Britain will on Tuesday mark the first anniversary of a deadly terror attack against a north London mosque, with Prime Minister Theresa May vowing that “vile extremism” will not divide the nation.
Mourners will hold a minute’s silence at 9:30 a.m. to remember father-of-six Makram Ali, who died when Darren Osborne ploughed a hire van onto a crowded pavement close to Finsbury Park mosque, intending to kill as many Muslims as possible. The attack, on June 19 last year, also left 12 injured.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid and London Mayor Sadiq Khan are expected to attend the event at nearby Islington Town Hall.
Osborne, 48, left a note in the van, in which he said he was seeking revenge for Islamist terror attacks and a child sex scandal, and named mayor Khan as someone that he also wanted to kill. The mayor described it as an “evil attack designed to divide us.”
“Instead, the response from the local community, and Londoners more widely, was and remains an inspiration to us all,” he added.
Osborne, from the Welsh capital Cardiff, was in February sentenced to life in prison with a minimum 43-year term. “Last year’s cowardly attack which targeted innocent worshippers leaving Finsbury Park mosque is an attack on all of us,” May said in a statement. “As with all acts of terrorism the intention was to divide us but we will not let this happen. We are a country of many faiths and freedom of worship and respect for those of different faiths is fundamental to this country’s values and these values will never be broken by vile extremism,” she added.
When passing sentence at a London court, judge Bobbie Cheema-Grubb said that Osborne had been “rapidly radicalized” and that his “mindset became one of malevolent hatred. In short you allowed your mind to be poisoned by those who claimed to be leaders.”
Osborne became radicalized over a month last year after watching a television program about a child sex ring scandal involving a gang of mainly Muslim men in northern England. Former far-right leader Nigel Bromage called the attack “a sobering reminder that the threat from far-right extremism is no different from the Islamist threat. Both share a common desire to spread fear and divide society, ultimately two sides of the same coin.”
Witnesses recalled Osborne saying: “I’ve done my job, you can kill me now” and “at least I had a proper go” in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
The handwritten note found in the van read: “Why are their terrorists on our streets today? Islam’s ideology doesn’t belong here and neither does sharia law.”
The Manchester suicide bombing in May 2017 and the London Bridge van attack and stabbing rampage in June that year further fueled his obsession, the court was told.