A second witness has told the inquiry into the Manchester Arena terror attack that he suspected that Salman Abedi might be a suicide bomber, and that he even challenged him over his presence at the concert. Christopher Wild said he spoke to Abedi, 22, in the foyer of the arena, while he waited with his partner to pick up her daughter and her daughter’s friend after the Ariana Grande concert taking place that night.
Abedi’s appearance – dressed all in black with a large rucksack – and his apparent attempts to remain inconspicuous outside the event seemed strange, Wild told the public inquiry into the attack.
Wild said: “I just thought it was strange. It’s a kids concert. It just all seemed very strange to me why he would be sat there. He was keeping out of view and that’s another reason why I thought it was strange. I started to think about things that happened in the world, I just thought it could be dangerous.”
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, which is taking place in Manchester, asked Wild: “What danger was it? What did you think he might do?”
Wild said: “Let a bomb off.”
On Monday the inquiry heard from Neil Hatfield, who also said he thought “suicide bomber” when he saw Abedi while waiting to collect his four daughters following the Grande concert.
Wild said he went as far as challenging Abedi over his presence in the Manchester Arena foyer: “I felt a bit bad about challenging him, but I asked what have you got in your rucksack? He didn’t reply, he just looked up at me."
“I said: ‘It doesn’t look very good you know, what you see with bombs and such, you with a rucksack like this in a place like this, what are you doing?’”
“He seemed on edge, nervous,” Wild added.
Shortly after, at around 10.14pm, around 16 minutes before Abedi detonated his rucksack bomb, Wild approached a steward from Showsec, the security contractors for the arena. He said he told him he was “very concerned” about the man, hiding with a large rucksack. “He said he already knew about him and that was it really,” Wild said.
Wild was himself injured in the blast but not as seriously as his partner, Julie Whitley, who spent 11 days in hospital and has to “live with the consequences of that night to this day”, the hearing was told.
The inquiry, expected to conclude next spring, will continue on Wednesday morning.
Whatever the mistakes made by security staff on the night or the misjudgment of the police officers on duty that the concert was quiet enough, being attended by well-behaved schoolgirls and their mothers, such that they could slip away for a longer meal break than they should have taken I know who I blame. First I blame the jihadis themselves, slow jihad and violent jihad both. Then I blame the government who allowed those who menace us into the country. That allow them to spread their jhad agenda with impunity. That allow to thrive a community who are the sea within which jihadists swim. Note that the concerned father had to pluck up courage to challenge somebody who might have been an 'innocent Muslim'. And couldn't bring himself to carry his spider sense through. But I expect the staff on the ground will be the ones having to 'learn the lessons'
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