Thursday, 8 June 2017
London attacker Youssef Zaghba's mother 'ashamed' to mourn her son
The mother of one of the London Bridge attackers has said she is “ashamed” to mourn her son after he took part in the massacre of at least eight people. Valeria Khadija Collina, an Italian woman living in Bologna, said Youseff Zaghba had phoned her for what she later realised was a “goodbye” call on Thursday.
“Even though he didn't say anything in particular, I could hear it in his voice,” she told L’Espresso.
“We joked about how he would greet me at the airport in London. I was due to go there in ten days to celebrate the end of the month of Ramadan.”
But when Ms Collina contacted her son the next day he did not reply, then his father living in Morocco called to say Zaghba could not be reached. On Tuesday morning, Italian counter-terror police knocked on Ms Collina’s door and said her son was dead, among three suspected Isis reporters killed by police during a bloody rampage through Borough Market.
The mother said she was thinking of her son’s victims, adding: “I can understand from my own personal tragedy.
“But I don't even have the courage to compare my pain to theirs. It's as if I were ashamed to say 'I'm also a mother, I'm also suffering.'”
Hundreds of imams have refused to say funeral prayers for the terrorists – a choice the mother says she supports to send a “strong political signal”.
Zaghba, an Italian citizen, is believed to have lived in Ilford since 2015, but regularly returned to Italy.
There were suggestions he struggled financially while working at a restaurant in east London.
A crowdfunding account was set up in his name attempting to raise £200 for a “new pair of shoes”, but no money had been donated by 26 January, when the page closed.
“I really need the shoes guys, trust me,” said a message posed alongside a photo appearing to show Zaghba's feet in a pair of old black trainers.
In March last year, he was arrested at Bologna airport after attempting to travel to Syria, telling police he “wanted to be a terrorist”.
Italian authorities who found him in possession of Isis propaganda said he was put on a Europe-wide terror watchlist after the incident, with information shared with MI5.
Ms Collina said she believed her son was radicalised in the UK, and was concerned about videos of Syria he showed her.
“He thought Syria was a place where you could live according to a pure Islam,” she added.
“He said it was a dream they had sent to him through the internet. I always said there were horrible things that they didn’t show him.
“Unfortunately I was not able to change his mind....when children make mistakes, parents always feel some guilt. But I did my best, and I think he was worn down on the inside."