Sus­pect not known to au­thor­i­ties be­fore mosque ram­page


Peo­ple gath­ered for a vigil Mon­day at Fins­bury Park in north Lon­don, where a van plowed into Mus­lim wor­ship­pers leav­ing mosques from Ra­madan prayers just af­ter mid­night. One man died at the scene, and at least nine peo­ple were in­jured. The as­sailant used the same tac­tic as Is­lamic ex­trem­ists in re­cent deadly ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Europe.

LON­DON | The rash of deadly ter­ror at­tacks that has rat­tled Bri­tain in re­cent months took an omi­nous new turn on Mon­day as Mus­lim wor­ship­pers be­came tar­gets dur­ing the holy month of Ra­madan, mowed down by an at­tacker who plowed a van into a crowd leav­ing prayers at two mosques in north Lon­don.

It was the same tac­tic Is­lamic ex­trem­ists used in re­cent as­saults on West­min­ster Bridge and Lon­don Bridge. Those at­tacks and a third out­side a pop con­cert in Manch­ester have trig­gered a surge in hate crimes against Mus­lims around Bri­tain.

Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, and Is­lamic lead­ers moved swiftly to ease con­cerns in the Mus­lim com­mu­nity fol­low­ing the at­tack shortly af­ter mid­night that in­jured at least nine peo­ple in Lon­don’s Fins­bury Park neigh­bor­hood, which is home to a large Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion.

Au­thor­i­ties said the in­ci­dent was be­ing treated as a ter­ror at­tack. One man died at the scene, although he was re­ceiv­ing first aid at the time and it wasn’t clear if he died as a re­sult of the at­tack or from some­thing else.

Bri­tish me­dia iden­ti­fied the sus­pect as Dar­ren Os­borne, a 47-year-old Bri­ton and fa­ther of four liv­ing in Cardiff, Wales, who was not known to au­thor­i­ties be­fore the at­tack. De­tails about the as­sailant were sketchy, but the as­sault — the most dra­matic against Mus­lims in Lon­don in re­cent years — sug­gested a new, dan­ger­ous level of po­lar­iza­tion in Bri­tish so­ci­ety.

“This was an at­tack on Mus­lims near their place of wor­ship,” Mrs. May said in a tele­vised ad­dress. “And like all ter­ror­ism, in what­ever form, it shares the same fun­da­men­tal goal. It seeks to drive us apart — and to break the pre­cious bonds of sol­i­dar­ity and cit­i­zen­ship that we share in this coun­try. We will not let this hap­pen.”

Mayor Sadiq Khan, Lon­don’s first Mus­lim mayor, also urged res­i­dents to stand to­gether.

“While this ap­pears to be an at­tack on a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­nity, like the ter­ri­ble at­tacks in Manch­ester, West­min­ster and Lon­don Bridge, it is also an as­sault on all our shared val­ues of tol­er­ance, free­dom and re­spect,” Mr. Khan said, adding that there would be “zero tol­er­ance” for hate crimes.

Mrs. May said po­lice would as­sess se­cu­rity at mosques and pro­vide any ad­di­tional re­sources needed ahead of up­com­ing celebrations mark­ing the end of Ra­madan.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice Ser­vice, al­ready stretched by in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the ear­lier at­tacks and a high-rise apart­ment fire that killed at least 79 peo­ple, said it was putting ex­tra pa­trols on the streets to pro­tect the pub­lic.

The at­tack oc­curred about 12:20 a.m. when a speed­ing white van swerved into wor­ship­pers emerg­ing from prayers out­side the Mus­lim Wel­fare House and nearby Fins­bury Park Mosque. Peo­ple sur­rounded the driver and wit­nesses said the out­raged crowd be­gan at­tack­ing him. A lo­cal imam, Mo­hammed Mah­moud, said he and oth­ers shielded the man un­til po­lice could take him away.

“By God’s grace, we were able to pro­tect him from harm,” the imam said.

Toufik Kacimi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Mus­lim Wel­fare House, told Sky News the at­tack clearly tar­geted Mus­lims, say­ing the driver acted de­lib­er­ately and was not drunk or men­tally ill.

“The driver of the van, said, ‘I did my bit,’ which means he’s not men­tally ill,” Mr. Kacimi said. “This per­son was con­scious. He did what he did de­lib­er­ately to hit and kill as many Mus­lims as pos­si­ble, so he is a ter­ror­ist.”

But Mr. Kacimi said there was no need for the Mus­lim com­mu­nity to panic, be­cause po­lice and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials have been “very, very sup­port­ive.”

“At this stage, we are call­ing for calm,” he said.

U.S. of­fi­cials said Pres­i­dent Trump was be­ing reg­u­larly briefed on the in­ci­dent and “strongly con­demned” the ram­page. The ad­min­is­tra­tion “made it very clear to our Bri­tish al­lies that we stand ready to pro­vide any sup­port or as­sis­tance they need,” spokesman Sean Spicer told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton.

The at­tack oc­curred out­side the Mus­lim Wel­fare House, a small mosque with about 200 con­gre­gants. Nearby, evening prayer ser­vices had just con­cluded at the larger Fins­bury Park Mosque, which was as­so­ci­ated with ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy for sev­eral years af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks. How­ever, the mosque was shut down and re­or­ga­nized and has not been as­so­ci­ated with rad­i­cal views for more than a decade.

The mosque’s cur­rent lead­ers say they sup­port in­ter­faith di­a­logue and want to serve the com­mu­nity in north Lon­don, which is lo­cated near Emi­rates Sta­dium, home of the Arse­nal soc­cer club.



“This was an at­tack on Mus­lims near their place of wor­ship,” said Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May (sec­ond right). Au­thor­i­ties said they were treat­ing it as a ter­ror at­tack.

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