A middle-aged man
from Wales is believed to behind a terrorist attack which left one dead and injured elven outside a London mosque early Monday morning. Editor’s note: A reader informs us that Osborne is not Welsh. The Guardian states that he was born in Singapore, and that his mother, sister, and nephew currently live in Weston Super Mare, England. Osborne has been living in Cardiff, Wales for the last 10 years, according to our reader. We apologize for the error.
Darren Osborne, 47, reportedly plowed into a group of worshipers at the Finsbury Park mosque, steering the vehicle onto a sidewalk before trying to run away.
Bystanders allege he yelled to a gathering crowd, “I want to kill all Muslims – I did my bit,” before trying to escape the scene.
Osborne was quickly restrained by bystanders, some of whom began to beat the man. The appearance of local imam Mohammed Mahmoud, assisted by several members of his congregation, helped calm the crowd. Mahmoud, with help, pinned down the driver and waited for police to arrive.
He is credited with possibly saving Osborne from a severe beating, or possibly worse.
“By God’s grace we managed to surround him and protect him from any harm,” said Mahmoud in a Monday press conference. “We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him that were coming from every angle.”
Finsbury Park Imam Mohammed Mahmoud gives a statement following a purported terror attack. Video courtesy of AFP.
London’s Metropolitan Police force – often referred to simply as the Met – intervened after Mahmoud flagged down a passing police van.
“We told them the situation and said there’s a mob attempting to hurt him. If you don’t take him, God forbid, he might be seriously hurt,” Mahmoud recounted, describing how Osborne came to be detained.
Officers arrested Osborne, who is being held on terror-related charges.
“This is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter-Terrorism Command is investigating,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing.
British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the scene of the attack around noon Monday, saying “hatred and evil” would never succeed.
She damned the attack, suspected to be motivated by Islamophobia, as “every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life” as a succession of attacks suspected to be motivated by religious extremism.
“We will stop at nothing to defeat it,” May said, referring to the fringe forces of white British nationalism as well as Islamist extremism.
A fast-acting investigation revealed Osborne had rented the van from a car company in Wales. Law enforcement also carried out a raid at a residential address near Cardiff, the Welsh capital.
Neighbors and acquaintances of Osborne, interviewed near the address, described the man as “aggressive” and “strange.”
In the days leading up to the attack, Osborne purportedly insulted a 10-year Muslim boy living in the same neighborhood, calling him an “inbred.” He was also thrown out of a local pub for getting drunk and embarking on a tirade, “cursing Muslims and saying he would do some damage.”