LONDON – British-born terrorist, Darren Osborne, who hired a van and drove it into a group of Muslims who had just finished their prayers at Finsbury Park mosque on June 19th, 2017, was found guilty by a jury of eight women and four men in less than an hour.
“Osborne was charged and tried under Section 30 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. The fact he was found guilty of murder and attempted murder does not change his charge of terrorism,” said Hennai Rai, Founder and Director of Women Against Radicalization Network (WARN).
Osborne, who had vowed to ‘kill all Muslims,’ murdered one man, Makram Ali, a 51-year-old grandfather, while injuring twelve others.
Bragging about his attack, Osborne told the court, “If (London mayor) Saddiq Khan would have been there, it would have been even better, like winning the lottery.”
Hennai Rai, added, “Far-right terrorism is also being acknowledged as a growing threat, however, the media occasionally get their responsibility wrong for not providing the same platform as they do when reporting other acts of terror.”
A post shared widely on social media shows three publications are reporting the same news in three different ways:
- BBC News: Man who drove van into crowd of people near mosque in Finsbury Park, London, guilty of murder and attempted murder
- The Guardian: Darren Osborne convicted of murder for terrorist van attack in London’s Finsbury Park in June 2017
- Sky News: Terrorist who drove van into Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque guilty of murder
Writing in The Guardian, Vikhram Dodd and Kevin Rawlinson observed that he “had been ‘brainwashed’ after gorging on extremist rightwing propaganda online. The circumstances of radicalization led one anti-extremism organization to warn that online hate speech was a growing problem.” (1)
Speaking to Channel 4 News, Imam Mohammad Mahmoud, who was praised for stepping out and protecting Osborne so that justice could be pursued through our UK courts said, “When he was restrained, he was heard saying that he wanted to kill all Muslims. Then afterward he said, ‘I did my bit, now kill me.’ So, he clearly wanted to be martyred for his cause. But thankfully his wish wasn’t granted to him.”
Dean Haydon, the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism Commander said, “It is clear that in the space of only a few weeks, Osborne developed a warped and twisted view to such a degree that he was prepared to plan and carry out this attack… My view of Osborne is that he is a troubled, vile and hate-filled individual and, if you look back over 30 years, he has a history of violence, a history of alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and depression.” (2)
The Independent newspaper reported that Callum Spencer, a Royal engineers soldier, said that he overheard Osborne speaking in a pub the night before the attack saying, “I’m going to kill Muslims, your family and going to be Muslims, they’re all terrorists and I’m going to take it into my own hands.” (3)
While the UK government’s Prevent program may be controversial, often seen to be targeting Muslims, a third of referrals were related to threats posed by right-wing extremists.
Looking to address extremism in all of its forms, Sara Khan, the Lead Commissioner for Countering Extremism in the UK, has said, “I want us to come together to confront extremists – far right, Islamist or any other. I want to show that the people of this country reject hatred, bigotry, and racism and instead chose tolerance, decency, and respect.”
Part of what makes any society successful is when people, irrespective of their personal faiths, can find a common ground upon which to live, to respect, and honor one another. Due process, transparency, and accountability before the law are values which give confidence to all in a society that justice will be served and the end goal of safety and security for all can be delivered.