns of how England's security services will keep the country safe.
Experts say the Manchester attack points to the almost impossible task for counter-terrorism officials in the U.K. (Darren Staples/Reuters)

The U.K. was already on high alert before the deadly concert bombing in Manchester. Even with armed soldiers patrolling the streets, security services face a Sisyphean task of keeping the country safe from danger.

Salman Ramadan Abedi, a 22-year-old British man of Libyan descent, has been identified as the suicide bomber for the May 22 attack.

RelatedSalman Abedi likely part of a network

Abedi was born in Manchester and was known to security services.

"In light of this particular attack, we have over in the United Kingdom about 3,000 persons of interest the security services are constantly reviewing and assessing," says Will Geddes of the security consulting group, International Corporate Protection Group.

I think the real threat is actually posed by people who live in the United Kingdom.- Loretta Napoleoni

"On average here in the U.K., there is an arrest related to terrorism almost every single day," he tells The Current's guest host Duncan McCue.

According to Geddes, security services cannot monitor every single potential terrorist in the U.K., so they "have to focus their attention on those that they feel hit the highest criteria."

When asked if security services are up to the task of tracking potential terrorists, Geddes suggests they are, but to a degree.
Armed police officers patrol Market Street in Manchester, England, in the aftermath of a suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert, May 22. (Dave Thompson /Associated Press)

"We have many years and decades of experience of dealing with terrorism domestically and therefore there's a lot of capability that is already banked to putting us in the best space we possibly can."

However, he says the challenges are immense and "somewhat insurmountable."

"Especially when you consider the number of individuals that we are potentially facing that do pose a risk of varying degrees."

Terrorism expert Loretta Napoleoni suggests more homegrown attacks are inevitable across Europe.

"I think the real threat is actually posed by people who live in the United Kingdom," Napoleoni says.

She points out that this is the case of many homegrown terrorists — including the suicide bomber in the Manchester attack — who "have never been radicalized, never lived abroad, never actually went to fight abroad but they would have if they could."

Manchester mosque officials make impassioned denouncement of attack

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Statement to media strongly condemns concert bombing

Hamed El-Said tells McCue counter-terrorism strategies must involve the Muslim community.

"The community must feel they own preventive initiatives and they really must be an integral part of any preventive strategy," says El-Said, senior adviser to the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force.

"That's not the feeling that most members of the Muslim community have here in the U.K., and I believe that has prevented the U.K. … to achieve targets."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien and Alison Masemann.