Authorities in the UK are facing tough questions after it emerged that one of the London Bridge terrorists was allowed into Britain despite being on a security watch list.
Youssef Zaghba, who was named as the third attacker yesterday, had been flagged to British intelligence services after telling Italian police “I’m going to be a terrorist” when he was reportedly stopped trying to travel to Syria.
Italian prosecutor Giuseppe Amato said there was not enough evidence to arrest or charge the 22-year-old when he was caught at Bologna airport last year.
He said Zaghba was always tracked by Italian intelligence officers while in the country and that UK authorities were informed.
He added: “We did everything we could have done, but there weren’t elements of proof that he was a terrorist.”
Zaghba was listed on the Schengen Information System – an EU database which includes details of potential suspects – according to the BBC.
This meant that staff at passport control in Britain should automatically have been alerted to him by the Schengen system.
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said: “One unconfirmed report suggests that did happen, apparently when Zaghba arrived at Stansted Airport in January – but that border staff still let him in.”
Zaghba, an Italian national of Moroccan descent, was the youngest of the attackers and was allowed to enter the UK and had been living in east London before Saturday’s attack.
Counter-terror agencies were already under intense scrutiny after it was revealed Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, were also known to security services.
The trio killed seven and injured 48 in their rampage around London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday night.
Zaghba’s mother, Valeria Khadija Collina, said he became radicalised online, echoing concerns raised by Theresa May that the internet can be fertile ground for breeding extremism.
She told L’Espresso in Bologna: ”We have always been checking his friendships and verifying that he was not trusting the wrong people, but he had the internet and from there he got everything.”
Detectives investigating the London Bridge attack have arrested a man in Ilford, east London, on suspicion of terror offences.
The 30-year-old was held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist acts.
Top pic: PA