A man in a white van plowed into a group of pedestrians on Seven Sisters Road in London yesterday, leaving one man dead and 10 wounded. The victims have not been identified, but it is known the casualties are members of the city's Muslim community and the killer is a 47-year-old white Welshman named Darren Osborne.
The attack occurred near Finsbury Park Mosque and The Muslim Welfare House. Though officially the attack happened at The Muslim Welfare House, the incident has often been referred to as the 'Finsbury Park Mosque' attack.
This happened within a month of two terrorist attacks at the hands of Muslim extremists, one in May after an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena and another earlier this month on London Bridge. Including the Westminster Bridge attack in March, the Finsbury Park Mosque attack marks the fourth terrorist attack to afflict the U.K. in three months.
According to witnesses, Osborne drove into a group of people leaving a mosque and shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims.” Given these comments and the recent string of terrorist attacks in the name of Islam, it is difficult not to see this attack as retribution.
Firebrand Islam critic Tommy Robinson, former leader of the right-wing street protest group, English Defense League, took to Twitter and condemned the killing of innocent people, but also grilled the British government for turning a blind eye to the growth of radical Islam and creating conditions under which a revenge attack would be inevitable:
Unaware that the attack had officially happened across the street and not outside the Finsbury Park Mosque itself, Robinson also tweeted that the mosque has a history of creating jihadists and terrorists, as well as promoting hate and segregation:
Twitter users quickly condemned Robinson's comments, accusing him of inciting hatred and condoning the killing of innocents:
Robinson tweeted back that he doesn't justify Osborne's actions and added that the U.K. government has not done enough to counter mosques that promote radicalization:
At one time, the Finsbury Park Mosque was one of these “centres of hate.” For the past decade, it has worked to improve its image since the ousting of “hook-handed” imam, Abu Hamza, who served from 1997 to 2004. Under his tutelage, the Finsbury Park Mosque was a hotbed for radical Islamists.
Among those with ties to the mosque were “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, who attempted to blow up a plane with a bomb concealed in his shoe, and Zacarias Moussaoui, who was imprisoned in 2006 after pleading guilty to six counts of conspiracy related to the 9/11 terror attacks.
In 2004, Hamza was arrested for inciting racial hatred and eventually extradited to the United States, where he stood trial for kidnapping tourists in Yemen in 1998, leading to the deaths of four hostages during the operation to rescue the hostages. He was found guilty on 11 charges of terrorism and kidnapping and received two life sentences without the possibility of parole.
The Finsbury Park Mosque went through a brief period of inactivity after Hamza's arrest but reopened its doors in 2005 with new management. According to The Telegraph, the mosque's period since reopening has widely been viewed as “a success story.”
British officials have been quick to denounce the Finsbury Park attack. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn expressed shock at Osborne's “horrific and cruel” actions and Prime Minister Theresa May has decried the Finsbury Park attack as “every bit as sickening” as those in recent months.