Monday, 19 June 2017

Finsbury Park Mosque Attack
Finsbury Park Mosque Terror Attack

A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park
A man prays after a vehicle collided with pedestrians near a mosque in the Finsbury Park CREDIT: REUTERS

Just ten minutes after midnight on the morning of 19th June, 2017, a van hired in South Wales and driven by solidly built forty-eight year old man, with a mop of black hair and a moustache, ploughed into worshippers as they were leaving their Ramadan prayers. It is reported that at least one elderly man has died and ten were taken to hospital with injuries. 

This is the latest is a series of three similar attacks in London and Manchester and only five days after the disastrous Grenfell Tower blaze in which upwards of fifty people died. Suspicious circumstances surround all of these incidents with many still to be answered questions over how they occurred and were responded to.

This latest incident seems to share a similar methodology with the Westminster and London Bridge incidents, and several that have taken place on mainland Europe, beginning with Nice in July 2016. However it is different in several respects, not least in how it was responded to by the authorities. It tends to suggest unlike the three previous attacks referred to, there was not an element of pre-planning and expectation on the part of police and other agencies.

For example in both the London bridges incidents, armed officers were immediately on hand to shoot dead the alleged attackers. In the Manchester case, remarkably no less than 60 ambulances were immediately queueing on scene, whilst fire appliances were not summoned for 90 minutes. This tells us something.

In contrast, in this latest case on Seven Sisters Road, first police did not arrive it is claimed for about half an hour, and then just conventional officers. The alleged attacker was arrested only because of prompt local action to overwhelm the man, something that clearly didn't happen in the previous instances.

Then from a Twitter 'tweet' shown below, it appears that the new breed of armed 'terror' police did not arrive for more than three hours! From the policing point of view, there can be little reason for this major contrast in response to superficially similar events, without an explanation of expectation and preparedness.

Police counter terror vans have arrived - cordon being extended 

It is and will be interesting to note how press, media and authorities respond to it. Although Prime Minister, Government Ministers and leading politicians have put out their usual expressions of concern and condolence, we wait to see if it will elicit the same degree of organised empathy and artistic expression.

Already we learn that the alleged attacker was taken to hospital rather than police cell. In addition the police spokesman has seeded the notion of a mental health assessment. Certainly this is a much better fate than was meted out to previous attackers and may be evidence of subtle manipulation of the narrative between this and 'real' 'terrorism'?

Time will tell.

Finally, perhaps we should also flag up an important conflict between claims that at some point there were others in the van that apparently had been parked locally prior to the incident, with the stated view of the police that, "No other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police." The certainty this represents at such an early stage is unusual. Note it contains no conjunction, such as a 'but', that might indicate in the light of witness claims, the possibility was still being considered.

Such small details can be indicators of underlying attitude and approach. The official 'playing up' or 'playing down' of 'terror' incidents?

As always, the question is whether this is an isolated incident by an individual, or whether it represents evidence of deeper and darker organisation? 

The Telegraph here 
( reports as follows: 

Emergency services at the scene close to Finsbury Park Mosque
Emergency services at the scene close to Finsbury Park Mosque CREDIT: THOMAS VAN HULLE/TWITTER

"The van driver - described by witnesses as a large white man - was detained by members of the public after the incident in Finsbury Park early on Monday that police said had "all the hallmarks of terrorism".
"The white van ploughed into pedestrians as the area was busy with worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers in Seven Sisters Road at 12.20am.
"Adil Rana, 24, who was outside the mosque when the van drove towards the crowd, saw blood and "people dead on the floor" in the aftermath.
"He said: "The van was driving towards us to try and basically hit us at speed and everyone was shocked and people were screaming. There were people on the floor."
"Mr Rana, from Walthamstow, said the driver was held on the ground by some of the crowd after getting out the vehicle."Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu thanked members of the public for restraining the suspect.
Earlier, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "He has been taken to hospital as a precaution and will be taken into custody once discharged. He will also be subject of a mental health assessment in due course."
"Some witnesses said more than one attacker might have been involved, but police said "no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported to police".
"Mr Abdullahi said the arrested man looked "indifferent" and "like he didn't even care".
"Sami Ali, 20, who had left the mosque just minutes before the attack, claimed the driver of the van was smiling and waving when police took him away, reports Martin Evans.
"He said: "He was smiling and waving when the police took him away."
"Zoheir Cheref, who arrived on the scene around five minutes after the incident, said witnesses claimed the driver said: "I did the job" as he got out of the van, reports Crime Correspondent Martin Evans.
"Witness Ratip al-Sulamein described the driver as a "white guy in his mid 40s". He said: "People grabbed him and he just said 'I done my bit'."
"Mr Ahmed claimed that a total of three men were in the van, but two had escaped. However, police said "no other suspects at the scene have been identified or reported" to the force.

Two images of the accused attacker
The suspect is led into a police van by officers
The suspect is led into a police van by officers CREDIT: SKY NEWS

The suspect is taken away by police in Finsbury Park CREDIT: SKY NEWS

"Abdulrahman Saleh Alamoudi said he was among a group of people helping an elderly worshipper who had fallen down, perhaps because of the heat, when the van swerved towards them.

"Then we managed to get him on the floor. Then he was saying, 'Kill me, kill me'. I said, 'We are not going to kill you. Why did you do that?' He wouldn't say anything."

"He said they had to hold the suspect on the ground for up to half an hour before police arrived.

"The guy, I had to keep him at least half an hour. He was a strong guy. A big man," he said.

Smiling ambulance personnel? Rather inexplicable and inappropriate after a potentially 'terrorist attack'?
A victim is taken away on a stretcher by medics at Finsbury Park CREDIT:  JAMES GOURLEY/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK
A victim is taken away on a stretcher by medics at Finsbury Park

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