UPDATE 6/19/17 @ 12:41 p.m. EDT: The driver of the van has been named as Darren Osborne. Read about the man accused of running over Muslims leaving a mosque here. Original story below.
A terrorist attack has occurred in North London on Seven Sisters Road outside the Finsbury Park Mosque where a man drove into Muslims leaving Ramadan prayers. The attack occurred right after 12:20 a.m. According to The Guardian, “A man died on the scene but was already receiving first aid from members of the public when the attack took place, police said. It is not yet known whether his death was a result of the attack.” 8 others are injured, 2 seriously.
Footage of the scene shows people motionless on the street as Muslims dressed in white clothing surround a white man, believed to be the driver. According to the Muslim Council of Britain, the incident actually occurred outside the Muslim Welfare House, not the mosque proper.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. A Video Shows a Man Being Arrested
A video shared on Twitter shows a man being arrested by police. Policer have described him as a 48-year-old white male. According to one witness, bystanders confronted the driver and held him until the police came.
In the video, the man is led away by the police and seems to grapple with them before they shove him off-camera.
The van the man used has been described in white.
2. The Incident Is Confirmed Terrorism
Early reports did not confirm the act to be deliberate. One witness told LBC, “It looked like he had lost control of the van or something.” However, the Muslim Council of Britain claims they believe the act was intentional.
This has been confirmed. “This is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter-Terrorism Command is investigating,” said Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for terrorism at the Met to CNN.
Two recent car rammings in New York and Amsterdam were not terrorism-related but due to the negligence of intoxicated drivers. However, Britain has been the subject of multiple terrorist attacks this spring, which has caused MI5 to raise the UK’s threat level to “severe.”
ISIS channels have been talking about the incident after learning that the driver was white.
3. The Victims Are Said to Be Muslims
According to witnesses, the Muslims had been taking part in Ramadan services. Some witnesses claim that the victims were Muslims taking part in Tarawih, extra prayers performed by Sunni Muslims at night during the the month of Ramadan.
The Muslim Council of Britain has said that their “prayers are with the victims.”
London Ambulance writes, “We have a number of ambulance crews and specialist teams on scene at the incident.”
4. The Mosque Has Former Terrorism Links
Al Qaeda operatives attended Finsbury Park Mosque in the early 2000s, reports The Independent.
Abu Hamza al-Masri was its former imam and was a preacher of militant Islamism. He was arrested in 2006 and currently is serving a life sentence at an American federal supermax prison in Colorado.
The BBC writes about the mosque, “Finsbury Park Mosque has long been synonymous with the worst fears about Islamist extremism in Britain. The mosque’s new leadership have been struggling to reclaim it for the local community.”
5. ISIS Has Instructed Muslims to Run Over Non-Muslims With Cars
In an ISIS magazine article from November 2016, ISIS suggested to jihadists how to carry out a successful attack as a lone wolf operative. In the article, ISIS said that a lone wolf should use a vehicle to plow into a crowd and to carry a secondary weapon.
Soon after, an ISIS-inspired student carried out vehicular attack on Ohio State University. The perpetrator, Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan, also carried a machete. ISIS later claimed the attacked and named Artan as one of their “soldiers.”
A similar attack claimed by ISIS was carried out on July 14, 2016 at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Bouhlel is responsible for murdering up to 84 people by ramming into them with a truck and shooting at them.
A similar ISIS attack took place at a Christmas market attack that killed 12 and injured 48 at Breitscheidplatz in Berlin-Charlottenburg, Germany in late 2016.
Most recently, the United Kingdom has been the brunt of foreign Islamic State attacks, with car rammings and suicide bombings rocking multiple locations this spring.