Family of 47-year-old Finsbury Park terror attack suspect: he's been 'troubled for a long time'

Picture: Getty Images
  • A van ploughed into pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.
  • One man has been killed and 10 people have been injured. Police said they were investigating whether the dead man was killed in the incident or by a prior illness.
  • Police are treating this as a terrorist attack.
  • A 47-year-old man is being held for terrorism offences. He has been identified as Darren Osborne, according to the BBC.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack as “every bit as sickening” as previous terrorist atrocities.
  • Attacker not known to security services.
  • Police are searching a property in Cardiff.
  • Hundreds came out Monday night for a vigil held at Finsbury Park Mosque.

LONDON —  A 47-year-old man is being held on terrorism offences after the van he was driving ploughed into pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque in North London on Monday morning, injuring 10.

Eight people were taken to local hospitals and two others were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Another man was pronounced dead at the scene, though it is not clear if this was related to the attack or a prior illness. He was receiving first aid from the public at the same time of the incident, police said.

The white rented van, which was owned by a Welsh-based company, went through a bus lane, mounted the pavement, and hit a group of worshippers leaving one of London’s biggest mosques just after midnight. The Muslim Council of Britain said the van intentionally ran over worshippers who were breaking Ramadan fast.

The Imam, the leader of the mosque, came out to protect the attacker when the crowd tried to hit him, according to eyewitnesses.

The suspect was named as Darren Osborne and is from the Cardiff area, according to the BBC. He is understood to have four children.

According to eyewitness Khalid Amin, who spoke to BBC, the attacker said: “I want to kill all Muslims.”

Security Minister Ben Wallace said the arrested suspect was not known to security services. “This man was not known to the authorities in the space of extremism or far right extremism and he clearly took advantage of a simple weapon, a vehicle, to make an attack on people going about their business, ” he told Sky News.

Police believe the suspect acted alone, but searches are being carried out at a residential address in the Cardiff area, police said in a statement released on Monday afternoon, where Osborne is reported to be from. 

The sister of the suspect told Press Association that she is “very sorry for what’s happened,” speaking outside her house in Somerset. The family said he “has been troubled for a long time, “according to the BBC, but that he is “not a racist.”

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May. Photo: Getty Images.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who chaired an emergency meeting later on Monday, said the attack that “targeted the ordinary and the innocent.”

“Today we come together as we have done before to condemn this act and state an act of hatred of this kind will never succeed in dividing us. Like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same goal: to drive us apart. We will not let this happen.”

She added that extra police forces have already been deployed on the streets of London.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also delivered a statement on Monday morning. He said he had spoken to “community organisations in the area, local MP Jeremy Corbyn and leader of the council Richard Watts.”

“We don’t yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan,” he added. “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.”

Khan later visited the scene in North London and gave a statement urging the government not to cut spending on the Met Police Service:

“Don’t do it” – London Mayor Sadiq Khan urges government to halt cuts of £400m to police budget #FinsburyPark https://t.co/3A5ouLb4Ph pic.twitter.com/dNfay58JCq
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 19, 2017

Khan’s warning about police cuts follows similar pleas from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and both high-ranking and former high-ranking police officers in the final weeks of the election campaign. 

How the attack unfolded

Just after midnight on Monday, a van went through a bus lane, mounted a pavement and hit a number of people leaving one of London’s biggest mosques, in Finsbury Park, north London. Below, a police forensics officer examines the van believed to be involved in an incident:

The van-hire company released a statement, after the van the suspect used was clearly from the Pontyclun Van Hire group (located in South Wales), according to all the pictures:

“We at Pontyclun Van Hire are shocked and saddened by the incident that took place at Finsbury Park last night.

“We are cooperating fully with the Metropolitan police and our thoughts are with those who have been injured in this cowardly attack.

“We will not be making any further statement because of the ongoing police investigation but will continue to assist the police in any way we can.”

Here is a map of where the attack took place:

A video has circulated of the arrest, where the police load the man in the van while crowds shout:

Sky News reported that the Imam, the leader of the mosque, came out to protect the attacker when the crowd tried to hit him, according to eyewitnesses.

Toufik Kacimi, the CEO of the Muslim Welfare Council, called for “calm” and said that the police and Jeremy Corbyn, who is the MP for the constituency, has been very helpful. He said the “guy did what he did deliberately and this is not a mental health issue,” to Sky News. He said an eyewitness told him that the attacker said “I did my bit” after he rammed a van into people on a pavement. He added that this confirms it was a deliberate attack.

After the attack, men prayed on the pavement near the mosque in Finsbury Park.

