LONDON: The family of Darren Osborne, the man arrested in connection to the terror attack in Finsbury Park, claim “he is not a racist”.
The father-of-four was apprehended in the moments after a van ploughed into worshippers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque killing one man and injuring at least 10 after Muslims had attended evening prayers.
While being protected an imam of the mosque, onlookers said the 47-year-old shouted “I’m going to kill Muslims” and “this is for London Bridge”.
Osborne’s home in Cardiff has been raided by police after he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and over alleged terror offences. Osborne’s nephew, Ellis, said his uncle was “troubled for a long time”.
He said on behalf of the family: “We are massively shocked; it’s unbelievable, it still hasn’t really sunk in. “We are devastated for the families, our hearts go out to the people who have been injured.”
Ellis Osborne added that his uncle was “not a racist” declaring that he had never expressed any racist views and adding: “Its madness. It is obviously sheer madness.”
Muslim community raises fears of further attacks
Members of the Finsbury Park Muslim community have expressed fears of further attacks after a van was driven into worshippers leaving midnight Ramadan prayers.
The attack took place around 12.20am, with eyewitnesses reporting that the driver drove the white van towards one group of people and then swerved in order to hit another group on the other side of the road.
The timing of the attack left members of the mosque in no doubt that they were deliberately targeted or that the time had been chosen because the attacker knew there would be a large number of Muslims in the area.
As crowds gathered outside the mosque to pay their respects to those killed and injured in the attack, Aisha Amir stood next to the police cordon with her friend, Ijeoma Mbanye, holding signs that read “United Against All Terror”. She told that Muslim people in the area would be scared to leave their homes following the attack.
“Every time they go out people are going to feel they aren’t safe”, she said. “People are going to be afraid to go out. You’re going about your own business and then all of a sudden you’re attacked and you’re on the floor. I am scared but I also think we’re all human and we should all love each other.”
Eight-year-old Abdirahman Muhammed, who lives near the mosque, was speaking alongside his mother, Mona, having heard the attack take place. He said: “I’m really scared. They keep saying he did it deliberately. When I was sleeping I could hear it and I couldn’t even sleep. I kept on opening my eyes and I was scared. I thought there was going to be a big lorry crashing into our house.”
Amina Abdi, 50, who attends a mosque in nearby Hornsey, said she and her friends were “shocked” by the incident.
“It’s confused young men, Islamists, that cause people to do this. But yes, we have been victimised in the press too. It has been treated as if our religion is responsible,” she said.