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London Mosque Attack: Imam 'Protected Suspect From Angry Worshippers'

19/06/2017 1:34 PM IST | Updated 19/06/2017 9:14 PM IST

An imam has been praised for stopping angry worshippers from attacking a suspect in a terror attack which saw a van plough into people outside a mosque in North London.

One person was killed and 10 people injured in the incident, which took place as people left the Muslim Welfare House on Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, after midnight prayers during Ramadan.

BBC
Mohammed Mahmoud and a number of worshippers intervened to prevent the suspect being harmed
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Police officers talk with local people at Finsbury Park following the incident
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A van at the scene in Finsbury Park, north London

Police confirmed the 47-year-old driver of the van was detained by members of public at the scene before officers arrived.

An imam has been praised after calming furious worshippers and ensured that the suspect was not harmed.

Mohammed Mahmoud explained his actions, saying: “By God’s grace we managed to surround [the suspect] and to protect him from any harm.”

“We stopped all forms of attack and abuse towards him that were coming every angle and by coincidence while the people who were tending to the injured were calling emergency services a police van drove past so we flagged them down.

“We told them the situation, said there’s as a man, he’s restrained, he mowed down people with his van and there’s a mob attempting to hurt him, if you don’t take him, God forbid he might be seriously hurt.

“So we pushed people away from him until he was safely put into the back of the van. That’s all that we did. It wasn’t me alone, there was a group of brothers who were calm and collected and managed to calm people down and to extinguish any flames of anger or mob rule that would have taken charge had this group of mature brother not stepped in.”

Video from the scene shows men aiming kicks and punches at the man as he is sprawled on the ground, though Mahmoud said he was “unscathed”.

Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, told Sky News: “People grabbed him outside and started hitting him.

“Our imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, went there and saved him. He saved his life basically.

“The imam of the mosque saved the life of the attacker.”

Those restraining the man were also praised for showing restraint.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Michael Gove praised the actions of those affected by the attack on a Finsbury Park mosque in the early hours of Monday, describing the mosque imam as ‘an example to us all’.

He said: “This was a disgusting and repellent attack aimed specifically to try and divide communities. Words fail me in trying to encapsulate my sense of disgust.

“The reaction of those caught up in it, in particular I understand the imam, who displayed exemplary restraint and compassion. It seems as though the community, in their response, set an example to all of us of compassion and resilience in times of trial.”

The Mayor of London also praised the imam’s actions.

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Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn at the scene in north London

Speaking in Finsbury Park on Monday, he said: “I want to pay tribute to the fantastic response form the police and emergence serves but also from the local community.

“Local worshippers apprehended the man in the van who mowed down the pedestrians. I’ve heard stories from the imam, who stopped local residents from understandably taking out their anger on this terrorist and I pay tribute to the Muslim Welfare House, the local council, Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry for the good work they do as a community hub.”

He added that this, as well as the attacks on Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and Manchester “are all an attack on our shared values of tolerance, freedom dn respect toad we will not allow these terrorist to succeed.”

He continued: “These have been a terrible few weeks for London, unprecedented in recent times. We will stay a strong city. We will ensure we aren’t cowed by terrorism. We will not be defeated today. We are united today and we will stay united.”

The 48-year-old suspect was later arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. 

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Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu thanked members of the public for restraining the suspect.

Various reports suggest the attacker shouted versions of wanting “to kill all Muslims” and that he “did my bit”.

One local resident told HuffPost UK: “One thing that is clear. This happened after night prayer that us Muslims pray during Ramadan. It was clearly an act that was planned and an act that was done with full intention.”

The investigation of the incident is being carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command and the Metropolitan Police said they were treating the incident as a 

HuffPost UK’s Paco Anselmi was in Finsbury Park, and witnessed increasingly angry scenes as it took almost five hours to confirm the police were investigating terror.

 The chairman of the mosque, Mohammed Kozbar, described the incident as a “cowardly attack” and said there were many injuries.

However, it later emerged that the man who died had already been receiving first aid from members of the public and it is not yet known if his death was caused by the attack, according to the Metropolitan Police.

 

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