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Finsbury Park attack: Imam 'stopped bystanders from attacking suspect'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 19/06/2017 Chloe Chaplain

Video provided by Nine News

The suspect in the terror attack near Finsbury Park mosque was protected by an imam after bystanders began beating him while on the ground, witnesses said.

The suspected terrorist was wrestled to the ground by passers-by after he had careered 'smiling' through a crowd of pedestrians, including a man in a wheelchair.

After the attack, the suspect was said to have got out of the van before being pinned down by members of the public.

Some launched kicks at the suspect's head but this action was said to have been stopped by an imam named Mohammed Mahmoud.

finsburyparkvan1906d.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited finsburyparkvan1906d.jpg Eyewitness Hussain Ali, 28, said that, while being restrained, the man was protected by the people he is thought to have been targeting.

He said: "The leader of the mosque said 'You do not touch him'. He was sitting and holding him like that, people kept holding him.

"All the police and helicopters came after around eight minutes."

Mr Ali described the horrifying scene unfolding outside the Islamic centre in north London early on Monday morning.

finsburypark1906a.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited finsburypark1906a.jpg "All I heard was a banging, then I turned and saw all the shouting and running.

"I saw people taking a man from underneath the van, he was black, bleeding, he was not dead, he was alive.

"There was a man in a wheelchair, a man underneath the van, it was hell.

f1.jpg © Provided by Independent Print Limited f1.jpg "People who were inside saw the attacker was smiling, he was waving, he was happy.

"It was panic, people were shouting, screaming, some saying it was an accident.

image © Provided by Independent Print Limited image "It was panic, it was horror."

Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, said the local community was "horrified" by the incident and appealed for calm.

He also thanked Imam Mohammed Mahmoud "whose bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life".

"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 drive our wonderful community apart," Mr Kacimi said.

"We would appeal for calm at this time.

"It is unhelpful for there to be speculation about the incident. 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."

Mr Kacimi said the Muslim Welfare House had met with police, the council and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is MP for Islington North, in the wake of the incident.

He added: "I would like to particularly thank our Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, whose bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life."

© Provided by Independent Print Limited

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