Youssef Zaghba

Moroccan-born Italian citizen Youssef Zaghba was one of three men to carry out a terrorist attack in London, England, on June 3, 2017, that killed eight individuals and injured 48 others.“London attack: Who were the attackers?,” BBC News, June 28, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40173157; Tom Cleary, “Youssef Zaghba: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, June 6, 2017, https://heavy.com/news/2017/06/youssef-zaghba-london-bridge-terror-attacks-stabbings-suspect-attacker-killer-name/. In the attack, Zaghba, Rachid Redouane, and suspected ringleader Khuram Butt drove a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge, then continued on foot to the Borough Market area where they stabbed additional bystanders before police arrived and shot dead all three assailants. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack the next day.Tom Cleary, “Youssef Zaghba: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, June 6, 2017, https://heavy.com/news/2017/06/youssef-zaghba-london-bridge-terror-attacks-stabbings-suspect-attacker-killer-name/. All three assailants were reportedly linked to the U.K.-banned jihadist network al-Muhajiroun.Rukmini Callimachi and Katirn Bennhold, “London Attackers Slip By Despite an Avalanche of Warnings,” New York Times, June 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/world/europe/london-assailants-terrorism-warning-signs-fbi.html, Mark White, “London Bridge attackers were part of banned jihadi network,” Sky News, June 6, 2017, https://news.sky.com/story/london-bridge-attacker-khuram-butt-was-part-of-banned-jihadi-network-10906091.

Zaghba was a naturalized Italian citizen born in Fez, Morocco, where he lived until his mother returned to her native Italy in 2015.Giulia Paravicini, “Third London attacker told Italian police: ‘I’m going to be a terrorist,’” Politico, June 7, 2017, https://www.politico.eu/article/third-london-attacker-was-known-to-uk-security-services/. Zaghba joined his mother briefly in Italy in early 2016, before moving to London, England, though he continued to visit Italy periodically.Lorenzo Tondo, “Italian officials alerted UK about Youssef Zaghba, says prosecutor,” Guardian (London), June 7, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/07/youssef-zaghba-italian-officials-wrote-to-uk-says-prosecutor.

On March 15, 2016, Zaghba attempted to fly from Bologna, Italy to Istanbul, Turkey, with the intention of continuing on to Syria to join ISIS, but was stopped by Italian authorities in the Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport before his departure.Lizzie Dearden, “London attack: third terrorist named as Youssef Zaghba from east London,” Independent (London), June 6, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-attack-terrorist-named-youssef-zaghba-italy-morocco-bologna-isis-bridge-borough-a7775051.html; “Third London Attacker Identified as Italian Who Once Told Officials, 'I'm Going to be a Terrorist,'” Inside Edition, June 6, 2017, https://www.insideedition.com/headlines/23757-third-london-attacker-identified-as-italian-who-once-told-officials-im-going-to-be-a. During questioning, Zaghba stated, “I am going to be a terrorist.”Giulia Paravicini, “Third London attacker told Italian police: ‘I’m going to be a terrorist,’” Politico, June 7, 2017, https://www.politico.eu/article/third-london-attacker-was-known-to-uk-security-services/. Authorities also found ISIS propaganda videos on Zaghba’s cell phone.Robert Booth, “London Bridge: third attacker named as Youssef Zaghba,” Guardian (London), June 6, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/06/london-bridge-attack-third-attacker-named-in-italy-as-youssef-zaghba. Although authorities confiscated his cell phone and passport, they were unable to arrest him because as Bologna Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Amato stated, “in Italy…the fact of having common-source images that evoke radicalisation is not a crime.”James Politi, “London Bride terrorist Zaghba ‘constantly monitered’ in Italy,” Financial Times (London), June 7, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/6b724192-4b8d-11e7-919a-1e14ce4af89b; Eric Sylvers, “Terrorist Youssef Zaghba Was ‘Unyielding in His Views on Islam,’ His Mother Says,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/terrorist-youssef-zaghba-was-unyielding-in-his-views-on-islam-his-mother-says-1497519002. Italian authorities launched an investigation into Zaghba, but ended it in April 2016 because they lacked sufficient evidence of terrorist activity.Giulia Paravicini, “Third London attacker told Italian police: ‘I’m going to be a terrorist,’” Politico, June 7, 2017, https://www.politico.eu/article/third-london-attacker-was-known-to-uk-security-services/; Eric Sylvers, “Terrorist Youssef Zaghba Was ‘Unyielding in His Views on Islam,’ His Mother Says,” Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/terrorist-youssef-zaghba-was-unyielding-in-his-views-on-islam-his-mother-says-1497519002. Nonetheless, Italian authorities reportedly notified their British counterparts of the potential terrorist risk posed by Zaghba and added him to a European database of potential extremists. However, British authorities later denied having been warned about him. Lorenzo Tondo, “Italian officials alerted UK about Youssef Zaghba, says prosecutor,” Guardian (London), June 7, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/07/youssef-zaghba-italian-officials-wrote-to-uk-says-prosecutor; Lizzie Dearden, “London attack: British intelligence denies being warned Youssef Zaghba ‘wanted to be a terrorist,’” Independent (London), June 8, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/News/uk/home-news/london-attack-youssef-zaghba-terrorist-italy-warning-uk-intelligence-deny-khuram-butt-choudary-a7779891.html.

