Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Last Update : 01:17 PM IST

  World   Europe  21 Jun 2017  Finsbury Park Mosque: UK police question anti-Muslim attacker

Finsbury Park Mosque: UK police question anti-Muslim attacker

Published : Jun 21, 2017, 10:30 am IST
Updated : Jun 21, 2017, 10:30 am IST

The spate of attacks had 'bruised but not broken the heart of this great nation', Home Secretary Amber Rudd said.

Forensic officers move the van at Finsbury Park in north London, where a vehicle struck pedestrians in north London Monday. (Photo: AP)
 Forensic officers move the van at Finsbury Park in north London, where a vehicle struck pedestrians in north London Monday. (Photo: AP)

London: Police on Tuesday questioned a man suspected of deliberately mowing down Muslims in London, as the interior minister said Britain was "bruised but not broken" by a string of terror attacks.

Britain was coming to terms with the aftermath of its fourth bloody assault in three months following Monday's van attack on worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

The family of Darren Osborne, the man suspected of deliberately driving into the Muslim group, said he was "troubled", while regulars at his local pub said he was thrown out for threatening to kill Muslims.

Osborne, 47, a father of four from Cardiff in Wales, was arrested after the attack and police on Tuesday were granted permission to hold him for questioning until Saturday. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack but believe the suspect acted alone.

The spate of attacks had "bruised but not broken the heart of this great nation", Home Secretary Amber Rudd said. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been criticised for her response to a deadly fire in London last week, described Monday's incident as "sickening" and vowed to fight extremism in all its forms.

The attack has raised fears of retaliation against Muslims after three deadly strikes by Islamist extremists in London and the northern city of Manchester. One man who was already receiving first aid at the time died following Monday's attack.

Seven people remain in hospital and three were moved out of critical care on Tuesday. "I'm sorry that my brother has been that troubled, that it has taken him to this level of troubledness," said the suspect's sister Nicola Osborne. His mother Christine, 72, said she screamed when she saw her son in television footage.

"My son is no terrorist he's just a man with problems," The Sun newspaper quoted her as saying. In a statement on behalf of his family, his nephew Ellis Osborne, 26, said his uncle was "not a racist". "It's madness. It is obviously sheer madness," he said. 

Osborne reportedly went drinking at his local Hollybush pub on Saturday night, before being thrown out for a threatening rant about Muslims. A pubgoer, Jack Norman, told Wales Online that Osborne was "ranting and raving about terrorism".

Suspect saved by imam:
Around 300 Londoners gathered on Tuesday outside Finsbury Park Mosque, in the second vigil held since the attack. "If this mosque is attacked, if a synagogue is attacked, if any person is attacked, we are all under attack because of it," said opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is also the neighbourhood's MP. "Let us have a sense of solidarity in all communities," he told the crowd.

Following the attack, the van driver was pinned down by locals before being shielded from retaliatory violence by an imam and detained by police. Rudd said Muslims needed to feel safe in Britain and the government was working to tackle all forms of hate crime and extremism.

"Indicative figures suggest that over half of those who experience hate because of their religion are Muslim. Any hate crime is unacceptable but this stark figure is something we will not shy away from," she wrote in The Guardian newspaper. "We stand with the Muslim community you are not alone, we share your pain and we will not let you down."

'Does not remember anything':
But Rawah-ud-din Arif Khan, the imam of another mosque nearby, conceded: "There is fear among our community.  "These people want to divide us. We have to make sure that we don't fall into their trap," he told.

One victim of Monday's attack has no memory of what happened, according to a nephew who did not wish to be identified. "He is bleeding out of his ear, but in general his health was stable," he said after visiting his uncle Hamza Sharif in hospital. "He has a fracture in his skull but they still don't know why the bleeding from his ear is not stopping yet," the Somali-born man said. Sharif "does not remember anything" of the attack and kept asking "what was wrong".

The three previous attacks were all Islamist-inspired. A car and knife attack on March 22 in London killed four pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and a police officer guarding the nearby British parliament.

Two months later, on May 22, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a pop concert in Manchester, killing 22 people including children.

On June 3, eight people were killed in a van and knife attack on London Bridge and nearby Borough Market.

Tags: anti-muslim, van attacker, terror attacks, finsbury park mosque, isis
Location: United Kingdom, England, London