Metropolitan Police on Tuesday (6 June) named the third of the jihadis who killed seven people in a knife and van attack in London, and an Italian investigative source said he had been flagged to UK authorities as a potential risk after moving to England last year.
Scotland Yard said the third assailant was Youssef Zaghba, 22, and that he had not been a subject of interest for them or the MI5 domestic intelligence agency.
An investigative source told Reuters in Rome that Zaghba, who had a Moroccan father and Italian mother, had been stopped at Bologna airport in 2016 on suspicion of being on his way to Syria, and carrying material about Islamic extremism on an electronic device.
A second source said Italian authorities had flagged him up to British authorities after he moved to England last year.
Zaghba had lived in Morocco for much of his life but had made short visits to Italy to see his mother in Bologna.
One of the three attackers had also been previously investigated by British security services but had not been viewed as a serious threat, Met Police confirmed on Monday.
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Father-of-two Khuram Shazad Butt (also known as Abs), aged 27, was a British citizen born in Pakistan, who was already known to police and spy agency MI5, Scotland Yard said. He had also featured in a Channel 4 documentary, The Jihadis Next Door.
“However, there was no intelligence to suggest that this attack was being planned and the investigation had been prioritised accordingly,” police said in a statement.
The second attacker was named as 30-year-old Rachid Redouane, who police said claimed to be Moroccan-Libyan, and also went by the alias Rachid Elkhdar with a different date of birth. Both men lived in the same area of east London.
Police said they were still working to establish the identity of the third attacker. Late on Saturday the three attackers drove south across London Bridge, mowing down pedestrians before stabbing bystanders and revellers in the nearby Borough Market area spreading widespread panic as police issued an unprecedented ‘Run-Hide-Tell’ alert to Londoners caught in the mayhem.
Police resources are stretched by the number of people they believe could potentially commit an act of terrorism. There are 500 live investigations involving 3,000 potential suspects.
“A small number of the highest priority investigations involve current attack planning, and these investigations command a significant proportion of our resource,” police said.
Prime Minister Theresa May came under pressure from the media and the opposition Labour Party on Monday over cuts to police funding and numbers during the years when she was home office secretary.
Saturday’s attacks – which in addition to the seven dead left dozens in need of hospital treatment, including 15 in a critical condition – came less than a week before vote in a snap general election on 8 June.
“Our work necessarily involves making difficult judgments about how to prioritize the resources available to us at a time when the UK is facing a severe and high tempo terrorist threat,” police said.