Suspect in London Mosque Attack Had Contact With Far-Right Groups


А British man accused of killing a worshiper and injuring several others when he rammed a van into a congregation of Muslims leaving a London mosque last year had been in contact with far-right groups before the attack, prosecutors said at his trial on Tuesday.

The BBC reported that the man, Darren Osborne, 48, had received a Twitter message from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a group that recently gained notoriety after President Trump recirculated unverified anti-Muslim videos it had posted online. Ms. Fransen was arrested in December on charges related to hate crimes.

Mr. Osborne, whom his former partner described as a “loner,” had also received an email from an account linked to the English Defence League, an extremist group that opposes what it claims to be the spread of Islam and Shariah law in Britain.

Officials say that Mr. Osborne plowed into a group of worshipers leaving the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London on June 19 during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. One man was killed and at least 10 people were injured.

It was among a spate of terrorist attacks that shook Britain. A month earlier, a homemade bomb had exploded at an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people, many of them children, and injuring more than 500 others. The man identified as the bomber, Salman Abedi, had links to the Islamic State. And in June, attacks on London Bridge and at Borough Market, also inspired by the Islamic State, killed eight people.

The BBC quoted prosecutors in Mr. Osborne’s trial as saying that he had looked to the Britain First leaders Paul Golding and Ms. Fransen, as well as Tommy Robinson, a founder

Jurors at the trial, in Woolwich Crown Court in London, were shown a screenshot found on Mr. Osborne’s computer that described Britain turning into a country built on “hatred, on violence and on Islam.”

The defendant received an invitation to a protest from an account belonging to Mr. Robinson that called for demonstrators to “stand up to hate” and “say ‘no more’ ” The invitation said the bombing in Manchester was “not the beginning and it won’t be the end,” according to the BBC.

Prosecutors said that in the week before the attack Mr. Osborne had been heard “preaching racial hatred” in a pub. He was said to have told one pub customer, a soldier: “I’m going to kill all the Muslims. Muslims are all terrorists. Your families are all going to be Muslim. I’m going to take it into my own hands.”

Mr. Osborne’s former partner, Sarah Andrews, reportedly said he had been “brainwashed” after watching reports about a child sexual exploitation ring in Rochdale, a borough of Manchester, that had been organized by a group of British Pakistanis.

A handwritten note found in the van that plowed into the Muslim worshipers described Muslims as “feral” and child predators. “Don’t people get it,” it read. “This is happening up and down our Green and pleasant land.”

Jonathan Rees, the leading prosecutor, said that “the underlying theme” seemed to be that Mr. Osborne felt that not enough “was being said or done to counter terrorism and the grooming gangs comprising predominantly Muslim males.”

“Against that background,” Mr. Rees added, “the defendant decided to take matters into his own hands.”



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