Police face scrutiny as third London attacker named

Italian officials claim they passed on concerns about Youssef Zaghba to British intelligence officials last year.

British police on Tuesday named the third London Bridge attacker as an Italian national of Moroccan descent, and Italian officials said they had passed on their concerns about him to British intelligence officials last year.

UK police said that 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba lived in east London and had not been considered to be a “person of interest” to either police or the intelligence services – meaning they had no reason to think he was violent or planning an attack.

The other two attackers were named on Monday as Khuram Shazad Butt and Rachid Redouane.

The three, who were wearing fake suicide vests, were shot dead late on Saturday after ramming a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then slashing and stabbing people in nearby Borough Market.

Seven people were killed during the attack and dozens more were wounded.

A Canadian and a Frenchman were among the dead in Saturday’s attack and citizens of other nations were among the 48 injured, including Australia, Bulgaria, France, Greece and New Zealand. Eighteen are still in critical condition in hospital, according to health authorities.

READ MORE: British police name two London attackers

The third attacker, Youssef Zaghba, was born in Fez in 1995 to a Moroccan father and an Italian mother, reported Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Zaghba was stopped at Bologna’s airport in March 2016 as he tried to make his way to Syria via Turkey.

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An Italian interior ministry official told the Associated Press that British and Moroccan intelligence and law-enforcement authorities were informed that Zaghba had been flagged as someone who was a risk – but no other details were released.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss details of the case.

Italian news reports said authorities sequestered Zaghba’s mobile phone and passport when he was stopped at the airport, but that he successfully got them back after a court determined there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with any terrorism-related crime.

Italy has expelled more than 40 people in the past two years who were suspected of radicalisation activities but for whom there was insufficient evidence to bring formal charges. Zaghba’s Italian citizenship prevented such an expulsion, Italian daily La Repubblica said.

Zaghba was reportedly working in a London restaurant around the time of the attack and had not been seen in Italy since 2016.

The other attackers 

Zaghba’s two accomplices in the attack were identified by police on Monday.

London’s Metropolitan Police said one attacker was Khuram Shazad Butt, aged 27. Butt was previously known to police and the domestic spy agency MI5, and was a British citizen who had been born in Pakistan, the police said.

“However, there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly,” police said on Monday, without providing details on why Butt had come to the attention of law enforcement.

Butt had notably featured in a Channel 4 TV documentary entitled The Jihadis Next Door and, according to the British media, numerous people alarmed by his views had gone to the authorities.

The second attacker was named as Rachid Redouane, aged 30, who also went by the identity Rachid Elkhdar and was not known to police. Redouane had claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan.

READ MORE: ‘Evil, evil people’ – Panic and horror at London Bridge

Police on Tuesday carried out a new search in an east London suburb near the home of two of the London Bridge attackers. The search in Ilford, just north of Barking, is seeking to determine whether the group had accomplices.

Police on Tuesday also arrested a 27-year-old man in Barking on suspicion of violating the Terrorism Act and a residence there was being searched.

London police have said 12 other people from Barking held since the attack have been freed.

The youngest victim in the Manchester attack that killed 22 people and wounded dozens others was Saffie Rose Roussos, an eight-year-old [Neil Hall/Reuters]
The youngest victim in the Manchester attack that killed 22 people and wounded dozens others was Saffie Rose Roussos, an eight-year-old [Neil Hall/Reuters]

The London attack follows the May 22 suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena by suicide bomber Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton of Libyan origin who killed 22 people and wounded dozens.

Police have said that Abedi had also been known to security services but not under investigation at the time of the attack.

May under pressure

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure as the opposition has raised questions over the third terrorist attack in three months and the government’s security strategy as a general election looms.

May, who is leading her Conservative Party into a national election on Thursday, held the portfolio in charge of security as home secretary for six years before replacing David Cameron as prime minister in July 2016.

May has vowed to crack down on extremist content online, warning the public: “We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are.”

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, when asked by ITV television if he backed calls for May to resign, said: “Indeed I would.”

Between 2009 and 2016, the number of police officers fell by almost 20,000, or around 14 percent, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank.

Corbyn has pledged to hire thousands of officers for neighbourhood duties, arguing that a grassroots approach would curb crime and “radicalisation”.

After a brief pause, election campaigning resumed on Monday.

Source: News Agencies