Youssef Zaghba has been identified by police as one of three men who carried out a terror attack in London on Saturday.
Zaghba, 22, was of Morrocan-Italian descent, and reports emerged in Italian media that he “was stopped at a Bologna airport in 2016 with a one-way ticket to Istanbul. It was thought he was bound for Syria,” CNN reported.
According to the Guardian, Zaghba had extremist material on his phone and told authorities, “I am going to be a terrorist.”
He was not arrested at the time because having extremist materials is not a crime in Italy. British authorities say he was not a person of interest to them prior to the attack.
The trio of assailants drove a vehicle into pedestrians on the London Bridge and then stabbed multiple people at a nearby market, London Metropolitan Police say. Seven people were killed and dozens were injured.
ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The investigation into the recent terror attack remains ongoing.
This story is still developing and will be updated with more information about the attacker:
1. The Attackers Struck Several Pedestrians on the London Bridge, Abandoned Their Van & Stabbed Numerous People in the Borough Market
The incident began Saturday just before 10 p.m., the London Metropolitan Police said in a press release.
The three attackers were inside a white Renault van recently rented by one of them, police said.
“Our understanding is growing and as we currently understand it the van entered London Bridge at 21:58 travelling from the North to the South side of the river,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, a police spokesman, said. “The van mounted the pavement, and collided with pedestrians before being abandoned, where the attackers, armed with knives, continued into the Borough Market area, stabbing numerous people.”
Rowley said seven people were killed, along with the three attackers, who were fatally shot by police.
“The attackers were then confronted by the firearms officers and I can confirm that eight police firearms officers discharged their weapons. Whilst this will be subject to thorough investigation by the IPCC our initial assessment is that in the region of 50 rounds were discharged by 8 officers. The three attackers were shot dead,” Rowley said.
“Work to inform the next of kin of the victims is ongoing – this may take some time, as we believe some of these victims are from abroad,” Rowley said.
“36 people remain in hospital, suffering from a range of injuries – some of which are extremely serious. 21 remain in a critical condition,” he said.
““The public can expect to see additional police – both armed and unarmed officers – across the Capital as you would expect in these circumstances,” said Rowley. “And our security and policing plans for events are being reviewed, the public will also see increased physical measures on London’s bridges to keep the public safe.”
2. They Were Wearing Fake Suicide Belts to Try to Keep Officers Away, but Police Risked Their Lives to Take Them Down
Authorities said the three attackers were wearing fake suicide belts in an effort to keep police officers away from them. But heroic officers risked their lives to take down the terrorists, according to police.
“Indeed I am not surprised that faced with what they must have feared were three suicide bombers – the firearms officers fired an unprecedented number of rounds to be completely confident they had neutralised those threats,” Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said. “I am humbled by the bravery of an officer who will rush towards a potential suicide bomber thinking only of protecting others.”
Rowley said the officer who took on the attackers was seriously injured.
“You will have heard earlier today about the British Transport Police officer who sustained injuries in the attack,” Rowley said. “I can confirm that an off duty Met-Officer, based on Southwark borough, was caught up in the attack. Fortunately he has not suffered life threatening injuries, but he remains in hospital in a serious condition.”
The transport officer was armed only with a baton when he took on the three knife-wielding assailants, not concerned about the possible suicide vests they were wearing, British Transport Police Chief Paul Crowther told the Associated Press.
The unnamed officer was stabbed in the face, head and leg, Crowther said.
“It became clear that he showed enormous courage in the face of danger,” the chief said. “For an officer who only joined us less than two years ago, the bravery he showed was outstanding and makes me extremely proud.”
The officer is in stable condition.
3. Authorities Have Carried Out Raids Across London, Detaining Several People & Conducting Interviews
Authorities have carried out raids across London in the hours after the attack, according to the London Metropolitan Police.
Twelve arrests were made at two locations in the Barking section of the city:
[A] 38-year-old woman arrested at address 1 in Barking;
[B] 28-year-old man arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[C] 52-year-old man arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[D] 55-year-old man arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[E] 27-year-old man arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[F] 55-year-old man arrested at address 2 in Barking, who has since been released without charge;
[G] 49-year-old woman arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[H] 60-year-old woman arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[I] 19-year-old woman arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[J] 27-year-old female arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[K] 24-year-old female arrested at address 2 in Barking;
[L] 53-year-old woman arrested at address 2 in Barking;
The arrests were made under the Terrorism Act, police said.
Police said raids were also carried out at two homes in Newham, though no one was detained. Investigators spoke to several people at those locations.
A fourth set of raids was carried out early Monday in east London, police said. Those took place in Newham and Barking at two locations. No one has been detained, but interviews were underway.
Police said that all those detained have been released from custody without charges.
4. ISIS Has Claimed Through Its News Agency That a ‘Detachment’ of Its Soldiers Carried Out the Attack
ISIS has claimed through its Amaq News Agency that the attack was carried out by a “detachment” of its soldiers, the Site Intelligence Group reports.
Police have not yet confirmed the connection to ISIS. It is not clear if the three attackers were directly connected to the terrorist group or if they were influenced by it.
“This is how ISIS decentralizes its terrorism,” Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, a business risk intelligence company in New York that tracks militant threats and cyberthreats, told the New York Times. “As of now, there’s no indication that ISIS orchestrated or directed these attacks.”
5. The Attack Is the 3rd Major Terrorist Incident in England Since March
The London Bridge attack is the third since March 2017. First, a terrorist, Khalid Masood, drove into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and tried to storm UK Parliament.
Then, Salman Abedi blew himself up in a crowd of people leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Manchester and also at London Bridge and Borough Market.
Six people died in the Westminster Bridge attack, and 22 perished in the Manchester bombing.
On Sunday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said “enough is enough” and said tougher measures are needed to crack down on those who recruit others to commit acts of terrorism. She said “terrorism breeds terrorism,” with attackers copying each other. Saturday’s attack was similar to a December assault carried out by a lone man who was inspired by ISIS. In that attack, the assailant drove into pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, before crashing near the Parliament and attacking police officers before he was shot dead.
“Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would,” May said. “Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.”
She said the British people need to shut down the “safe spaces” that allow extremism to build, saying communities need to fight the “perversion of Islam,” and adding, “there is, to be frank, far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.”
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