7 giugno 14:36  |  English Edition

Bologna, June 7 – Valeria Collina, 68, the mother of one of the three London Bridge attackers, 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian national Youssef Zaghba, has said her son met the “wrong people” in Barking in East London. Collina, who lives in the small town of Fagnano di Valsamoggia near Bologna, said Wednesday she had realised “from a glance” that her son had been radicalised. She told investigators she didn’t know much about her son’s life in Britain although she thought he had a regular job. “We had always checked his friends to make sure he didn’t trust the wrong people”, she told Espresso magazine in an exclusive interview. However, she added that Barking “never gave me a sense of serenity” and her son, who died in the June 3 terror attack, met the “wrong people there”. “He never let anyone influence him before, neither in Italy nor in Morocco, where he studied computer science at the University of Fez”, she said, noting however that “he had internet and you get everything there”. Collina converted to Islam when she married Youssef’s father, a Moroccan national. The parents, who are separated, also have a daughter, Khaoutar, who lives in Bologna. Collina moved back to Italy two years ago while her former husband still lives in Fes, where Zaghba was born and grew up. She said her son called her two days before the attack and that “I now realize he had planned it to say goodbye”. “Although he didn’t tell me anything specific, I could feel it in his voice”, she told the magazine. Collina said didn’t answer the phone the following day and that she had been unable to contact him through a friend who also lives in London. The mother cooperated with investigators after her son was detained by police in March 2016 as he was trying to board a flight to Istanbul at Bologna airport. Police stopped and detained him because he had a one-wat ticket and was only carrying a backpack, suspecting he intended to reach Syria via Turkey to join ISIS. He was investigated but not charged and later moved to London. Zaghba’s details were however uploaded to a Europe-wide database of potential criminals after he was stopped in Bologna. “In the past, even before he tried to take that flight, he showed me a few videos on Syria”, his mother said. “But he never spoke about going there to fight – Syria represented for him a place where it was possible to live according to a pure Islam”. Although she is a practicing Muslim, Collina told the publication that she agreed with the imams who refused to celebrate her son’s funeral. “It is necessary to give a strong political signal, a message to the families of victims and to non-Muslims”. The mother’s aunt Franca Lambertini, who is also her neighbor, said Youssef had visited his mother twice over the past year and a half. “I always saw him as a good boy but he spoke little”, said Lambertini. Valsamoggia Mayor Daniele Ruscigno said the only family member to permanently reside in the town was Collina after she had spent “a long time abroad”. According to diplomatic sources, Youssef Zaghba was on the roll of Italians residing abroad in Casablanca, Morocco, until March 2016. He was then reported as a resident in Fagnano, Bologna, but was not registered in London, according to the sources.