LONDON: An imam has been praised after he saved the Finsbury Park attack suspect from being beaten when crowds pulled him from the van he used to kill one and injure many more.
The incident happened when a van was driven at high speed into pedestrians near a mosque where Muslims had been praying, killing at least one person and injuring 10.
Witnesses said they saw people at the scene grab the man, pulling him from the van and started hitting him. But imam Mohammed Mahmoud stepped up and told the angry crowd to stop and to restrain the suspect until police arrived instead.
One witness, who went by the name Abdul, told The Independent: “People gather on that part of the street during Ramadan to chat and socialize so it was premeditated. He knew what he was doing.
“He waited until people had come out then drove at the people on the right then swerved to hit people on the left. Someone was lying under his van shouting ‘Help me’.
“He 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.’
Now imam Mahmoud has been praised for his actions. Tewfik Kacimi, chief executive of the nearby Muslim Welfare House, thanked the imam, saying his “bravery and courage helped calm the immediate situation after the incident and prevented further injuries and potential loss of life.”
Witness Hamza Nimane, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that worshippers from the mosque had managed to capture the attacker before police arrived.
“They’re the ones that grabbed him and managed to hold him down… There were at least 300 people in the mosque praying, and everyone was panicking, everyone was screaming.”
Describing the scene, he said there were people lying in the street, several with blood on their heads. Nimane said some of the people looked dead.
Police arrested the man soon after. Witnesses described him as white, with tattoos, while police later confirmed they had arrested a 48-year-old on suspicion of attempted murder, they added they were not looking for anyone else.
Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu confirmed that the incident was being treated as a “terrorist attack.” He then thanked worshippers who restrained the attacker.