COPYCAT REVENGE? London witnesses third terrorist incident in three months involving a vehicle
LONDON: One man died and 10 others were injured when a man drove a van into worshippers leaving a London mosque after Ramzan prayers on Monday, the third terror incident in Britain in three months involving a vehicle, after the attacks on Westminster and London bridges.
A man, who was already being given first aid at the scene before the van rammed the pedestrians, has died but police said it was unclear whether his death was directly linked. At least two of the injured are in a very serious condition.
After chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency committee, called Cobra, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “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 is a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms, and our determination to tackle them must be the same whoever is responsible.” May also announced the setting up of a “Commission for Countering Extremism” with statutory status to help fight hatred and extremism in the same way as racism.
She said that there had “been far too much tolerance of extremism in our country over many years – and that means extremism of any kind, including Islamophobia. That is why this government will act to stamp out extremist and hateful ideology – both across society and on the internet, so it is denied a safe space to grow.”
Neil Basu, Scotland Yard’s senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, confirmed it was being treated as a terror incident: “No matter what the motivation proves to be, and we are keeping an open mind, this is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating.” He added, “The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene, sadly, he has died. 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…all the victims were from the Muslim community.”
All the victims were from the Muslim community, Basu said.
Security was stepped up outside mosques in London and elsewhere. Local MP Jeremy Corbyn expressed “total shock” at the incident.
Witness Abdulrahman Saleh Alamoudi told Buzzfeed News: “This big van just came and went all over us…he (the driver) was screaming…’i’m going to kill all Muslims’.”
Sky News reported that the mosque’s imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, prevented the crowd from beating the attacker, aged 48, until police arrived and arrested him on suspicion of attempted murder.
The Finsbury Park mosque, one of the largest in the UK, was in the headlines in the 1990s because of its links to radical cleric Abu Hamza. It was shut down and reorganized, and has not been associated with radical views for more than a decade.