Why has Italy been spared mass terror attacks in recent years?
Experts say Italy has learned harsh lessons from anti-mafia policing, understands dangers of radicalisation in jail, and also relies on surveillance and deportation.
Each time Youssef Zaghba landed in Bologna, there was someone waiting for him as he got off the plane. It was no secret in Italy that the 22-year-old Moroccan-born Italian, identified as one of three terrorists behind the London Bridge attack, was under close surveillance.
“They would talk to him at the airport. Then, during his stay, police officers would come a couple of times a day to check on him,” his mother, Valeria Collina, said in an interview with the Guardian.
“They were friendly to Youssef. They would say: ‘Hey son, tell me what you have been doing. What are you doing? How are you?’”
In the weeks since the attack, Zaghba’s role has shone a light on the differences between how terror suspects are handled in Italy and the UK. Upon his arrival in London, Zaghba’s mother said, he was never once stopped at the airport or interrogated, even though Italian officials had warned British counterparts that he was a threat.
Franco Gabrielli, Italy’s chief of police, has said of Italy’s efforts to alert the UK: “Our conscience is clear.”
Scotland Yard, in turn, has said Zaghba “was not a police or MI5 subject of interest”.