London Finsbury Park Mosque attack

Tensions have been raised and complicated by what is being treated as a terrorist attack with a van that hit people coming out of a mosque in London.

BBC:  ‘Major incident’ as van hits worshippers

Summary

  1. One man has died and 10 people have been injured
  2. Home Secretary Amber Rudd says it is being treated by police as a “terrorist incident”
  3. Muslim Council of Britain says van intentionally ran over worshippers
  4. A 48-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder
  5. The Metropolitan Police describe it as a “major incident”
  6. The area was busy with worshippers leaving evening prayers at Finsbury Park Mosque

Alleged attacker ‘acted alone’ – police

Asked about reports of a number of suspects running away from the van, the Met police said that was a key line of inquiry at the start of investigation.

“But from what we are seeing and what witnesses are reporting to us there was nobody else in the van, it appears that this time this attacker attacked alone,” Dep Asst Commissioner Basu said.

“This is not to say we are not investigating the full circumstances of how he came to be where he was but at this point in time there was nobody else in the van.”

Not the first terror attack against Muslims

This is not the first time that Muslims have been targeted in an apparent act of terrorism in the UK – and all the signs are that this terrible incident is nothing short of that.

The threat from extreme right-wing groups has been growing in recent years – 16% of all terror arrests in the year to March were classed as “domestic extremism”.

Those who have turned to violence have tended to go for visible Muslim targets – namely mosques.

In 2013 an extreme right-wing Ukrainian man murdered a Muslim grandfather in Birmingham and tried to bomb three mosques.

The following year saw the jailing for 10 years of a man from the north-west who was researching bomb-making and mosques to target.

And just last December the Home Secretary banned “National Action”, a group whose supporters have been investigated for planning violence.

It was probably just a matter of time before there was some sort of retaliatory attack in response to Muslim suicide attacks, but again innocent people have been targeted.

Difficult times for people in London and throughout England.

Any attack like this that targets random and innocent people must be condemned, no matter who the perpetrator is and no matter who the targets are.

 

Trump: standing up to hate and intolerance

Doing what a president needs to do – speaking against hate and intolerance, and against violence.

Politico: Trump in tweet: Portland attack ‘unacceptable’

President Donald Trump on Monday morning condemned the attacks in Portland, Oregon, where two people were killed after trying to intervene as a man delivered an anti-Muslim rant directed at two women on a train.

The tweet was sent after Trump arrived to give remarks at the Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day.

On Saturday, three men were allegedly attacked after they tried to stop a suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, from verbally disparaging the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab.

 

Westminster attack: “clearly an interest in jihad”

London’s metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner “Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ, there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

In a statement Khalid Masood’s mother says she is “deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken” and “I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity”.

Guardian: Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had interest in jihad – police

Khalid Masood, who killed four people in the Westminster attack, had a clear interest in jihad and his method echoed the rhetoric of Islamic State leaders, Scotland Yard has said.

Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for UK counter-terrorism policing, said on Monday there was no evidence yet that Kent-born Masood, 52, had discussed his plans with others.

“His attack method appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks, and echo the rhetoric of IS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians, but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others.

“There is no evidence that Masood was radicalised in prison in 2003, as has been suggested; this is pure speculation at this time. Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ [al-Qaida], there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

There does appear to be at least an interest in the methods and aims of ISIS and Al Qaida, even if there was no direct association.

Masood’s mother, Janet Ajao, released a statement:

“I am so deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken that have killed and injured innocent people in Westminster. Since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident.

“I wish to make it absolutely clear, so there can be no doubt, I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity. I wish to thank my friends, family and community from the bottom of my heart for the love and support given to us.”

It would be a terrible thing for a parent to have their child involved in this sort of despicable attack. She has lost a son in one of the worst possible ways, and has to live with the stigma of the attack.

Police: London attacker acted alone

BBC: London attacker Khalid Masood acted alone, say police

Westminster attacker Khalid Masood acted alone and there is no information to suggest further attacks are planned, Metropolitan Police have said.

Deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said in a statement: “We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this.”

More detail from the Guardian: Westminster attacker acted alone and motive may never be known, say police

In the most detailed breakdown yet of events on Westminster Bridge and parliament on Wednesday, police said that the entire attack, in which Masood had killed four people before being shot dead, lasted a mere 82 seconds.

After four days of intensive inquiries across England and Wales, involving hundreds of officers, the Metropolitan police said they had so far failed to establish the reason for the attack. It is continuing to look at whether Masood was prompted by online propaganda by Islamic State, which has claimed he was a “soldier”, or whether he had some other sense of grievance.

But deputy assistant Metropolitan police commissioner Neil Basu said: “We still believe that Masood acted alone on the day and there is no information or intelligence to suggest there are further attacks planned.”

The security services do not like the term “lone wolf”, feeling that it glamorises an attacker, and instead prefer “lone actor”. Although 11 people were arrested in the aftermath of the attack, eight have since been released, with no further action to be taken. A 58-year-old man remained in custody on Saturday and two more have been released on bail.

