Monday June 19, 2017

Suspected London mosque attacker laughed and smiled as police arrested him, witness says

Darren Osborne, 47, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and the "commission, preparation or instigation" of terrorism.

Darren Osborne, 47, has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and the "commission, preparation or instigation" of terrorism. (Facebook)

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When Ahmed Abubakar arrived at London's Finsbury Park mosque after Ramadan prayers early Monday morning, he found his uncle bleeding from the head while a man pinned to the ground nearby was screaming that he would "kill all Muslims." 

"​I saw my uncle, who I was just with him about five minutes before that, and he was already bleeding. I went to him," Abubakar told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"He was really shocked and he didn't know anything. I said to him, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' He said, 'Yes, I'm OK, I'm OK. What happened?'"

Just minutes before, a van had plowed into a group of pedestrians outside the mosque, where a large crowd of worshippers had just finished Ramadan prayers.

When the driver, whom witnesses described as a middle-aged white man, emerged from the van, onlookers tackled him to the ground and held him there until police arrived.

Police have since identified the accused as 47-year-old Darren Osborne, and charged him with attempted murder and terrorism.

Abubakar cradled his wounded uncle until his brother showed up at the scene. He then left his uncle in his brother's care, then went to see what else he could do to help. 

One man was trapped underneath the van and Abubakar and several others lifted it up to rescue him. 

He said the driver, meanwhile, was flailing, kicking and screaming: "I will kill you, all of you Muslims!"

Britain Mosque Attack

Forensic officers move the van used to strike pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

"Some angry young boys came. They tried like to kick or something, and we were trying to protect him because there were kicks coming from every corner. We were saying, 'Just leave him. Leave him now. He is on the floor. The police are on the way. They will deal with it,'" Abubakar said.

"And then, when the police came, suddenly he changed into a happy man."

Abubakar said the driver laughed and smiled as officers cuffed him and put him into the back of a police van.

Cellphone video captures moments after London attacker caught0:35

It took 20 minutes for the police to show up, Abubakar said, and the ambulance came even later than that.

In the meantime, he said there were hundreds of people gathered in the area, doing what they could to attend to the injured.

At least eight people were hurt in the attack, and one man died at the scene, though it's not yet clear whether his death was the result of the crash. 

Abubakar's uncle suffered a cracked skull, but he is expected to live. Abubakar said he saw another man with a broken back, unable to move. 

Britain Mosque Attack

People take part in a vigil at Finsbury Park in north London. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

The events have had a detrimental effect on Finsbury Park, a neighbourhood Abubakar said has "all the people from different colours living next to each other in [a] peaceful way."

"And now, people were a bit scared and saying, 'We don't think we can come to the mosque,'" he said. "You know, anything could happen. We don't feel that we are safe."

The mosque attack comes two weeks after seven people were killed in a van and knife attack near London Bridge. Before that, dozens were killed in a concert bombing in Manchester

London is also reeling in the aftermath of a highrise apartment fire last week that left at least 79 people dead or missing. 

"The world is just becoming crazy nowaways," Abubakar said. "I hope the world will just come together because terrorism, it hasn't got any religion or anything. We just need to be together and then we can be strong and go forward."