What we know: Pedestrians struck in terror attack near London mosque
Emma Lacey-Bordeaux and Joe Sterling, CNN
(CNN) — London is once again waking up to another terror attack.
Here’s what we know so far about an incident in which a van drove into pedestrians near Finsbury Park Mosque, north London, in the early hours of Monday morning, injuring several people.
“This is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter-Terrorism Command is investigating,” said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for counter-terrorism policing.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May also called the incident a terror attack when she addressed reporters outside Downing Street Monday. Earlier, she chaired an emergency meeting of Cabinet members, police and security personnel, the Downing Street press office tells CNN.
“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 seeks to drive us apart and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship which we share in this country,” she said.
— Just after midnight Monday, a van ran into a group of people in London’s Finsbury Park neighborhood.
— The driver of the van, a 48-year-old man, was held by people at the scene until police arrived. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, according to police.
— Police have not named the man arrested, but the van bears the logo and phone number for Pontyclun Van Hire in south Wales.
— Imam Mohammed Mahmoud of the Muslim Welfare House stopped an angry crowd from turning on the van driver, telling the furious mob: “Do not touch him.”
— The incident unfolded as evening Ramadan prayers ended.
— The Metropolitan police’s Counter Terrorism Command forces are investigating the incident.
— Police said they believe the attacker acted alone, despite earlier reports from witnesses, who said they saw two other people flee the scene.
— UK Security Minister Ben Wallace, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, said, “This individual, so far as we know at the moment, was not known to us.”
— Extra officers have been deployed to “reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan,” according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
— The Prime Minister said police decided to treat the incident as a terror attack within eight minutes of receiving the first emergency call.
— Residents in Finsbury Park had criticized authorities for not declaring the incident as terrorism soon enough, and police only publicly announced they were treating it as terror more than eight hours after the event.
— All of the victims were from the Muslim community, police said.
— One man was found dead at the scene, according to police, but it’s not clear if he was killed during the attack. Police said he was already receiving first aid when the attack unfolded.
— Two people were treated at the scene, May said, and eight others have been taken to three hospitals. Two of them are seriously injured.
— Islington’s Seven Sisters Road, where the attack took place, is home to at least four mosques, and would have likely been filled with worshipers leaving late-night taraweeh prayers.
— The Islington borough of north London, of which Finsbury Park is a part, is home to a large Muslim community. Around 10% of the borough’s population is Muslim.
— Opened in 1994, Finsbury Park Mosque is an unassuming five-story red brick building in residential north London, close to Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium. The mosque, which today operates largely as a community center, rose to international notoriety in the early 2000s, due to its links with Egyptian-born radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.
— Abu Hamza, who was the mosque’s imam from 1997 to 2003, was later extradited to the United States, where he was convicted of supporting al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists, and sentenced to life in prison in 2015.
— Since then, the mosque has worked to turn its reputation around and now operates mostly as a community center.
— Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu praised citizens who helped in the immediate aftermath of the attack: “Their restraint in the circumstances is commendable.”
–The Finsbury Park Mosque “condemns in the strongest terms” a “heinous terrorist attack” early Monday, according to a statement released by the mosque. The mosque called it a “callous terrorist attack.”
— Mohammed Kozbar, trustee and mosque general secretary, said that the attack was aimed at “killing Muslims returning home after Ramadan prayers.”
— UK Communities Secretary Sajid Javid told BBC that “clearly, from what we’ve seen and what we know already, this is a hate crime attack.”
— London Mayor Sadiq Khan paid tribute to “the fantastic response from the police and emergency services ”
— Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said, “We take all forms of hate crime and violent extremism incredibly seriously.”
— UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said, “We must all continue to stand together, resolute, against all those who try to divide us and spread hate and fear.”
— Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said he is “shocked by this horrific and cruel attack” and appealed “for people and the media to remain calm and respectful of those affected.”
— Muslim Council of Britain said in a statment that “ordinary British citizens were set upon while they were going about their lives, completing their night worship. My prayers are with the victims and their families.”
— The head of Tell MAMA, an anti-Islamophobia group, says anti-Muslim hate crime in the United Kingdom has increased noticeably after the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London.
— British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who hosted an Iftar at his home last night for the local Muslim community, said “we must never allow hatred to breed hatred.”
— The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said “the appalling attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park is an attack on us all and on the culture and values of our country.”