London mosque attack suspect arrested on 'terror grounds': police
The man suspected of ploughing a van into Muslims taking a break from late-night prayers in London has now been arrested on terror grounds, police said Monday.
The 47-year-old man was arrested for attempted murder after the incident in Finsbury Park left one man dead and several others injured.
"He has further been arrested for the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder," Scotland Yard police headquarters said in a statement.
The developments came just hours after Theresa May condemned the “sickening” attack and vowed to fight terrorism and extremism "whoever is responsible".
Speaking outside her Downing Street residence, May said the attack was "a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms and our determination to tackle them must be the same, whoever is responsible".
"It was an attack that targeted the ordinary and the innocent," the prime minister said.
A police statement confirmed all the victims of the attack were identified as Muslims who were visiting the mosque for Taraweeh prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan.
In an exclusive interview with The New Arab, the Imam of the local Muslim Welfare House mosque described how the event unfolded and explained why he protected the suspect from angry locals who witnessed the attack.
Sheikh Mohammed Mahmoud, a Briton of Egyptian descent said he ordered locals to not harm the suspect despite the attack, suggesting it was better the law “takes its course”.
“We got him up, formed a semi-circle around him and pushed away people who were trying to inflict serious damage. Some even came with sticks but we pushed them away and eventually got him into the van”.
The account falls in line with dozens of videos that emerged online almost instantly after the arrest, and social media users, as well as mainstream media outlets, began praising the heroic imam for protecting a man who attacked Muslims going home from later night prayers.
But although the Imam’s actions were commended and applauded as somewhat unexpected, he insited they merely followed the teachings of Islam, which he said “rejects mob mentality.”
“We are not judge, jury or executioner and we have no authority to exercise any laws. So if we had done anything to him, it would’ve been both illegal by British law and prohibited Islamically,” he added.