One person is dead and eight more are injured after a 47-year-old Wales 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.” Witness accounts say he shouted that he wanted to “kill all Muslims” as he was being detained. He has since been charged by police with attempted murder.
According to The Guardian, Osborne is originally from Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset but is living in Cardiff, about three hours west of Finsbury Park. One man claiming to be a longtime friend told the Daily Mirror that Osborne is a father-of-four, and another said that he studied at 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, who is described by some neighbors as being a man who often kept to himself, was taken to the hospital “as a precaution,” and was set to undergo a mental health assessment, police said. They added that he would be “taken into custody once discharged.”
A motive in the car ramming hasn’t yet been disclosed by authorities, but they are investigating it as a terror-related incident.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said that Osborne wasn’t known to authorities prior to the attack.
“What I can say on this case is this individual, so far as we know at the moment, was not known to us, but we are aware of a rise in the far right,” he said to The Guardian.
Here’s what you need to know about Osborne and the attack:
1. The Worshipers Were Reportedly Assisting a Man That Fainted When the Van Osborne Was Driving Crashed Into Them
Witnesses on scene say that Osborne 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 fainted. Some people on the sidewalk were coming from Tarawih, prayers that are performed for Ramadan, mosque officials said.
The Muslim Council of Britain said that the incident took place outside of Muslim Welfare House — not the mosque.
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, police said. The one man who died at the scene had fainted prior to the van running 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.”
A graphic 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, secretary general of the MCB, tweeted that that he was “outraged” to hear of the incident.
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.”
2. Witnesses Say Osborne Shouted ‘I Want to Kill All Muslims’ as He Was Subdued & He Allegedly Harassed a Muslim Neighbor Days Before
Social media reports say that after the van hit the group of worshipers, bystanders ran to subdue Osborne until police arrived on scene. According to Telegraph, witnesses wrestled him to the ground and pinned him down.
In an interview with CNN, witness Saeed Hashi said he was one of the people who held Osborne down as police arrived about “10 minutes later.” He said he saw what happened and approached the driver’s seat of the van when it came to a stop.
Hashi tried to force Osborne out of the vehicle, and said he became extremely combative. He added that Osborne punched him in the head and bit on the thumb as two others assisted him in pinning him down.
Hashi said police drove past the incident while Osborne was being held on the ground, but were unaware what was occurring. He said that as they detained him, Osborne was “really shouting and aggressive” and started spitting on them.
Another eyewitness told BuzzFeed News that Osborne shouted “I want to kill all Muslims” as he was being corralled.
Reports say that an imam from the mosque protected Osborne 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.”
While many neighbors described Osborne as a quiet man, one altercation surfaced this past weekend. Khadijh Sherazi, a Muslim, told the Guardian that her 12-year-old son was racially harassed by Osborne over the weekend.
“I was on my bike and he just came up to me and said ‘in-bred,'” the son said to the news outlet.
The mother said that they “didn’t think nothing of it.”
“He seemed a normal bloke, a normal family, normal kids, happy go lucky,” she said to The Guardian. “I would see him out walking with his two spaniels. He would also shout quite a lot but the kids seemed happy. I wouldn’t have said he was someone with mental problems.”
In addition to the alleged racial harassment, Sherazi said that Osborne had a large family that visited frequently.
According to the Daily Mail, Osborne was thrown out of his local pub the night before the attack. One of the regulars at the bar told the news outlet that Osborne “got chucked out as he was so drunk. He was cursing Muslims and saying he would do some damage.”
3. Osborne Was Described by 1 Neighbor as a Quiet Man
The home that was believed to be Osbornes’, 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 for many hours. She added that she was shocked to hear Osborne was the suspect in the incident, saying he 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.”
Osborne was reportedly born in Singapore and his mother, sister and nephew live in Weston-super-Mare. According to neighbors, Osborne lived with his partner Sarah Andrews — a chef at a pub — for some time, but they separated recently.
Neighbor Rebecca Carpenter described Osborne as a “shouty person” to The Guardian.
“He always seemed an aggressive and strange person,” Carpenter said the The Guardian. “He drove around in an old car that was always damaged.”
Labour Party MP Jo Stevens called on people with more information about Osborne to come forward to authorities. He was a resident in her constituency, and she called it concerning that he lived there.
I am appealing to anyone who may have relevant information about the attack to let the police know immediately.
I am also appealing to everyone who uses social media, to please be aware that prejudicial tweets about the alleged attacker may constitute contempt of court, and could even lead to any prosecution or trial having to be abandoned.
4. Videos of Osborne Being Arrested Were Posted to Social Media
Osborne was arrested by officers once they arrived, and those who gathered nearby recorded the chaotic arrest.
The man believed to be Osborne was filmed standing outside of the van as a large crowd screamed at him and police tried to take control of the situation.
Another video posted to Twitter showed him locked inside the back of a police van as the group of angry bystanders shout at the man. Witnesses on scene say he was blowing kisses and laughing at those standing outside of the van.
Police haven’t yet declared a motive in the incident, 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.
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.”
May met with Finsbury Park community leaders after the attack and said working to reform the government in regard to extremism was her top priority.
5. The Finsbury Mosque Has Past Ties to Terrorist Groups, but Has Worked to Remake Itself
While a motive in the incident hasn’t yet been disclosed, Osborne is believed to have rented out the van in Pontyclun. That’s in the vicinity of several far-right groups, including the South Wales National Front. But the group has denied any connection to the attack to The Guardian.
“The man in question is not known to any of us here in South Wales National Front, and to our knowledge is not and never has been a member,” group leader Adam Lloyd said to the news outlet. “Although we will never condone or accept this kind of violent attacks here in SWNF, anyone with a right mind can see this is not a terrorist attack but a revenge attack.”
The Finsbury Mosque has caused controversy in the past 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 2000s.
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 tackling hate crimes.
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.