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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 20 March, 2018

Man arrested over London attack as police search house

The third attacker was named by police last night.

Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba (L-R)
Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba (L-R)
Image: Metropolitan Police

POLICE INVESTIGATING THE London Bridge terror attack carried out a search at an address in east London in the early hours of this morning.

Officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, supported by officers from the Territorial Support Group, entered the address in Ilford at around 1.30am.

A 30-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorist acts and has been taken into custody at a south London police station under the Terrorism Act 2000.

A search of the address is ongoing.

Last night, police named the third attacker in the weekend terror assault, who Italy had previously flagged as a possible jihadist.

Police identified the third attacker as Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Italian national of Moroccan descent, a day after naming his accomplices as Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, a Pakistan-born Briton, and Rachid Redouane, 30, a self-described Moroccan-Libyan dual national.

Butt “was known to the police and MI5″, the domestic security service, but there was no intelligence to suggest the attack was being planned, the Metropolitan Police said.

He had notably featured in a Channel 4 television documentary entitled The Jihadis Next Door and, according to the British media, numerous people alarmed by his views had gone to the authorities.

Zaghba was “not a police or MI5 subject of interest”, police added. But an Italian prosecutor said Zaghba was flagged to Britain as a “possible suspect” back in March 2016.

Bologna prosecutor Giuseppe Amato said the warning had been transmitted after Zaghba was intercepted at the city’s airport trying to board a plane for Turkey, en route for Syria.

Zaghba’s Italian mother, Valeria Collina, said her son had been radicalised online and fell into the wrong crowd in London. “I have been there and I did not like it. He was mixing with the wrong people,” she told Italian weekly L’Espresso.

Collina said she understood many British imams want to send a strong signal and have said they are not prepared to give her son a Muslim funeral. “I understand that asking to be forgiven means nothing, that’s why I promise to dedicate my life to ensuring this does not happen again,” she said.

Irish arrests

Redouane married a British citizen in Ireland in 2012 and was not under surveillance, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Two men were arrested by gardaí over documentation related to Redouane, one of whom has been released without charge.

In Britain a 27-year-old man remains in custody, while 12 people held following the attack have since been released.

The London attack follows the 22 May suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena by Salman Abedi — killing 22 people, including children — who was also known to British intelligence services.

May under pressure

Prime Minister Theresa May vowed a hardline approach to terrorism, promising longer prison sentences and restricting the freedom and movements of terrorist suspects.

“And if our human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change the laws so we can do it,” she told supporters on Tuesday.

May’s comments came ahead of tomorrow’s general election, with the campaign dominated by security issues.

She has faced criticism for her record on security in the six years she served as Britain’s interior minister before becoming prime minister last year.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn took aim at May’s response: “We will always keep the law under review, but don’t believe would-be terrorists and suicide bombers will be deterred by longer sentences or restricting our rights at home.”

He also pledged to hire more police officers, following a drop in 20,000 officers between 2009 and 2016, or around 14%, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank.

Security has dominated the campaign ahead of the general election, which was called by May on 18 April when her Conservative Party held a commanding lead over rivals Labour.

According to a poll published yesterday by the group Survation, May’s one-time 20-point lead over Labour has shrivelled to just over a single point — 41.6% to 40.4%.

International victims

Yesterday a nationwide minute’s silence was held for the victims of the London attack, which started when the three assailants mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge in a van.

Wearing fake suicide vests, they went on to stab revellers in the nearby Borough Market before being shot dead by police.

Amaq, an outlet affiliated with the Islamic State group, said the attack was carried out by “a detachment of fighters from Islamic State”.

A Canadian charity worker, a Frenchman working at a bistro in the market, and two Australians — including a nurse — are among the dead. Citizens of several nations are among the 48 injured, including Australia, Bulgaria, France, Greece and New Zealand.

Some 32 are still in hospital, 15 of whom are in a critical condition.

© AFP 2017 with reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: ‘She died trying to help people’: Victims’ families pay tribute to loved ones

Read: ‘Evil extremists will not win’: Minute’s silence to be held for London victims

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