Manchester Arena bomber did not look suspicious, steward says

Manchester Arena bomber did not look suspicious, steward says

A steward has told the Manchester Arena inquiry he was not “suspicious” of bomber Salman Abedi, who he saw twice leading up to the attack in 2017.

Mohammed Agha said he saw Abedi enter the City Room area carrying a “camping” rucksack but “nothing about his demeanour aroused suspicion”.

He also denied “fobbing off” a member of the public who raised concerns about Abedi 15 minutes before the bombing.

Twenty-two people were killed and many more injured as fans left a concert.

Mr Agha, who was 19 at the time, told the inquiry he had worked at more than 30 concerts at the venue, but the Ariana Grande concert on 22 May 2017 was his first as a “door supervisor”.

He said his role with the company Showsec was about “crowd management, customer service and looking after people”.

Mr Agha said he had twice seen Abedi enter the City Room, where he was working on the “grey doors” fire exit that lead to Victoria Station.

“He [Abedi] was wearing a jacket and a hoodie with a backpack,” said Mr Agha.

“His trainers caught my attention – I liked the brand he was wearing.

“I wasn’t watching him but he was in my peripheral vision.

“He didn’t raise any suspicion. It’s not unusual to see people with rucksacks, people do it all the time.

“It’s a public area where people walk in and out all the time. He went past me and I thought he must be waiting for something or for a train.”

But Mr Agha said in hindsight Abedi “should not have been there” and did not “fit the demographic” for the concert.

He later said Abedi “was nervous, fidgeting, and playing with his hands” while sitting on stairs leading to the mezzanine floor.

Mr Agha also denied he “fobbed off” Christopher Wild, who spoke to him about Abedi being in the foyer at 22:15 BST.

Mr Wild, who was at the Arena with his partner Julie Whitley to pick up their 14-year-old daughter and her friend, had previously told the hearing he thought Abedi looked “dangerous” and had reported his concerns.

But Mr Agha said he told Mr Wild “not to worry” and he would report his concerns “as soon as possible”.

Mr Agha said he told his supervisor and added: “I was trying to reassure him [Mr Wild] and I didn’t want to start causing a panic.”

The public inquiry continues.

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