One Dead, 8 Hospitalized as London Terror Attack Targets Muslims Leaving Prayers
Survivors of the attack in Finsbury Park bravely detained the suspected terrorist—a white man aged 48—and handed him over to the authorities.
Just after midnight, people were giving first aid to a man who had fallen ill when a van was driven into the crowd. The man who was being treated died at the scene and eight more people have been taken to hospitals in London. At least two of those victims are in a “very serious” condition, according to police.
The attack is Britain’s fourth terrorist atrocity in just three months, the most sustained period of terror-related violence in a generation.
Survivors of the attack in Finsbury Park bravely detained the suspected terrorist—a white man aged 48—and handed him over to authorities.
Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, said an imam helped ensure that none of the angry friends of the victims seriously harmed the suspect.
“People grabbed him outside and started hitting him,” he told Sky. “Our imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, went there and saved him. He saved his life basically. The imam of the mosque saved the life of the attacker.”
Neil Basu, the national coordinator for counterterrorism policing, praised the crowd for its restraint in peacefully detaining the suspect, while the first officers at the scene treated some of the victims.
“It appears that this attacker acted alone,” he said. “This was an attack on London against all Londoners and we should all stand together against extremists whatever their cause.”
Scotland Yard will interrogate the suspect later today as they try to ascertain whether the man had any help in preparing the attack. The van he was driving appeared to have been rented from a Welsh hire company in Cardiff.
Witnesses at the scene said the man was shouting that he wanted to “Kill all Muslims” and was throwing punches as three members of the public tackled him to the ground.
“He was screaming before that—‘I’m going to kill all Muslims,’" Saleh Alamoudi told BuzzFeed. “He was throwing punches all over.”
Another resident told Britain’s Press Association he jumped out of the way as the van hurtled toward him, adding “The gentleman went straight down this road, people were just conversing, talking, just doing what we’re doing. And he just came into all of us. There was a lot of people. I was shocked, shocked, shocked. There were bodies around me.”
The attack came 12 months after a radical right-wing terrorist murdered Jo Cox, a member of Parliament who was campaigning against Brexit before last year’s referendum.
"My thoughts are with all those affected by the appalling incident at Finsbury Park," said Amber Rudd, the home secretary. “Yesterday, like so many others around the country, I took part in the Great Get Together to celebrate the values of Jo Cox. It was powerful and moving to see the community come together in a show of solidarity. We must all continue to stand together, resolute, against all those who try to divide us and spread hate and fear.”
Rudd confirmed that the police were treating the incident as a terrorist attack immediately after it took place, despite claims by some of the Muslim community that this attack was being treated differently because it targeted people of the Muslim faith.
The attack came as people were walking home from the Muslim Welfare House as well as the Finsbury Park mosque, a controversial place of worship that has seen a remarkable turnaround in recent years.
Prayers were once led by the hook-handed radical preacher Abu Hamza, who was convicted on 11 terror charges in Manhattan in 2014. Al Qaeda-linked 9/11 plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and the failed shoe-bomber Richard Reid were among Abu Hamza’s followers.
The mosque was raided in 2003 and shut down after armed police found weapons, forged passports, and stolen credit cards hidden inside.
The mosque was re-opened in 2005 under new leadership and it won an award in 2014 for its transformation.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who lives a few yards from the two Islamic centers, has already visited the Muslim Welfare House around the corner where the worshippers were mowed down. He will attend Finsbury Park mosque and join a prayer service later Monday.
“I am shocked by this horrific and cruel attack in Finsbury Park, which is being treated as an act of terror,” he said. "I call on everyone to stand together against those who seek to divide us."
Prime Minister Theresa May chaired an emergency COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) meeting Monday morning. Speaking afterwards, she was forced to address the nation once again from the steps of Downing Street.
“Today we come together, as we have done before, to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed,” she said. “Like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same goal: to drive us apart. We will not let this happen.”
May said the Conservative government would set up a commission for countering extremism—which would seek new ways to undermine and clamp down on hate speech. "There has been far too much tolerance of extremism in this country," she said. "That's extremism of any kind—including Islamophobia."