As UK police name third jihadi, Italian source says he had been flagged
British police on Tuesday 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 Britain as a potential risk after moving to England last year.
The fallout from the attack has eclipsed other issues in the British political campaign ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary election, with both the ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour Party battling to defend their records on security.
In particular, the revelation that at least one of the attackers, Khuram Butt, was known to security services has raised concerns that they lack the resources to prevent attacks.
Butt, a 27-year-old British national born in Pakistan, had appeared in a British TV documentary broadcast last year called “The Jihadis Next Door”.
Saturday night’s rampage, in which three men drove into pedestrians on London Bridge before slitting throats and stabbing people in the bustling Borough Market area, was Britain’s third militant Islamist attack in as many months.
British police 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 an Italian mother, had been stopped at Bologna airport in 2016 on suspicion of being on his way to Syria, and carrying material about Islamist 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.
As details about the jihadists have emerged, Prime Minister Theresa May has faced questions about her record of overseeing cuts to police numbers when she was interior minister.
However, she received some comfort from the first major poll conducted after the attacks, which showed the Conservatives’ lead over Labour widening by 1 percentage point to 7 percent.
“Labour’s campaign surge appears to have crested as our final poll of the campaign is the first to see the Tory (Conservative) lead expand rather than contract,” Opinium’s head of political polling, Adam Drummond, said.
Earlier on Tuesday, a poll conducted by Survation for ITV (LON:ITV) before the London attack, had the Conservatives’ lead over Labour narrowing to just one point from six points in the same poll a week earlier. [nL8N1J34ER]
The prevailing view among pollsters remains that May’s party, who have been in government since 2010, will win a majority. But a campaign email signed by May told Conservative supporters: “With the polls tightening and with just two days to go until polling day, we need to go all out with one final push.”
Less than two weeks before the London Bridge attack, a suicide bomber had killed 22 adults and children at a pop concert in Manchester and, in March, five people died after a car was driven into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge.