British police identify 3rd London attacker as Italian of Moroccan descent – Washington Post

British police on Tuesday named the third participant in the London attack as 22-year-old Youssef Zaghba from east London, describing him as an Italian national of Moroccan descent.

Zaghba was “not a police or MI5 subject of interest,” the police said in a statement, but according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italian intelligence had tipped off their British counterparts about his presence and frequent travels. The paper said he tried to go to Syria last year via Bologna.

There are already questions about why one of the attackers, Khuram Shazad Butt, which was known to police was able to carry out the attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May, meanwhile, continued to come under attack over police funding cuts that could have interfered with efforts to monitor suspects.

Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, said that the police and security services will have to explain why Butt was not stopped.

“People are going to look at the front pages today and they’re going to say ‘how on earth could we have let this guy or possibly more through the net? What happened?” he told Sky News.

The admission that at least one of the London Bridge attackers was known to authorities has fueled a security debate already underway in Britain as the country counts down to an unpredictable election on Thursday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan criticized the cuts to the police under the Conservative-led government and argued that London could lose frontline police officers if May’s Conservative Party triumphs in the election.

The Labour mayor told the BBC that the responsibility for the bloodshed lies with the attackers but said said that “there’s no doubt that fewer police officers means we are in more danger.”

When asked if the U.K. should rescind the offer of a state visit to President Trump following Trump’s recent criticisms of Khan, the London mayor told BBC that he had not changed his view that a state visit was inappropriate.

In a separate appearance on ITV, Khan also accused President Trump of making “ignorant comments about Muslims,” but he insisted he did not want to engage in a war of words with Trump.

“We are not kids in playground. He’s the president of the United States. I’m too busy to respond to his tweets. Isn’t he busy?”

At 11 a.m., the nation held a minute’s silence to remember all of those affected by the terror attack.

The two main candidates for prime minister — the incumbent, May, and the challenger, Jeremy Corbyn — traded barbs Monday over how security services can better protect the public after three mass-casualty attacks in as many months. 

May, a Conservative, said that authorities will need greater powers to crack down on extremism and that Corbyn had blocked such efforts. Corbyn, the far-left leader of the opposition Labour Party, accused May of starving police and other security services of personnel and funds. 

Both agreed that the country will have to make changes as security services — which for years successfully thwarted attacks on British soil — struggle to confront a threat that is growing in scale and tempo. 

The agencies say they have disrupted 18 plots since 2013, including five in recent months.

The identities of the two attackers announced Monday fit a pattern. Much like the assailants in the two earlier attacks, these men had British roots and were peripheral to the focus of security agencies.

London’s Metropolitan Police identified the assailants as 27-year-old Butt, a British citizen who was born in Pakistan, and 30-year-old Rachid Redouane, who had claimed to be Moroccan and Libyan. 

Both lived in the Barking area of east London, only a half-hour’s drive from London Bridge and Borough Market — the adjacent areas where victims were targeted Saturday night.

Butt had been investigated in 2015, was known by neighbors to be an extremist and was featured last year in a documentary on Britain’s Channel 4 called “The Jihadis Next Door.” 

But police said that they had no warning of a plot and that their investigation of Butt had been shelved.

Redouane had not been known to the security agencies.

Police say they have 500 ongoing terrorism investigations and are keeping tabs on 3,000 individuals suspected of extremism. Investigations involving known plots, authorities say, take up the bulk of the security services’ resources.

The Islamic State claimed Sunday to have been behind the attack. But experts have cast doubt, noting that the group did not provide any details to prove its involvement. Similar claims in the past have been shown to be unreliable. 

All three assailants in Saturday’s attack were fatally shot by police within eight minutes of the first emergency calls.

Saturday night’s attack injured dozens, including four police officers. Eighteen people remain in critical condition.

Christine Archibald, 30, a Canadian from the western province of British Columbia, was the first victim of the attack to be named. The 30-year-old had worked at a homeless shelter in Calgary before moving to Europe to live with her fiance.

“Please honor her by making your community a better place. Volunteer your time and labor or donate to a homeless shelter. Tell them Chrissy sent you,” her family said in a statement.


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