An imam has been praised as a “hero” for guarding the van driver who is suspected of mowing down Muslim worshippers in Finsbury Park until the police arrived.
Mohammed Mahmoud is said to have used his body to shield the suspected terrorist, who had been wrestled from his vehicle, from the fury of onlookers near the Finsbury Park mosque in north London.
He is said to have told the gathering crowd: “Do not touch him.”
The attacker had been acting violently as he was restrained and allegedly told the injured people: “You deserve it.”
The imam was hailed as the “hero of the day” by Toufik Kacimi, chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House, outside which the attack took place.
Mr Kacimi arrived an hour after the attack and spoke in detail to Mr Mahmoud about the scenes of horror.
He said: “The guy, he came out and said ‘You deserve, I did my bit, you deserve it’ and he was shouting and screaming abusive language – what for? What did he do, this man? He is an innocent man.
“I spoke to the eyewitness who caught the man and kept him safe, stopped him from being harmed by the local group that he attacked.
“Our imam, Mohammed Mahmoud, contained the guy – he was very violent. He contained him with two or three other guys and gave him to the police once they arrived.
“They were worshippers. A man was taken ill and they were trying to help him, that is why there was a large crowd and visibly you can tell people are Muslims, I am not going to say the countries but they were clearly Muslim.
“He saw a crowd of people and drove with speed into them.
“Mohammed was the hero of the day, he was the one who contained the guy and held him up until the police came and took him away.”
Witness Hussain Ali also claimed the suspect was smiling and waving as he brought carnage to Seven Sisters Road in Finsbury Park, north London.
He said: “All I heard was a banging, then I turned and saw all the shouting and running.
“I saw people taking a man from underneath the van, he was black, bleeding, he was not dead, he was alive.
“There was a man in a wheelchair, a man underneath the van, it was hell.
“People who were inside saw the attacker was smiling, he was waving, he was happy.
“It was panic, people were shouting, screaming, some saying it was an accident.
“It was panic, it was horror.”
The attack on a group of worshippers is being treated as terrorism, police said.
One man died after the driver targeted people on Seven Sisters Road early this morning. 10 more were injured, two very seriously.
Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid spoke briefly to concerned residents before being led through the police cordon as he visited the scene.
Mr Javid was seen comforting a woman, who was visibly shaking, outside the police cordon.
He paused to speak with her as she wiped away tears with a tissue.
Prime Minister Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergencies committee to discuss the attack this morning.
Top pic: PA