Police are investigating media reports that Masood checked his encrypted messaging service WhatsApp – or even sent a message – just before the attack, which hinted at others being involved. The police statement confirming that he was a lone actor does not appear to support suggestions that he had been in touch with an accomplice.

Basu, who is the senior national coordinator for UK counter-terrorism policing, said: “Even if he acted alone in the preparation, we need to establish with absolute clarity why he did these unspeakable acts to bring reassurance to Londoners, and to provide answers and closure for the families of those killed and the victims and survivors of this atrocity.

Unless they have left recordings and writings behind dead men tell no tales.

Car attack in Melbourne

There has been what appears to be an attack by car in Melbourne, with the current toll at three dead and about twenty injured. It is not thought to be a terror attack.

Sky News:  Three pedestrians killed by car in Melbourne

Three people are dead and many others injured after a man deliberately drove into a crowd in Melbourne’s Bourke St mall.

Up to 20 others are injured and a man has been arrested after a car struck pedestrians at the Elizabeth St end of the mall.

Victoria Police say they have arrested a suspect and that the indicent is thought to be connected to a stabbing earlier on Friday.

Officers told the media that the incident is not thought to be terrorism-related.

Attacks like this are horrific no matter who carries them out and no matter what their motive is.

UPDATE: The suspect has been shot and is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

The incident was related to a stabbing in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor earlier today that left the man’s brother in a critical condition, police said.

Police say following the Windsor stabbing, the man took a woman who is known to him hostage, but she managed to escape.

Berlin attacker may be still at large

Twelve people were killed in the horrendous truck attack in Berlin, and another 48 injured, 18 of them severely.

While it looks like an Islam extremist related attack there’s some uncertainty. Police arrested a Pakistani asylum seeker but admit he may not be the attacker.

RNZ: German police say arrested man may not be Christmas market attacker

German authorities say they cannot be sure if a man in custody was behind the truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people.

Police arrested a Pakistani asylum-seeker but have said he may not be the attacker and the real perpetrator could still be on the run.

The Pakistani man was captured in a park after reportedly fleeing the scene. He has denied involvement.

The 23-year-old arrived in Germany from Pakistan at the end of last year.

“According to my information it’s uncertain whether he was really the driver,” Police President Klaus Kandt told a news conference.

Berlin police tweeted that they were “particularly alert” because of the denial.

Die Welt newspaper quoted an unnamed police chief as saying: “We have the wrong man. And therefore a new situation. The true perpetrator is still armed, at large and can cause fresh damage.”

The truck belonged to a Polish freight company and its rightful driver was found dead in the vehicle. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said a pistol believed to have been used to kill him had not yet been found.

“We have to entertain the theory that the detainee might possibly not have been the perpetrator,” federal prosecutor Peter Frank told reporters.

The style of attack and the target suggested Islamic extremism, he said.

That’s an obvious assumption to make.

The attack makes things even more difficult for Angela Merkel, already having difficulty with the influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “There is much we still do not know with sufficient certainty but we must, as things stand now, assume it was a terrorist attack.”

She added: “I know it would be especially hard for us all to bear if it were confirmed that the person who committed this act was someone who sought protection and asylum.”

The attack fuelled immediate demands for a change to Ms Merkel’s immigration policies, under which more than a million people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere have arrived in Germany this year and last.

“We must say that we are in a state of war, although some people, who always only want to see good, do not want to see this,” said Klaus Bouillon, interior minister of the state of Saarland and a member of Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU).

Horst Seehofer, leader of the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, said: “We owe it to the victims, to those affected and to the whole population to rethink our immigration and security policy and to change it.”

It’s not going to be easy to change things quickly. There are already a large number of  immigrants in Germany, and Europe’s open borders make it easy for people intent on inflicting death and mayhem to move from country to country.

And when individuals or small numbers of Islamic terrorists launch successful attacks – and it’s impossible to prevent them completely – it raises tensions and makes things more difficult for the majority of Muslims who are not involved in extremist acts.

Munich update

The Guardian reports on the Munich killings.

Munich gunman lured victims on Facebook with ‘free McDonald’s food’

German police say 18-year-old who killed nine people aged 13 to 45 and himself had researched school killing sprees

The lone teenager who shot dead nine people and injured 27 others in Munich had researched school killing sprees and attempted to lure victims to the scene of his rampage with an offer of free food on social media, officials have said.

Police said the 18-year-old gunman, who opened fire at a crowded shopping centre and McDonald’s restaurant on Friday evening, had been raised in Munich and was still in full-time education.

They added that he had likely been in psychiatric care and there were indicators he had been treated for depression.

Robert Heimberger, a police investigator, said on Saturday it appeared the gunman had hacked a Facebook account and lured people to the shopping centre with an offer of free food.

