One person is dead and eight more are injured after a 47-year-old man rammed his van into a group of pedestrians leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park around midnight June 19.
Darren Osborne has been identified by media reports as the man that was driving on Seven Sisters Road in North London when his van swerved and struck a group of people leaving worship near Finsbury Park Mosque. Metropolitan Police said that the suspect “was found detained by members of public at the scene and then arrested by police in connection with the incident.” He has since been charged with attempted murder.
According to The Guardian, Osborne is originally from Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset but is living in Cardiff.
His friends told the news outlet that he’s a father-of-four, and one said that he went to Broadoak Mathematics and Computing College with him.
“I went to school with him, I’ve known him for 35 years,” the friend told the news outlet. “It’s 100 percent him. He lives in Wales, he has four kids and a missus.”
Osborne was taken to the hospital “as a precaution,” and was set to undergo a mental health assessment, police said. They added that the suspect would be “taken into custody once discharged.”
Authorities said that counter-terrorism officials joined police in the investigation of the incident and it’s being investigated as a terrorism incident.
The Muslim Council of Britain said that the incident took place outside of Muslim Welfare House and involved many worshipers that were walking from prayer at the mosque.
A witness told Daily Mail that there was more than one suspect in the vehicle and the other two ran away before police arrived, but police said they haven’t received reports of any other suspects.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Worshipers Were Reportedly Assisting a Man That Fainted When the Van Osborne Was Driving Crashed Into Them
Witnesses on scene say that the suspect was driving down the street at around 50 mph when his van swerved and hit a group of pedestrians that were tending to a man that appeared to have fainted on a sidewalk. Some people on the sidewalk were coming from Tarawih, prayers that are performed for Ramadan.
Police said that one victim was pronounced dead at the scene while eight others were taken to three separate hospitals. Two of those victims at hospitals are in “serious” condition. The one man who died at the scene had fainted prior to the suspect ramming his vehicle into pedestrians, and it’s unknown if he died due to the crash.
“The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene, sadly, he has died,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said at a media briefing. “Any causative link between his death and the attack will form part of our investigation. It is too early to state if his death was as a result of the attack.
The van had a rental van logo on it from a rental service in Pontyclun, a village in Wales almost four hours away from Finsbury Park.
One person at the scene, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Press Association that he leaped out of the way as the van headed toward him.
“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,” he said to the news outlet. “There was a lot of people. We got told to move straight away. I was shocked, shocked, shocked. There were bodies around me. Thank God I just moved to the side, I just jumped. Everyone is hurt. Everyone is actually hurt.”
Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation Muslim organization told The Independent that the incident took place outside Muslim Welfare House involving mosque members.
“It happened outside the Muslim Welfare House but people were leaving Finsbury Park Mosque as well so there’s a lot of confusion at the moment,” Shafiq said to the news outlet.
A video shows some of the victims on the ground being tended to with one of them having a makeshift head dressing for his injuries.
The MCB told BBC News that the van “intentionally” ran the group over, and Harun Khan, tweeted that that he was “outraged” to hear of the incident.
One witness described the scene as “chaos” to BBC.
“From the window, I started hearing a lot of yelling and screeching, a lot of chaos outside,” the witness said to the news outlet. “Everybody was shouting: ‘A van’s hit people, a van’s hit people’. There was this white van stopped outside Finsbury Park mosque that seemed to have hit people who were coming out after prayers had finished. I didn’t see the attacker himself, although he seems to have been arrested, but I did see the van.”
The chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque told The Sun: “Whoever did this, he did it to hurt people and it’s a terrorist attack. We call it a terrorist attack as we called it in Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge.”
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2. Witnesses Say the Suspect Shouted ‘I Want to Kill All Muslims’ as He Was Subdued
Social media reports say that after the suspect hit the group of worshipers, bystanders ran to subdue the suspect until police arrived on scene. According to Telegraph, witnesses wrestled the suspect to the ground and pinned him down.
