On Monday night, it became clear relatively quickly that the explosions outside of Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester Arena were being considered a terrorist attack until further notice. Early Tuesday morning, the Greater Manchester Police confirmed that the explosions had killed 22 people. Among the victims were children. Now, amid reports of a possible suicide bomber, it's only natural to wonder whether the Ariana Grande concert attack was the work of ISIS.
Hours following the deadly attack, the Manchester Police's chief constable Ian Hopkins made a statement regarding the nature of the incident:
We have been treating this as a terrorist incident and we believe that while the attack last night was conducted by one man, the priority is to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network. The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena. We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity.
Thus, it's currently unclear whether or not the suspected attacker was working in coordination with a larger organization, such as ISIS. Regardless, as both Hopkins and Prime Minister Theresa May clarified, the incident is being treated as an act of terrorism unless future updates suggest otherwise.
Though the Greater Manchester Police have not mentioned ISIS and the network has not formally claimed responsibility for the attack, some analysts have pointed out that pro-ISIS social media and messenger accounts appeared to praise Monday night's deadly explosions. Terrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II, for example, told Newsweek that some ISIS-related Telegram (a messenger app) channels were celebrating the attack. At the same time, The New York Times reported that ISIS has threatened Britain in its propaganda videos and released a video featuring a supposed British national the week prior to the explosions.
Witness reports from Monday night suggest an improvised nail bomb — a device used in several other terrorist attacks over the past few years — may have caused the explosions. ISIS used the same type of bomb in the March 2016 Brussels bombings. The explosive devices are barbarically stuffed with sharp objects, such as metal scraps and nails, to inflict the greatest amount of damage. And though doing your own research on the details is critical, it's also important to note that authorities have strongly cautioned against drawing conclusions too quickly or causing unnecessary alarm. Instead, those in the Manchester area are being encourage to remain alert and vigilant in the upcoming days.