London attacker told Italian police he 'wanted to be a terrorist'



ROME, June 6 (Reuters) - One of three jihadis who killed seven people in London last week told Italian police he wanted to be a terrorist when they kept him from traveling to the Middle East last year, an Italian prosecutor said on Tuesday.

British police named Moroccan-Italian Youssef Zaghba, 22, as one of the perpetrators of the June 3 attack, the third carried out by Islamists in Britain in as many months.

SEE ALSO: British police name third London attacker as Youssef Zaghba

Zaghba, whose Italian mother lives near the city of Bologna, was stopped at the airport there in 2016 when he was trying to fly to Turkey, city prosecutor Giuseppe Amato told broadcaster Radio24.

"A person going to Turkey with a backpack aroused some suspicion, also because he told the agent who checked him that he wanted to go and be a terrorist, then he corrected himself," Bologna prosecutor Giuseppe Amato told broadcaster Radio24.

Turkey has been routinely used by radical Islamists as a route into areas of Syria controlled by Islamic State.

Investigators confiscated Zaghba's computer but did not have proof of a crime so they had to return the device and pointed him out to London as a possible suspect, Amato said.

"We did not have the elements to prove that he was a terrorist. Some of his behavior made him suspicious."

British police said Zaghba had not been a subject of interest for them or the domestic intelligence agency MI5 before he and two others launched their attack.

They rammed a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, then ran into the Borough Market area, and slit throats and stabbed people indiscriminately before they were shot and killed by police.

Zaghba's mother, who is a convert to Islam, told police she was worried about her son when she went to collect him after he was stopped at the airport, an investigative source said.

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Police respond to report of incidents at London Bridge
People leave the area with their hands up after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Police officers ni the road near Borough on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Counter-terrorism special forces are seen at London Bridge on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
People speak with a police officer after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017 REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 3 : Police officers cordon off the area around London Bridge, central London, after reports of pedestrians being hit by a white van on London Bridge in London, United Kingdom on June 3, 2017. UK Police said Saturday they were responding to two incidents on London Bridge and Borough Market amid reports of a van mowing down pedestrians. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People leave the area after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017 REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Members of the public leave the area at London Bridge on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Police officers clear the area near Borough market at London Bridge on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Armed policeprep up in Borough on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Police officers get changed as they attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
People speak with a police officer after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017 REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Women embrace after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017 REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
People react as police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A photograph taken on a mobile phone shows British police cars blocking the entrance to London Bridge, in central London on June 3, 2017, following an incident on the bridge. Police are dealing with a 'major incident' on London Bridge, Transport for London said on Saturday, after witnesses reported seeing a van mounting the pavement and hitting pedestrians. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel SORABJI (Photo credit should read DANIEL SORABJI/AFP/Getty Images)
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
People leave the area after an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain June 4, 2017 REUTERS/Neil Hall
Police attend to an incident near London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Police attend to an incident on London Bridge in London, Britain, June 3, 2017. Reuters / Hannah McKay
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 3 : Police officers cordon off the area around London Bridge, central London, after reports of pedestrians being hit by a white van on London Bridge in London, United Kingdom on June 3, 2017. UK Police said Saturday they were responding to two incidents on London Bridge and Borough Market amid reports of a van mowing down pedestrians. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: Counter-terrorism special forces are seen at London Bridge on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 3 : Police officers cordon off the area around London Bridge, central London, after reports of pedestrians being hit by a white van on London Bridge in London, United Kingdom on June 3, 2017. UK Police said Saturday they were responding to two incidents on London Bridge and Borough Market amid reports of a van mowing down pedestrians. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 3 : Police officers cordon off the area around London Bridge, central London, after reports of pedestrians being hit by a white van on London Bridge in London, United Kingdom on June 3, 2017. UK Police said Saturday they were responding to two incidents on London Bridge and Borough Market amid reports of a van mowing down pedestrians. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03: A police officer escorts members of the public to safety at London Bridge on June 3, 2017 in London, England. Police have responded to reports of a van hitting pedestrians on London Bridge in central London. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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Italian media said Zaghba was born in the Moroccan city of Fez in 1995, and had broken off relations with his Moroccan father. He lived in Morocco for much of his life but made short visits to his mother.

At the time of the attack, Zaghba was working in a London restaurant, Italian media said. He spent a total of 10 days in Italy in the past year and a half, Amato said.

Near Zaghba's mother's house in Fagnano, 20 km southwest of Bologna, close family friend Franca Lambertini said the young man had gone to London to find work.

"He was very good. A serious boy who was very good," Lambertini said outside her front door.

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