Terror attack in Manchester 'intended to kill little girls,' experts say
Published Tuesday, May 23, 2017 12:05PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 23, 2017 5:11PM EDT
The suicide bombing at an arena in Manchester was meant to strike at underage girls to "shock the world," terror experts say.
Twenty-two people were killed, including an eight-year-old girl, and another 59 were injured following the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena Tuesday night, at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande performance. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Officials have made one arrest in connection with the attack.
"This was an attack intended to kill little girls," Edward Turzanski, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday. Turzanski says the bombing is meant to "shock" the public by targeting some of its most vulnerable individuals.
"This is diabolical, and it's meant to be that way," he said. "I can't think of anything worse than my little girl hurt, and that's where people are right now in Britain."
Terrorism expert Max Abrahms echoed that sentiment, adding that Islamic State militants appear more willing than other terror groups to claim responsibility for killing vulnerable groups like children. He told CTV News Channel that other groups are also usually more restrained in their choice of targets.
"It's been very unusual for a group to deliberately go after young girls because there's a very heavy political price," said Abrahms, a political science professor at Northeastern University who has studied international terrorism.
But when compared to extremist groups, Abrahms says Islamic State militants are different.
"It doesn't have these sorts of inhibitions, regardless of the fallout. The Islamic State really prides itself on using violence in the most extreme way."
But CTV News public safety analyst Chris Lewis said it's "doubtful" that the suicide bomber was actually trained by ISIS, though he may have been inspired by the group.
"ISIS claims responsibility for everything," Lewis told CTV News Channel. "It's just how they operate."
Lewis said the attack targeted vulnerable children in order to have a "huge impact" on the public.
"They horrified the entire world and that's the goal of terrorism. They accomplished their goal."
Abrahms suggested the Manchester bombing exhibits elements of several past terror attacks on vulnerable groups, including the massacre at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris in November 2015, which left 89 dead. However, this one was different in that it targeted teenagers and pre-teens, rather than adults.
Both Abrahms and Turzanski suggest the attacker, who died in the bombing, likely had associates who helped him build the bomb. One suspected associate was arrested in south Manchester following the attack, but Abrahms and Turzanski say there may be others.
Turzanski says, in cases such as this, there is often a skilled bombmaker who builds the device, as well as others in the network who operate partially in the dark to relay information and obtain necessary bomb components.
Investigators continue to hunt for accomplices to the attack. A controlled detonation occurred in one Manchester-area neighbourhood Tuesday.