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Father-of-four named as suspect in London mosque terror attack

9News.com.au logo 9News.com.au 19/06/2017


The man suspected of ploughing a van into Muslims leaving late-night prayers at a London mosque is being described by people who knew him as “aggressive”.

The 47-year-old had been arrested for attempted murder after the alleged attack in Finsbury Park early Monday.

He is being identified by UK media as father-of-four Darren Osborne from Somerset.

Friends of Mr Osborne told The Telegraph he grew up in North Somerset, but was living in Cardiff with his family.

Neighbours who lived near Mr Osborne in Cardiff told The Guardian he was “aggressive” and “strange”.

It’s understood police searched his home yesterday.

His Muslim next door neighbour Khadijh Sherazi claims Mr Osborne abused her son over the weekend, calling him an “inbred”, but said the family had never had any problems with him prior to the incident.

There is no immediate evidence available to suggest Mr Osborne was a member of any far-right organisations and British security minister, Ben Wallace, said he was not known to police.

“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.

Mr Osborne was arrested at the scene of the van attack yesterday after he was apprehended and held down by civilians.

He was arrested on terror grounds, as well as a string of other offences.

"He has further been arrested for the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder," Scotland Yard police headquarters said in a statement.

One man was pronounced dead at the scene and eight people were taken to hospital.

The man who died was already receiving first aid at the time of the attack, the latest in a spate of terrorist strikes in Britain.

"Inquiries are continuing to establish whether there is any link between his death and the attack," police said.

Officers close by quickly attended the scene, the attack was declared as a terrorist incident within eight minutes and armed officers were on the scene within 10 minutes, police said.

Police believe Mr Osborne was working alone.

"At this stage in the investigation, it is believed that the suspect acted alone but we are of course investigating all the circumstances leading up to the attack," the statement said.

A witness said Mr Osborne screamed "I'm going to kill all Muslims" before he was tackled to the floor after the attack.

Abdulrahman Saleh Alamoudi said he was among a group of people helping an elderly worshipper who had fallen down, perhaps because of the heat, when the van swerved towards them.

He told BuzzFeed News: "This big van just came and went all over us.

"I think at least eight or 10 people got injured. Luckily I managed to escape. And then the guy came out of his van and I got him.

"He was screaming, he was saying, 'I'm going to kill all Muslims, I'm going to kill all Muslims'. He was throwing punches.

"Then we managed to get him on the floor. Then he was saying, 'Kill me, kill me'. I said, 'We are not going to kill you. Why did you do that?' He wouldn't say anything."

Earlier, Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack was "every bit as sickening" as other terror plots that have struck the capital in recent months.

Speaking outside her Downing Street residence, Mrs May said it was "a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms and our determination to tackle them must be the same, whoever is responsible".

The attack "targeted the ordinary and the innocent... this time British Muslims as they left the mosque," she said, adding that police would provide any additional protection needed for mosques.

"This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship and like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal: it seeks to drive us apart," she said.

"There has been far too much tolerance of extremism... including Islamophobia," she said, announcing the creation of a new commission to fight extremism in the same way as racism.

The mosque at the centre of the attack was once a notorious hub for radical Islamists but has entirely changed under new management.

Its former imam Abu Hamza was jailed for life in New York on terrorism charges in 2015.

He preached there from 1997 to 2003 before being jailed for inciting violence. He was later extradited to the US.

In 2015, the mosque was one of around 20 that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following Islamist-inspired attacks in Paris.

Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.

The chairman of the mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, labelled today’s incident a “cowardly attack”.

Earlier this week Mr Kozbar tweeted about how the members of the mosque had raised £3000 (AU$5024) for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.

The attack marks the third time this year that a vehicle has been used to ram through pedestrians in London.

In March five people died after a man drove into a crowd on Westminster Bridge in central London and stabbed a police officer.

Earlier this month three male assailants drove a van through a crowd on London Bridge before going on a stabbing rampage at Borough Markets in an attack that killed seven people.

A fourth attack at Manchester Arena in May killed 23 adults and children when a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb was let off in the venue’s lobby. 


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