Following a midnight incident (a horrifically violent one) near a London mosque, investigators are hard at work only two weeks following the London Bridge terror attacks, which saw a vehicle kill multiple pedestrians before three suspects began stabbing people at a nearby restaurant. With the early Monday incident, details are coming together with some rumors solidifying as fact. There are a number of updates, including how authorities are considering the new attack — in which a van drove into a crowd of worshipers (killing at least one person and injuring ten others) near Finsbury Park Mosque — to be an act of terror.
Shortly after the attack occurred, bystanders apprehended one suspect, a 48-year-old man who reportedly shouted, “I’m going to kill all Muslims.” He was arrested by police, although his name has not been released. Witnesses also say that two other people (who fled) were inside the van when the collision occurred, although police have made no other arrests so far.
During Ramadan, crowds regularly gather very late at night while departing taraweeh prayers after breaking their daily fast. And given the outburst from the suspect, authorities swiftly began to consider this as an attack upon a religion, especially since the collision occurred in an area where at least four mosques are situated. For these reasons, London Mayor Sadiq Khan (the city’s first Muslim mayor who expressed disgust and fury at the London Bridge terrorists for what he deemed an appropriation of his religion) has declared the mosque-targeting incident as a “horrific terrorist attack.”
Local police agree and told CNN, “This was a direct attack on Muslims.” Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby went even further on behalf of the religious community and deemed this as “an attack on us all.” During Mayor Khan’s morning remarks to the press, he stated, “Terrorism is terrorism whether it’s Islamist inspired, or inspired by others.”
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 19, 2017
In addition, British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a lengthy speech, in which she announced a new plan (that was hatched following the London Bridge attacks) to combat extremism, including its online dissemination:
As I said here two weeks ago, there has 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.
And it is why we will establish a new Commission for Countering Extremism as a statutory body to help fight hatred and extremism in the same way as we have fought racism – because this extremism is every bit as insidious and destructive to our values and our way of life and we will stop at nothing to defeat it.
— CNN (@CNN) June 19, 2017
In her speech, May also warned Londoners that the goals of terrorists include driving groups apart from each other, and she insists that their efforts must not succeed. Government minister Sajid Javid also spoke out to condemn this “hate crime attack,” and he wished to offer “maximum reassurance” that the Muslim community will have all the public support that it needs.
UPDATE #1 – 1:20pm EST: The Guardian reports that the arrested suspect has been charged with “commission, preparation, or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder.” Authorities currently believe that he acted alone.