British authorities faced mounting anger on Tuesday after police named the third attacker in the weekend terror assault in London, who Italy had previously flagged as a possible jihadist. Police identified the third attacker as Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Italian national of Moroccan descent, a day after naming his accomplices as Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, a Pakistan-born Briton, and Rachid Redouane, 30, a self-described Moroccan-Libyan dual national.
Zaghba's father, Mohammed Zaghba is Morroccan and his mother, Valeria Collina is Italian. Collina moved back to Italy and took up residence in a Fagnano.
Butt "was known to the police and MI5", the domestic security service, but there was no intelligence to suggest the attack was being planned, the Metropolitan Police said.
He had notably featured in a Channel 4 television documentary titled The Jihadis Next Door and, according to the British media, numerous people alarmed by his views had gone to the authorities.
Zaghba was "not a police or MI5 subject of interest," it added.
But an Italian prosecutor said Zaghba was flagged to Britain as a "possible suspect" back in March 2016. Bologna prosecutor Giuseppe Amato said the warning had been transmitted after Zaghba was intercepted at the city's airport trying to board a plane for Turkey, en route for Syria.
Zaghba was stopped while trying to take a flight to Turkey on his way to Syria, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday.
According to a detailed report in Los Angeles Times, it was then that Zaghba had told the officer that he wanted to be a terrorist, but he corrected himself. Amato, Italian prosecutor told Radio 24 that Zaghba's computer was confiscated but there was no evidence of a crime. However, images of Islamic State were found on his mobile phone.
After that, Amato said, any time Zaghba was in Italy, he was always tracked by Italian intelligence officers. "We did everything we could have done," he said and added, "But there weren't elements of proof that he was a terrorist. He was someone who was suspicious because of his way of behaving."
According to The Independent, Italian authorities had informed their British counterparts in April 2016 about Zaghba’s efforts to join Islamic State.
However, those who know Zaghba up close mentioned that he was like any other person. According to Los Angeles Times, Zaghba was a 'normal' man who would greet his neighbours everyday. 77-year-old Franco Bortolini, Zaghba's upstairs neighbour is quoted as saying, "He was a good boy, just like his mother. I never imagined something like this would happen."
Collina said, "We always kept track of his friends and made sure he didn't fall in with the wrong people. But he had internet and that's where everything comes from." She added that she visited her son in London, and "that neighbourhood did not make me feel comfortable". She said, "I was there and didn't like it. He spent his time with the wrong kind of people."
Collina also said her son used to show her videos of Syria and wanted to go "because it was a place where you could live according to a pure Islam."
Collina said she understood many British imams want to send a strong signal and have said they are not prepared to give her son a Muslim funeral. "I understand that asking to be forgiven means nothing, that's why I promise to dedicate my life to ensuring this does not happen again," she said.
Over the past two years, Italy has expelled 181 people who were suspected of extremist activities but for whom there was insufficient evidence to bring formal charges. Zaghba's Italian citizenship prevented such an expulsion, Italian daily Repubblica reported.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jun 07, 2017 11:03 am | Updated Date: Jun 07, 2017 11:03 am