Darren Osborne has been charged with terrorism-related offences related to the Finsbury Park mosque attack, police have said. The 47-year-old from Cardiff was also charged with attempted murder over the crash which left one dead and 11 injured.
Counter-terror officers have been investigating after a van hit worshippers leaving evening prayers at a mosque on Seven Sisters Road in north London in the early hours of Monday.
Osborne’s family claimed he was “not a racist” in an initial statement but said he had been “troubled for a long time”. His sister said he underwent rehabilitation for drug and alcohol problems 20 years ago and had recently attempted suicide.
The van driver, who was not previously known to security services, is currently in custody and will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court this afternoon, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Tributes have been paid to grandfather Makram Ali, 51, who died from multiple injuries in the incident. Mr Ali, from Harringey, came to the UK from Bangladesh when he was 10 years old and was said to be a well-known face around Finsbury Park through his regular attendance at worship.
His family called him a “quiet gentle man” who “didn’t get involved in political or social discussion”.“He instead took comfort and enjoyment spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren and he was always ready to make a funny joke when you least expected,” they said.
Len Evans said: “Together with all the staff at Pontyclun Van Hire, I am doing everything I can to assist the Metropolitan Police in their inquiries.”
Detectives have released a photo of the van used in the attack, registration number PO54 CSF, while calling on anyone who spoke to the driver in the day leading up to the attack to call on 0800 789 321.
An imam reportedly saved Osborne from being attacked by members of the public in the immediate aftermath of the crash. One witness said the furious crowd might have injured or killed him were it not for the intervention of Mohammed Mahmoud.
An eyewitness who gave his name as Abdul told The Independent Osborne “tried to run away but we brought him down. He would’ve died because so many people were punching him but the imam came out and said ‘No more punching, let’s keep him down until the police come’.”
Community groups and charities have condemned the attack, warning against entering a “cycle of tit-for-tat violence” that is the goal of extremists.
In a statement, the organisation Hope Not Hate said “we must oppose far-right extremism with the same intensity that we oppose Islamist extremism – a plague on both their houses is our call, as we said back in 2013 after the murder of Lee Rigby.”
Neil Basu of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said counter-terror officers have spoken to 28 witnesses who were at the scene of the attack so far, trawled through around 80 hours of CCTV, visited 140 locations and recovered 33 digital devices from properties in Wales.