Around the world, people are sharing expressions of outrage, concern and solidarity with the people of Manchester, England.
By now, you know the general outlines of the story – a suicide bomber struck at the end of a pop concert in the UK city. It was apparently an improvised explosive device that killed more than 20 people, including many adolescents attending the show. Nearly three score more were among the injured.
The attacker was killed, but quickly identified, though his name had not been released as of Tuesday morning, U.S. time. Police say they have arrested a 23-year old man in connection with the incident. Counter-terrorism experts seem to agree the attack took a considerable amount of planning.
Dr. William Inboden served as the senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush, and is currently Executive Director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin. Inboden says it is too early to draw conclusions about the details of the attack, but the targets were shocking.
“The fact that the main targets were children and teenagers at a pop concert shows the utter depravity and barbarism of the terrorists, designed to sow maximal shock and horror, and traumatize British society,” Inboden says.
ISIS quickly took responsibility for the Manchester attack. Inboden says early indications also point to Islamic State involvement. Inboden has spoken with British counter-terrorism experts since the attack, and says they told him that Manchester residents have traveled back and forth to ISIS strongholds.
“It’s notable that over 100 Manchester residents who carry UK passports have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS,” he says. “And because they have British passports, they are often able to come back into the country. So we do know that Manchester is one of the areas with a higher number of ISIS adherents in the United Kingdom.”
Inboden praises British counter-terrorism efforts, and says that UK officials have prevented numerous attacks.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.