In what British officials say they are treating as an act of anti-Muslim terrorism, a 48-year-old man drove a van into a crowd of Muslim worshipers near a mosque in Finsbury Park in north London just as Ramadan prayers had finished. According to witnesses, the man then taunted the crowd, yelling, "I want to kill all Muslims" and "I did my bit, you deserve it." One man died from the incident and 10 were injured.
At around 12:20 a.m. Monday morning, a white van plowed into a group of people outside of the Muslim Welfare House, near the Finsbury Park Mosque. The van may have killed an elderly man who had previously collapsed at the bus stop from a medical condition and was being attended to by a group of fellow citizens. Early reports say ten others were injured, two seriously.
According to witnesses, the man got out of the van and initially tried to flee on foot, but was wrestled to the ground by members of the public. The Daily Mail describes the chaotic scene:
The unnamed man - who was clean-shaven with curly hair and wore a white t-shirt - suffered cuts to his face and hands and was filmed repeatedly shouting 'kill me' to the men who grabbed him.
After his arrest the terror suspect continued to goad the crowds that witnessed the attack by smiling, waving and even blowing kisses at them.
Witnesses said he 'deliberately' drove onto the pavement outside north London's Muslim Welfare House - yards from the Finsbury Park Mosque - and jumped out of the cab shouting 'I'm going to kill all Muslims - I did my bit'.
Toufik Kacimi, CEO of the Muslim Welfare House, said the attacker shouted "I did my bit, you deserve it," while video from the scene shows the terror suspect urging those who subdued him to "Kill me."
According to Kacimi, one imam prevented the crowd from harming the man. The Daily Mail:
The mosque's imam Mohammed Mahmoud was among those on top of him and was heard repeatedly yelling: 'Don't hit him - you do not touch him - hand him into the police' as the suspect shouted 'kill me' and urged irate witnesses to attack him.
Scotland Yard has said they are treating the white van attack as a terrorist incident and assistant commissioner Neil Basu today praised the 'restraint' of those who detained the suspect at the scene and handed him over to police.
Below is video of the terror suspect being wrestled to the ground (warning: graphic):
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of any major Western city, decried the "horrific terror attack."
"We don't yet know the full details, but this was clearly a deliberate attack on innocent Londoners, many of whom were finishing prayers during the holy month of Ramadan," he said.
British Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack, calling it "every bit as sickening" as the Islamist attacks that have rocked the city.
"Today we come together, as we have done before, to condemn this act and to state once again that hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed," said May. The attack on Muslims was "every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life" as the jihadist attacks, she said. Such acts of violence, she said, seek to "drive us apart" and "break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. We will not let this happen."
The apparent anti-Muslim attack comes just weeks after a radical Muslim terror attack at London Bridge, in which three jihadists drove a van into pedestrians and then went on a stabbing spree in the nearby area, killing eight before being shot dead by police.
"The attack is fourth terror attack in Britain since March —one in Manchester and three in London — claiming 36 lives so far," notes the Daily Mail.