Rabat - Valeria Khadija Collina, the mother of the Moroccan-Italian London Bridge attacker Youssef Zaghba, spoke to journalists on Wednesday, saying the internet caused her son’s extremism.
Rabat – Valeria Khadija Collina, the mother of the Moroccan-Italian London Bridge attacker Youssef Zaghba, spoke to journalists on Wednesday, saying the internet caused her son’s extremism.
Collina said that while she had always tried “to monitor his friends, making sure he didn’t hang out with the wrong people,” her attempts were fruitless given “he had the internet and everything came from there.”
She continued that the 22 year-old had shown her videos online about Syria, “a place where he thought he could live as a ‘pure Muslim’.” She added that he spoke like he had been “brainwashed by the internet,” and although she had tried to dissuade him telling him of the “terrible things going on there [Syria],” she was unable to change his mind.
The 68-year old Italian woman advised all parents to stay vigilant regarding their children’s relationships to the internet, saying it was this that “caused the extremism” of her son, adding that she considered the internet to be “a huge danger to children.”
Collina revealed that she spoke to her son on the phone only two days before the attack, which caused the death of eight people. She said that the talk with her son was unusually “nice and loving.” She added that she is now aware that the kind disposition of the conversation was because he was saying goodbye without her knowing.
During Collina’s talks with international journalists at her home on June 7, she asked that her face be hidden, out of worry for her life. Prior to this press conference, she had spoken only to Brahim Maarad, a writer for Italian newspaper L’Expresso. She spoke to Maarad on Tuesday evening, the same day that Italian authorities informed her that her son had been killed after carrying out the London attack.
Collina said that when authorities visited her this week, she had thought they would discuss her son’s disappearance, which she had reported to local police after neither she nor his father could reach him following her phone call.
She was not surprised when officers instead told her, “we came to tell you another thing…your son is dead.” Collina said that she suspected Zaghba could be dead , especially when the names of the two other attackers, who she knew as his friends, were made public.
Zaghba was known to Italian authorities, who stopped him from boarding a flight to Istanbul at Bologna airport in March 2016 after he told them, “I am going to be a terrorist.”
In an article dated Tuesday June 6, The Guardian revealed that anti-terrorism authorities in Italy had issued a warning to border police in early 2016 “to signal and point our [sic] every suspect from Morocco who is leaving from Italy to Istanbul.” The British newspaper added that there were warnings of “frequent movements of suspected terrorists from Morocco holding Italian passports, trying to reach Syria via Istanbul.”
It has since been revealed that Italian authorities had informed MI6 in Rome and had pointed him out as a potential foreign fighter on the Schengen Information System, an international border control alert system.
While the Home Office refused to discuss why Zaghba had been allowed entry to the UK, Damian Green, the former Minister of State for Immigration at the UK’s Home Office, has said the Schengen Information System alone should have been enough to prevent his entry.
Born in Fes in 1995, Zaghba studied computer science at the city’s university. When his parents separated, he moved with his mother to the small town of Castello di Serravalle near Bologna, whilst his father remained in Morocco. It is believed he moved to east London in 2015, where he worked at a fast food restaurant and volunteered at a children’s gymnastics club.
Zaghba was one of three attackers who killed eight people and injured at least 48 in London’s London Bridge area on Saturday June 3. Along with two other attackers, who have been named as British national Khuram Butt and Moroccan-Libyan Rachid Redouane, the trio drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and then exited the van to attack people in nearby Borough Market.