Skip to main content

Manchester bomb used 'same explosive' as in Paris and Brussels

US politician Mike McCaul says a 'level of sophistication' in the Manchester attack suggests bombmaker had foreign training
A British army soldier and a police officer secure an entrance to Downing Street in central London on 25 May

The bomb detonated in the Manchester suicide bombing on Monday was made of the same explosive as those in the Paris and Brussels attacks, according to a US politician.

Chair of the US House's homeland security committee, Mike McCaul, told the Guardian on Thursday that the backpack carried by 22-year-old Salman Abedi in Monday's attack was loaded with TATP, the explosive used in November 2015 attacks in Paris and the Brussels attack in March 2016.

Describing it as "a classic explosive device used by terrorists", McCaul said the bomb had a "level of sophistication" that suggested its maker had links to a terrorist group and foreign training.

TATP – triacetone triperoxide – can be made from household chemicals, but is unstable and unreliable. It was also used in the 7 July 2005 attacks on London and a failed attack two weeks later.

McCaul added that the evidence known about the attack so far indicated "we're not dealing with a lone wolf situation".

The news came after the UK said it will stop sharing information on the Manchester bombing with the US, following a series of leaks related to the attack.

British police said on Thursday that leaks from the investigation into the Manchester terror attack were undermining the investigation, after details of the probe were revealed in France and the US.

‘Unsophisticated' design

According to Will Geddes, a British security specialist, the detonator used in the Manchester bomb was a "specially acquired piece of equipment … [that] suggests it was well put together and packaged, and professionally assembled," he told the Guardian.

"I think it's highly unlikely that Abedi got this piece independently. I think the bomb would have been delivered in its final format either by a courier or by the bombmaker," he added.

But according to a former counter-terrorism specialist with experience of bomb disposal, the design of the bomb which led to the death of 22 people on Monday was "unsophisticated", reported the Guardian.

Abedi set off his explosive in the foyer of the Manchester Arena at 10.30pm on Monday, at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.

The specialist said that the "improvised initiator" suggested that the explosives used in the bomb were "home made".

Although the unnamed expert said that "making a bomb is not rocket science" and could have been done using instructions on the internet, he believed that it would still require "a fairly extensive period of testing …. [which] indicates to me there is a broader network and that Abedi was the mule rather than the bombmaker," he told the Guardian.

British authorities are exploring whether Abedi, who grew up in Manchester but had travelled to and from Libya since 2011, had links with terrorist networks across Europe and north Africa.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.