Muslim Neighbour Describes London Mosque Van Driver Suspect as ‘Everyday Guy’

UPDATE Monday 22h30: A Muslim neighbour of the driver of the van who ploughed into the group of worshippers near the London mosque during the early hours of Monday (19 June) described him as an “everyday guy.” Watch Video below.

Khadijah and her Pakistani husband live right next door to the driver’s house in Cardiff, their children playing with each other.

“Basically, just a shock. he seems like an everyday guy. I saw him walking the dogs, walking the kids to school and back. Just everyday things like everyone else. Just, you know, he was never unpleasant to me or anything and he will be here since April.

“And I just didn’t think it is possible or anything that was used with that strong and that even hated Muslims, with us being Muslims as well next door. So, I think it’s just a shock that he’s done what he’s done,” Khadijah said.

The vehicle swerved into a group of mainly North and West African people shortly after midnight as they left prayers at the Muslim Welfare House and the nearby Finsbury Park Mosque in north London, one of the biggest in Britain.

The driver, a 47-year-old white man, was grabbed at the scene by locals and pinned down until police arrived.

The man was not named by police but local media reported he was a father of four who lived in Wales. He was held on suspicion of attempted murder which was later extended to preparing or instigating terrorism, including murder and attempted murder.

After being seized, he said he had wanted to kill “many Muslim people”, one witness told journalists.

A man, who had earlier suffered a heart attack, died at the scene but it was not clear if his death was connected to the van attack.

Brave members of the public were commended by the police for helping to detain the suspect. The van drove into people leaving a London mosque late last night, injuring at least 10 people in what witnesses said was a deliberate attack on Muslims.

Speaking to media this morning Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism at Scotland Yard, said:

“The attack unfolded whilst a man was receiving first aid from the public at the scene, sadly, he has died. Any causative link between his death and the attack will form part of our investigation. It is too early to state if his death was as a result of the attack.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the incident at Seven Sisters Road and their family, friends and their communities.

“No matter what the motivation proves to be, and we are keeping an open mind, this is being treated as a terrorist attack and the Counter Terrorism Command is investigating.

“This was an attack on London and all Londoners and we should all stand together against extremists whatever their cause.

“From 00:21hrs this morning police received a number calls to Seven Sisters Road following a van having collided with pedestrians.

“Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded instantly. Additional officers arrived within 10 minutes.

“One man was pronounced dead at the scene. Eight others are in hospital and two more were treated at the scene.

“All the victims were from the Muslim community.

“I would like to praise police officers who immediately gave life saving treatment at the scene, but also members of the public who assisted before and after the incident.

“Also at the scene, detained by members of the public, was the man suspected of being the driver.

“He was arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder.

“I would like to thank those people who helped police in detaining the man and worked with officers to calmly and quickly get him into our custody.

“Their restraint in the circumstances was commendable.

Police officers put a man in the back of a police van after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighbourhood of North London, Britain June 19, 2017, in this still image from video obtained from social media. Facebook via REUTERS.

“This investigation is ongoing, and we are working fast to know the full details of how and why it took place.

“At this early stage of the investigation, no other suspects have been identified or reported to police, and there were no reports of any people having suffered any knife injuries.

“The van used was examined by specialist officers but nothing that would cause a risk to the public was found in it.

“Extra policing resources have been deployed across London in order to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan.”

“I would urge everyone to remain calm and vigilant.

“I would ask the public with any information about this incident, or anything that causes them concern or suspicion, to call the police on 0800 789 321.

“Now is a time once again for London to stand together to face those who seek to divide us.”

An eye witness said the man drove the white van at pedestrians outside Finsbury Park mosque, and then shouted “Kill me, kill me, I want to kill all Muslims”.

Alphabet Inc’s Google will implement more measures to identify and remove terrorist or violent extremist content on its video sharing platform YouTube, the company said in a blog post on Sunday.

One South African expat living in the UK said the counter-terrorist attack came after the Muslims were exiting the mosque after the prayers held after Iftar (the breaking of the fast in Ramadan month). “Londoners, and I think all of us in the UK, are tired and fed up of this all,” she said.