Police begin to question ‘troubled’ Finsbury Park Mosque attacker

Family of man who drove his van into crowd of Muslims say he is 'no terrorist - he’s just a man with problems'.

School children arrive to lay flowers in tribute to the victims of a van attack in the Finsbury Park area of north London. Tolga Akmen / AFP
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LONDON // Police on Tuesday questioned a man arrested after he mowed down Muslims in a London street, as the interior minister said Britain was “bruised but not broken” by a series of terror attacks.

Britain was coming to terms with the aftermath of its fourth bloody assault in three months following Monday’s van attack on worshippers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London.

The string of attacks had “bruised but not broken the heart of this great nation”, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said.

The family of Darren Osborne, the man who drove the van, said he was “troubled”, and described his action as “sheer madness”.

Police believe Osborne, 47, a father-of-four from Cardiff, acted alone and searches were being conducted at his former home in the Welsh capital.

Police are treating the incident as a terror attack and British prime minister Theresa May described it as “sickening”, vowing Monday to fight extremism in all its forms.

The attack raised fears of retaliation against Muslims after a series of deadly assaults in Britain by extremists.

One man who was already receiving first aid at the time died after the attack, nine people were taken to hospital and two others were treated for minor injuries.

“I’m sorry that my brother has been that troubled that it has taken him to this level of troubledness,” said Osborne’s sister Nicola.

“He has just been troubled for a long time.”

His mother Christine, 72, said she screamed when she saw her son in television footage.

"My son is no terrorist – he's just a man with problems," she said.

In a statement on behalf of his family, his nephew Ellis Osborne, 26, said: “We are massively shocked.

“Our hearts go out to the people who have been injured.”

His uncle was “not a racist”, he said. “It’s madness. It is obviously sheer madness.”

Londoners carrying flowers and messages of solidarity gathered late on Monday at the scene of the attack, some carrying signs reading “United Against All Terror”.

Another vigil is planned for Tuesday.

The van driver was pinned down by locals before being shielded from retaliatory violence by an imam and detained by police.

Police earlier said Osborne had been arrested on suspicion of “the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism including murder and attempted murder”.

London police chief Cressida Dick said the incident was “quite clearly an attack on Muslims” and promised a stepped-up police presence near mosques as Ramadan draws to a close.

Interior minister Amber Rudd said Muslims needed to feel safe in Britain and the government was working to tackle all forms of hate crime and extremism.

"Indicative figures suggest that over half of those who experience hate because of their religion are Muslim. Any hate crime is unacceptable but this stark figure is something we will not shy away from," she wrote in The Guardian newspaper.

“We stand with the Muslim community – you are not alone, we share your pain and we will not let you down.”

One victim of Monday’s attack has no memory of what happened, according to his nephew.

“He is bleeding out of his ear, but in general his health was stable,” he said after visiting his uncle Hamza Sharif in hospital.

“He has a fracture in his skull – but they still don’t know why the bleeding from his ear is not stopping yet,” the Somali-born man said.

Mr Sharif “does not remember anything” of the attack and kept asking “what was wrong”.

* Agence France-Presse