A public inquiry has heard that a security guard had a nasty feeling as he eyeballed Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi, but didn’t approach him for fear of being branded a racist.
Kyle Lawler said he was stood 10 or 15 feet away from Salman Abedi, who had been reported to security by a member of the public who believed he looked dodgy.
The Showsec security guard, aged 18 at the time of the terror attack, told police in a statement read to the inquiry sitting in Manchester that he felt uncertain about what to do, and he said that it was extremely difficult to determine a terrorist and that for all he knew he might have well been an innocent Asian male.
He said that he didn’t want people to think that he was stereotyping him because of his ethnicity and that it made him reluctant.
He said that he wanted to get it right and not mess it up by overreacting or judging someone by their race.
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, said that if he was to have approached him and he had been some innocent kid, people might have thought that he was racist. Mr Lawler replied, “Yes”.
Abedi, 22, dressed all in black and carrying a big, bulky backpack, was spotted and was reported to security at 10.15 pm on May 22 2017.
The Manchester-born bomber, whose parents were Libyan, was seated on steps near the back of the foyer of the arena, known as the City Room, awaiting the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
Around eight minutes before he detonated his device, Showsec steward Mohammed Ali Agha alerted Mr Lawler to the report by a member of the public and both started observing Abedi.
Mr Lawler said that at that time he was simply an Asian male seated amongst a group of white people.
He said that as Ali turned to have a look he clocked that they were looking at him. He then became twitchy with his hands. No sudden movements. He was watching them, watching him.
He said he would sort of look, then slightly look away and then look back at them and in his statement to police, Mr Lawler said that he merely had a bad feeling about him but didn’t have anything to justify that.
The inquiry heard that the witness said Abedi was twitchy and perspiring and he said he panicked slightly and was conflicted because he thought something was amiss but could not put his finger on it, he was just a good human being weighing up a complicated and difficult situation.
And if this poor man was only 18 years old at the time and only making minimum wage, that’s hardly the pay grade we should expect to be responsible for apprehending suicide bombers.
He was unequipped to deal with this type of situation, he was just there to prevent people from hurling bottle caps and knickers on stage, but certainly not to deal with suicide bombers.
This is why it’s important to stop and search people who look questionable irrespective of what ethnicity they are, these people are simply doing their job, and if they’re stopped and nothings found, then there shouldn’t be an issue, but if something is found, then it can save lives.
And if the bomber had been confronted he would have detonated the bomb, the security guard would have died a hero, but what consolation would that have been to his family?