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The Manchester Arena Inquiry has now concluded. The closure notice from the Inquiry Chairman is available here.

Volume Three: Radicalisation and Preventability
Volume Three: Radicalisation and Preventability (20pt version)

Part 22 Radicalisation of SA


SA left behind no message to explain why he carried out the Attack. The evidence I heard does not provide a definitive answer as to why he did what he did. Despite this, it is important to try to understand the motivation behind his horrific act. My purpose in trying to learn more is so that others can be stopped from being drawn into a similarly warped mindset of violent extremism.

The lack of any direct explanation from SA for his actions means that I must look at the surrounding circumstances, consider what SA has said and done in the past, and glean what I can about SA’s mindset and the influences upon him from the people who knew him.

I heard evidence about five main areas of SA’s life: his family; his friends and associates; his use of the internet and social media; his education; and the mosques that he and his family attended.

The analysis that follows in this Part is split into three broad sections. First, there is an introduction to some of the key concepts that are useful in understanding radicalisation. Second, I consider the main influences on SA that may have played a role in radicalising him. Third, I look at the institutions with which he engaged and consider whether there were any missed opportunities to identify or prevent his radicalisation.

One of the institutions I have considered is prisons. In April 2022, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Jonathan Hall KC, completed a report1 making broad recommendations about the management of terrorist offenders and extremist prisoners in the prison estate, to which the government has now responded.2

The government was still in the process of preparing its response to this report when I heard evidence on these issues, so I did not explore them with the relevant witness.3 However, I have looked at specific issues relating to the monitoring of terrorist offenders’ visitors and communications. These were not considered by the Independent Reviewer.

Before turning to the substance of this Part, it is necessary to provide a brief introduction to the Prevent programme.


As I explained in Part 4 in Volume 1, the government’s counter‑terrorism strategy was known as CONTEST. It had four strands. Prevent was one of those strands.4 A Prevent strategy was published following the terrorist attacks in London on 7th July 2005 (the 7/7 attacks). By 2011, three key objectives were identified in both dated versions of the Prevent strategy. First, to respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat the UK faces from those who promote it. Second, to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. Third, to work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation that need to be addressed.5

A ‘Prevent Duty’ was introduced by section 26 of the Counter‑Terrorism and Security Act 2015. The Prevent Duty required that, from 18th September 2015, identified organisations were required to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Under section 29 of the same Act, those organisations subject to the Prevent Duty were required to have due regard to statutory guidance.6

Included in those organisations subject to the Prevent Duty were police services, schools, universities and prisons.7

Any person or organisation could refer someone to Prevent. A referral could be made in a number of ways, including through the police and local authorities. It could also be made through the terrorist hotline and via a government website. A referral was then within the ‘Channel programme’, which was part of the Prevent strategy.

A referral to Prevent resulted in a Channel programme panel considering the referral. A Channel programme panel was a multi‑agency group, which included local authorities, the police and educational authorities.8

It is not part of the Inquiry’s terms of reference to consider the overall effectiveness of Prevent. My focus is on whether SA should have been referred for de‑radicalisation through Prevent. The government commissioned a wide‑ranging independent review of the Prevent programme, led by William Shawcross. This independent review presented its findings as this Volume of my Report was finalised.9