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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 27 February 2021

Manchester arena bombing: warning from victim's mother of lockdown radicalisation

Figen Murray's son Martyn Hett was one of 22 killed in the 2017 terrorist attack

Floral tributes at Albert Square in Manchester, placed to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. AFP
Floral tributes at Albert Square in Manchester, placed to commemorate the victims of the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. AFP

A mother whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack fears terrorists will be using the coronavirus lockdown to radicalise more youngsters.

Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett, 29, was one of 22 people murdered in the 2017 attack, is calling for more efforts by the government to prevent atrocities.

Her son was killed when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Figen Murray (centre) and Mike Haines (centre left) both relatives of British victims of atrocities, at the Khizra Masjid mosque in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, to honour the 50 people killed in Christchurch.
Figen Murray (centre) and Mike Haines (centre left) both relatives of British victims of atrocities, at the Khizra Masjid mosque in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, to honour the 50 people killed in Christchurch.

Ms Murray, who backs the UK’s anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy, has been joined in calls for more support and action by Westminster Bridge terrorist attack survivor Travis Frain.

Mr Frain was hit by a vehicle in central London driven by terrorist Khalid Masood, who killed four people on the Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman to death in 2017.

"It is not just violent Islamists that commit crimes like that, it's extreme right-wing people too, and now a lot of people are at home terrorist recruiters on both sides are having rich pickings in trying to target young people,” Ms Murray said.

Police comfort young fans outside Manchester Arena. Most of those attending the Ariana Grande concert were young teenagers. Peter Byrne / PA via AP
Police comfort young fans outside Manchester Arena. Most of those attending the Ariana Grande concert were young teenagers. Peter Byrne / PA via AP

"I'm really worried about new young people who have been radicalised in lockdown.

“Prevention must always be better than cure. Prevent is underrated and gets too much criticism. It is doing a massively important job," she said.

"I would like to see more efforts put in by the government for preventative measures by people going into schools and educating young people.”

Ms Murray has visited schools, speaking about the impact of the terror attack, in a bid to help prevent another atrocity.

"When I saw the picture of the terrorist who did the arena attack what got me was the young age of the guy,” she said.

“I thought, 'why on earth would you throw your life away at such a young age?'

"Surely he was not born a terrorist, what happened along the line for him to change? I felt I needed to plead with young people to be careful about terrorism. I started talking at schools and colleges to young people."

Mr Frain is also calling for official support to help create a network of survivors who can speak to youngsters to help prevent future attacks.

“There should be a lot more support for survivors,” he said.

The aftermath of the March 22 terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge in London. REUTERS/Toby Melville
The aftermath of the March 22 terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge in London. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Speaking in a webinar on terrorism, hosted by the Henry Jackson Society think tank, Ms Murray said it had been very tough listening to the evidence of the Manchester Arena public inquiry.

“What you hear is just heart-breaking at times, and it is just a very dark time at the moment while it is going on,” she said.

“I have gone from knowing absolutely nothing to being thrown into a world of terrorism.”

Hashem Abedi avoided a full-life term because he was aged 20 at the time of the Manchester Arena attack - but will still serve at least 55 years. AFP
Hashem Abedi avoided a full-life term because he was aged 20 at the time of the Manchester Arena attack - but will still serve at least 55 years. AFP

The Manchester Arena public inquiry is examining the circumstances of the attack and whether any opportunities to prevent it were missed.

It was established by Home Secretary Priti Patel in October last year and is expected to run until the spring.

Suicide bomber Abedi, 22, died after detonating a rucksack bomb in a foyer area of the arena at the end of the concert.

His younger brother Hashem Abedi was convicted last year on 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

He was jailed for a minimum of 55 years.

The UK has suffered 13 terror attacks since July 2007, resulting in the deaths of 95 people and 463 people being injured.

Updated: February 23, 2021 04:47 PM

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