Theresa May condemns ‘sickening’ attack, praises ‘brave’ worshippers who detained attacker

Screen Shot 2017 06 19 at 11.47.23 (2)Sky NewsThe Prime Minister Theresa May

On Monday morning,  Prime Minister Theresa May gave a televised speech decrying the terrorist attack.

Speaking at Number 10 Downing Street, May said no act of terror will succeed dividing the nation, no matter how hateful or evil:

“It was an attack that targeted the ordinary and the innocent,” the prime minister said.

“Today we come together as we have done before to condemn this act and state an act of hatred of this kind will never succeed in dividing us.

“Like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same goal: to drive us apart. We will not let this happen.”

She added that extra police forces have already been deployed on the streets of London.

Read more on May’s speech here.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and the MP for the constituency where the mosque is, said in an emailed statement:

“I am shocked by this horrific and cruel attack in Finsbury Park, which is being treated as an act of terror. I offer my condolences to the family and friends of the man who has died, and our thoughts are with the people who have been injured, their family and friends.

“As the local MP, I have met with Muslim community leaders at the Muslim Welfare House alongside Islington Council Leader Richard Watts, the council’s Chief Executive Lesley Seary and the Metropolitan Police.

“Richard and I will attend prayers at Finsbury Park mosque later today. I appeal for people and the media to remain calm and respectful of those affected.

“In the meantime, I call on everyone to stand together against those who seek to divide us.”

Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd said:

“My thoughts are with all those affected by the appalling incident at Finsbury Park. I am in contact with the Metropolitan Police who have confirmed it is being investigated by their Counter Terrorism Command.

“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.”

US President Donald Trump is yet to comment on the attack, however, his press secretary Sean Spicer said:

“The president has been made aware of the attack in London, is receiving consistent updates from the staff.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families – and we’ve made it very clear to our British allies that we stand ready to provide any support or assistance that they may need.”

Police clarify misinformation that spread after the attack

After the van hit the crowd in Finsbury Park, there was a number of claims being reported by the media, citing eyewitness reports:

  • There was more than one attacker.
  • There were knives involved.
  • The emergency services took around an hour to arrive.

For example, this eyewitness was telling Sky News and others that emergency services took nearly an hour to get to the incident and victims and questioned why the emergency response was slow compared to the London Bridge attacks:

One visibly shocked Muslim man in his mid-30s, who declined to be named, told Business Insider’s senior reporter Rob Price that he was angry with police because they allegedly took over 30 minutes to arrive.

All these were confirmed as false, by the police.

Deputy Assistance Commissioner Neil Basu said:

  • There was just one suspect of the attack, who has been arrested, and they are not searching for any other suspects. “There was no one else in the van,” said Basu.
  • The 48-year-old man arrested, was arrested on suspicion of murder.
  • There were no knives involved.
  • The emergency services were at the scene within 10 minutes.

Basu also said that it is too early to tell whether the man who died at the scene was killed in the attack. Apparently the man who was receiving first aid at the time, was ill prior to the incident.

The aftermath

The Faiths Forum for London has organised a vigil at the Finsbury Park mosque Monday evening, “In solidarity with everyone affected and standing united in peace”:


People have paid their respects by laying flowers outside the mosque:

Picture: Getty Images

Alex Spurgeon, a Finsbury Park resident, and a friend told Business Insider’s senior report Rob Price at the scene:

“I heard a helicopter very low overhead and a lot of sirens, but didn’t think anything of it as it’s very busy road.

“The next morning the police were outside my front door blocking access to seven sisters road.

“I was at the Muslim Welfare House for the Great Get Together on Saturday, it’s awful something like this could happen so soon after such a positive community meeting.”

 

Finsbury Park is a key transportation hub for the tube, buses and trains. Transport for London left the following sign outside the tube station:


The Muslim Association of Britain said in a statement:

“We call on politicians to treat this major incident no less than a terrorist attack. We call on the government to do more to tackle this hateful evil ideology which has spread over these past years and resulted in an increase of Islamophobic attacks and division of our society, as well as spreading of hate.”

The association’s president, Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this evil attack. I call on all Muslims to be extra vigilant following these hateful Islamophobic attacks, and to be cautious.”

David Curtis, 57, a practising Jew living in Finchley, North London heard about the attack on the news this morning and came after synagogue. He told BI’s Price: “It just feels it’s exactly what the terrorists have been trying to achieve… They seek to divide communities.”

He quoted Jo Cox, the MP that was murdered last year, who said: “there’s more that unites us than divides us.” He said, “we should hold onto that.”

A number of others have gathered to give support to the community and to promote peace:

This is a developing story …

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