The Metropolitan Police Service has released the identity of the third London Bridge attacker.
Scotland Yard said in a statement:
“Detectives believe [the third attacker shot dead by police following the terrorist attacks on London Bridge and at Borough Market on Saturday] is 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba, from east London […] He is believed to be an Italian national of Moroccan descent. He was not a police or MI5 subject of interest.”
That last sentence — “[Youssef Zaghba] was not a police or MI5 subject of interest” — unfortunately, is a cause for concern.
According to reports in the Italian press, the young terrorist was stopped by airport officials at Marconi airport in Bologna on March 15, 2016.
Zaghba was reportedly traveling to Syria via Turkey with only a backpack and a one-way ticket.
Italian daily La Repubblica is reporting that security staff noticed Zaghba’s agitation as he approached the check-in desk — and when asked about his journey, he replied: “I’m going to be a terrorist.”
City prosecutor Giuseppe Amato told broadcaster Radio24 that he then “corrected himself” — but an examination of Zaghba’s phone is alleged to have turned up ISIS propaganda videos.
The fanatic is said to have then been placed on the Schengen Information System (SIS), an EU-wide watch list, by the Italians.
The UK operates the SIS within the context of law enforcement cooperation.
An Italian official has confirmed to the Guardian that Italian authorities alerted their British counterparts when Zaghba moved to London.
A British official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to openly discuss the investigation has corroborated the details of the Italian report, according to the Associated Press.
But why wasn’t he arrested and charged with conspiring to commit an act of terror in Italy before journeying to the UK?
Well, according to the local prosecutor, the Italians lacked the evidence to prosecute him.
“The images [found on Zaghba’s phone] demonstrated sympathy for the phenomenon [of jihadism] but this wasn’t criminally relevant,” Amato told the Financial Times. “In Italy, like in the UK, the fact of having common-source images that evoke radicalization is not a crime. We moved onto a path of prevention and control.”
Although the Guardian quotes Amato as saying that he is “not blaming anybody,” it’s quite clear that his words are painting a different picture.
British prime minister Theresa May has ordered MI5 and police chiefs to investigate why the London Bridge attackers slipped through the security net.