In a TV interview with CNN, witness Saeed Hashi said he was one of the people who held the suspect as police arrived about “10 minutes later.” He said that he saw what happened and approached the driver’s seat of the van when it came to a stop.
Hashi tried to force him out of the vehicle, and he said the suspect was extremely combative. He said that he was punched in the head by the man, who he described as being musclar, and bit on the thumb as two others assisted him in pinning down the suspect.
Hashi said police drove past the incident while he was being held on the ground, but were unaware what was occurring. He said that as they held him to the ground, he was “really shouting and aggressive” and started spitting on them.
An eyewitness told BuzzFeed News that the suspect shouted “I want to kill all Muslims as he was being detained.”
Reports say that an imam from the mosque protected the suspect from members of the public that were angry until police arrived.
In a statement released by the MCB, the organization said that recently Muslims have been the victims of Islamophobia, “and this is the most violent manifestation to date.”
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3. Videos of the Alleged Suspect Being Arrested Were Posted to Social Media
The man believed to be a suspect in the car ramming was arrested by officers once officers they arrived, and those who gathered nearby recorded the arrest.
Another video posted to Twitter showed the suspect locked inside the back of a police van as the group of angry bystanders shout at the man.
Police haven’t yet declared a motive in the crash, and the act hasn’t yet been declared as being deliberate.
A heavy police presence stormed to the Finsbury Park area and tended to the victims of the crash. Helicopters were seen overhead and Seven Sisters Road was closed as police investigated.
One witness reported seeing officers give CPR to victims on the ground.
Prime Minister Theresa May called the incident “terrible” in a statement, adding “all my thoughts are with those who have been injured, their loved ones and the emergency services on the scene.”
The home that was believed to be Osborne’s, located in Glyn Rhosyn in Cardiff’s Pentwyn. was searched by authorities the next day, Wales Online reported.
One neighbor, Pauline Tibbs, told The Guardian that police were investigating the home all day. She added that Osborne often kept quiet and seemed “normal.”
“The police have been back and forwarth here all day,” she said to the news outlet. “It’s a terrible shock. I’ve seen him walking in the street but never spoken to him. He seemed normal enough. He has lived here a couple of years and kept himself to himself.”
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4. The Finsbury Mosque Has Past Ties to Terrorist Groups, but Has Worked to Remake Itself
The Finsbury Mosque has caused controversy in the community with its ties to radical preachers, but has made an effort to remake itself in recent years.
According to the Associated Press, “The Finsbury Park mosque was associated with extremist ideology for several years after the 9/11 attacks in the United States but was shut down and reorganized. It has not been associated with radical views for more than a decade.”
Al-Qaeda operatives such as shoebomber Richard Reid and Zacarias Moussaoui attended the mosque before their attacks, and The Guardian reported in 2002 that “AK-47 training” once took place in the early 200s.
A 2014 article by Telegraph said that, “the Finsbury Park mosque was long known to have served as a clearing house for radical Muslims after Abu Hamza arrived as imam in 1997. His hate-filled rants inspired attendees such as Richard Reid, the failed “shoe bomber”, Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the 9/11 terror plotters, and Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the four suicide bombers who blew themselves up on public transport in London on July 7, 2005.”
The mosque was raided by Metropolitan Police and shut down. Over 100 police officers raided the building as part of an investigation into a ricin plot, and Hamza was failed for seven years. It re-opened two years later, and its worked to reclaim its image.
It holds a weekly program called the “Meal for All,” which sees members provide hot meals for the homeless. The mosque also runs weekly programs for children within the community and other events aimed at tacking hate crimes.
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5. The Finsbury Incident Comes 3 Weeks After London Bridge Car Ramming
The car ramming incident in Finsbury comes three weeks after terrorists drove a van into a group of pedestrians on London Bridge before storming through the area with knives. Eight people were killed before the three suspects were killed by police.
An ISIS magazine article from November 2016 encouraged operatives to use vehicles to plow into crowds and carry a secondary weapon.
Two weeks before that, a suicide bomber killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.
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