Everything We Know So Far About the Finsbury Park Attack
A van rammed into crowds of people leaving prayers.
Police officers in Finsbury Park, where one person has been arrested after a vehicle struck pedestrians. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA
In the early hours of Monday morning a van ploughed into crowds outside Finsbury Park's Muslim Welfare House, with one man pronounced dead at the scene, eight taken to hospital and two treated at the scene.
At a press conference, Deputy Met Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu – senior national co-ordinator for Counter-Terrorism Policing – said that the man who died had been receiving first aid at the scene before the attack, and that it "is too early to state if his death was as a result of this attack".
Basu also said that all victims "were from the Muslim community" and that "this was an attack on London and all Londoners, and we should all stand together against extremists whatever their cause".
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan condemned the incident as a "horrific terrorist attack", and the London Met Police have confirmed that counter-terrorism officers are investigating. Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee later this morning.
The attack comes towards the end of Ramadan, and happened around 300 metres from Finsbury Park mosque, as worshippers were heading home after prayers. Witnesses say the van was driving at around 50mph as it mounted the pavement, with one telling The Guardian, "It was deliberate, it was not an accident."
The person driving the van – a 47-year-old man – was detained by members of the public before police arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder. There are reports that Mohammed Mahmoud, imam at the mosque in the Muslim Welfare House, protected the man from angry onlookers until officers arrived.
One witness has told VICE's Henry Langston, who is on the scene, that while the driver was being arrested, he taunted worshippers, claiming he'd do it again.
The Muslim Welfare House – the apparent target of the attack – has appealed for calm in the community, saying in a statement:
"We have worked very hard over decades to build a peaceful and tolerant community here in Finsbury Park and we totally condemn any act of hate that tries to driver our wonderful community apart. We would appeal for calm at this time ... All of our efforts should be towards getting justice for the victims and ensuring our community stays the diverse, tolerant and welcome place we know it to be."
Following the attack, Diane Abbott MP – whose constituency of Hackney North and Stoke Newington borders Finsbury Park – tweeted, "Police must urgently review security for all mosques." Sadiq Khan has said more police will be deployed today to protect Muslims observing Ramadan.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, whose constituency includes Finsbury Park, has said he is "totally shocked at the incident", and that he will attend prayers in the area later today.
Pro-Islamic State social media accounts are already trying to capitalise on the attack, according to terrorism analysts, using the incident to incite Muslims. White supremacists have celebrated the incident, according to the American extremist monitoring group SITE.
Former EDL leader Tommy Robinson has been slammed after accusing Finsbury Park mosque of "creating radical jihadists" and "promoting hate and segregation". It seems he was referring to a point in the mosque's history that ended in the Met Police raiding and shutting it down in 2003. The mosque was reopened in 2005 and has since won a prestigious national award for its work in combatting religious extremism.
Religious leaders have condemned the attacks, with the archbishop of Canterbury tweeting, "We stand in solidarity with our Muslim friends and pray for the bereaved and injured." In a statement, Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said: "Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the appalling incident at Finsbury Park."
This is the third attack so far this year in London in which a van has been driven into crowds of people, following the Westminster terror attack in March and the London Bridge attack at the beginning of June.
The situation is ongoing and this story will be updated.