A security guard warned about the Manchester Arena bomber said he didn’t immediately raise the alarm because he didn’t have a walkie-talkie and felt unable to leave his position for fear of losing his job.
Mohammed Agha was just 19 and earning the minimum wage as he worked his first door supervisor shift for Showsec at the Manchester Arena on the night Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert.
He accepted that 15 minutes before the attack a member of the public, Christopher Wild, had alerted him to a suspicious male carrying a rucksack. Wild told him he had asked the man what he was doing, and he had replied that he was waiting for a friend.
Giving evidence at the Manchester Arena inquiry on Monday, Agha said he had already noticed the man, who turned out to be Abedi. He said he first noticed Abedi’s trainers, which he liked, and then Abedi’s rucksack, which was “quite big – it was like a camping rucksack”.
Agha accepted that Abedi was not the usual demographic for Grande fans, who were predominantly young girls. But he said it wasn’t unusual to see people there with big bags as the arena is attached to Victoria train station and a big car park.
Abedi seemed a bit nervous, said Agha: “He was fidgeting and he was playing with his hands a bit.” Various scenarios ran through his head of what Abedi might be doing, he added: “Is he there to cause harm? Is he waiting for his train? Is he waiting for someone?”
Paul Greaney QC, counsel to the inquiry, asked Agha if “one of the theories that ran through your mind was ‘that man is a suicide bomber’”?
Agha replied: “Not really. I did think about it, but it wasn’t in my head fully. There was too many scenarios.”
He accepted Greaney’s suggestion that “time was of the essence”, but said he could not immediately raise the alarm as he had no radio. He was guarding a fire door and said he couldn’t leave it to walk across the room to his boss “because someone might get through and my job would be in jeopardy”.
He said he asked another young colleague, Kyle Lawler, to radio in the sighting of the suspicious male. Lawler is due to give evidence later this week.
Evidence presented to the inquiry on Monday showed that Agha had completed an online training module in counter-terrorism a year before the attack. Records show that Agha took a course entitled Introduction to Counter-Terrorism and completed all 11 segments in eight minutes.
The course included a 12-minute video called Eyes Wide Open: Acting on Suspicious Behaviour and a 20-minute film about Operation Fairway, about a plot to blow up a shopping centre.
Greaney suggested Agha didn’t watch the videos or read the material but just clicked his way through the module to complete it. Agha denied having taken the course.
The inquiry also heard that although he had worked on 68 events for Showsec, it was Agha’s first time as a door supervisor at the Grande concert, after he gained his Security Industry Authority licence earlier that year.
The inquiry continues.
Source – The Guardian