On June 3, 2017, Zaghba, Rachid Redouane, and suspected ringleader Khuram Butt drove a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge. The three men then exited the vehicle wearing fake suicide belts in an attempt to deter authorities and continued on foot to the Borough Market area, where they stabbed individuals in bars and restaurants using knives.Tom Cleary, “Youssef Zaghba: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, June 6, 2017, https://heavy.com/news/2017/06/youssef-zaghba-london-bridge-terror-attacks-stabbings-suspect-attacker-killer-name/; Lizzie Dearden, “London attack: Rachid Redouane's wife says she is 'numbed' by his actions amid reports of domestic abuse,” Independent (London), June 7, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-attack-rachid-redouane-wife-domestic-abuse-numbed-response-bridge-borough-market-isis-a7778041.html. In total, they killed eight people and injured 48 others before police arrived at the scene and shot dead all three assailants.“London attack: Who were the attackers?,” BBC News, June 28, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40173157; Tom Cleary, “Youssef Zaghba: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know,” Heavy.com, June 6, 2017, https://heavy.com/news/2017/06/youssef-zaghba-london-bridge-terror-attacks-stabbings-suspect-attacker-killer-name/. ISIS’s Amaq News Agency claimed responsibility for the attack the next day.Lizzie Dearden, “London terror attack: Isis claims responsibility amid group’s ‘call for increased attacks,’” Independent (London), June 4, 2017, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/london-terror-attack-isis-claims-responsibility-borough-market-bridge-a7772776.html.

All three men were reportedly linked to the jihadist network al-Muhajiroun, which is banned in the United Kingdom due to its links to terrorism.Rukmini Callimachi and Katirn Bennhold, “London Attackers Slip By Despite an Avalanche of Warnings,” New York Times, June 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/world/europe/london-assailants-terrorism-warning-signs-fbi.html, Mark White, “London Bridge attackers were part of banned jihadi network,” Sky News, June 6, 2017, https://news.sky.com/story/london-bridge-attacker-khuram-butt-was-part-of-banned-jihadi-network-10906091. The New York Times reported that Zaghba had initially connected with Italian members of al-Muhajiroun, who put him in contact with Butt.Rukmini Callimachi and Katirn Bennhold, “London Attackers Slip By Despite an Avalanche of Warnings,” New York Times, June 6, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/06/world/europe/london-assailants-terrorism-warning-signs-fbi.html. Zaghba’s mother claimed that he was radicalized online and became friends with “the wrong people” in England, including Redouane and Butt.Benoit Faucon, “London probe Focuses on Terrorists’ Wider Links,” Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/british-police-name-third-london-bridge-attacker-as-youssef-zaghba-1496746753; Lorenzo Tondo, “Italian officials alerted UK about Youssef Zaghba, says prosecutor,” Guardian (London), June 7, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/07/youssef-zaghba-italian-officials-wrote-to-uk-says-prosecutor. She added that he had spoken of a “pure Islam” that he hoped to find in Syria.Benoit Faucon, “London probe Focuses on Terrorists’ Wider Links,” Wall Street Journal, June 10, 2017, https://www.wsj.com/articles/british-police-name-third-london-bridge-attacker-as-youssef-zaghba-1496746753.

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