The gunman, who has been identified as Ali Sonboly, is said to have researched mass-casualty attacks and had an obsession with shooting sprees, including the 2011 massacre in Norway carried out bythe rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik.

Stuff: Munich shooting: Gunman ‘obsessed’ with mass killings, had no ties to Isis

Munich authorities said Saturday that the gunman who went on a rampage at a shopping centre Friday, leaving nine people dead, had no ties to the Islamic State or other extremist groups. Instead, police believe, he was obsessed with mass killings and may have been mentally ill.

The southern German city’s police chief said investigators had found a trove of electronic data and written materials at the suspect’s home suggesting that he had extensively researched shooting sprees before he went on one of his own Friday afternoon. The items recovered included a book by a US academic on school shootings titled “Rampage in the Head: Why Students Kill.”

Some crazy people use religious ideology as an excuse to kill, others use other excuses.

It was reported yesterday that some ISIS supporters online were celebrating the Munich massacre but I’m not aware of any official claim of ISIS involvement.

It is very difficult to fully protect against attacks like this, and impossible to prevent them altogether.

While they get a lot of attention and spark widespread fears, and also provoke generalised and prejudiced reactions, there are much bigger risks from fellow citizens on the roads, on the streets and in homes.

Attack in Munich

Several days after an attack in a train in Bavaria that injured several people before the attacker was shot dead there is news of a shooting in a shopping mall in Munich.

Spiegel Online: Tote in München – Polizei spricht von Terrorverdacht

Die Welt: München ruft “Sonderfall” wegen einer “Amoklage” aus

CNN: Munich shooting: Police operation underway, report says several killed at mall

A police operation is underway after gunfire erupted at a shopping center in Munich Friday. CNN affiliate NTV reports several are dead and others are wounded. Authorities shut down public transportation and warned people to stay home or seek protection.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • At least one shooter is still on the loose after a shooting inside a McDonald’s across from the Olympia shopping mall, police spokeswoman Claudia Küntzel said. “There could be several dead and one or even several shooters are on the loose,” Küntzel said. The shooting at the McDonald’s happened around 5:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. ET), she said. It’s unclear whether shootings have occurred at other locations, and whether the gunfire has stopped.
  • Gunfire also broke out inside the mall, witnesses said.
  • On Facebook, police said gunfire was reported in several locations, and that witnesses report seeing three different people with firearms.
  • “At the moment, we have not been able to arrest any perpetrators. The manhunt is underway at high speed,” police said. “Because of the unclear situation we ask all people in the city area to stay at home or to look for protection in any nearby building. The operation of public transportation service has been stopped.”

Guardian: Munich shooting: at least three people killed – live updates

  • German interior ministry confirms three deaths
  • Witnesses report three gunmen in area around shopping centre
  • Authorities declare emergency and advise residents not to leave home

What I don’t know and I don’t know if anyone knows is whether the recent attacks in Nice, Wurzburg and now Munich have any connection as some sort of campaign, or whether they are a spate of individual attacks with one perhaps precipitating the next independently.

Newstalk ZB seem to be overhyping their headlines: Many killed in Munich shopping mall shooting

But: “German NTV is reporting the Bavarian interior ministry has confirmed three people have died in the shooting” and “German NTV is reporting the Bavarian interior ministry has confirmed three people have died in the shooting”.

Guardian updates:

Six dead, German police say
German police confirm that there was a shooting in Hanauer Street, adjacent to the shopping centre. Six people have been killed and an unknown number injured.

Police are now saying that there are nine people are dead. They do not know at this stage – and are checking – whether the additional person is one of the gunmen.

Asked if this was a terror attack, a police spokesman said: “If a man with a long gun in a shopping centre opens fire and eight people are dead, we have to work on the assumption that this was not a normal crime and was a terrorist act.”

He confirmed that the police were looking for three perpetrators and said officers were getting support from elite units but have not found any weapons.

Another death confirmed but a suggestion it could be an attacker.

There are now unconfirmed reports in local media that about 20 people are injured; some of them very gravely. Earlier, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign minister, said that local authorities were doing all the could to save lives.

Guardian: Here’s where things stand at 3:30am GMT

Nine people were shot and killed, and a further 21 injured, in an attack at a shopping center in Munich on Friday evening
Despite early reports of multiple attackers, there was only one gunman, whom police identified as an 18-year-old with dual German and Iranian citizenship.
The gunman shot himself, bringing the death toll to ten
His motive is still “fully unknown”, the chief of Munich police told a press conference in the early hours of Saturday morning
Sixteen people remain in hospital, police said, three of whom are in “serious” condition

ISIS perhaps but hardly Islam

As details appears that the Nice mass murderer emerge it appears that he was not even a moderate Muslim let alone radical, but despite no evidence of any connection ISIS claim he was acting for them.

And the French defence minister blames ISIS regardless of whether there was any actual links or not.

Some accounts of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel conflict and some are vague and unsubstantiated, which will provide enough ammunition for people with a variety of views to claim what happened in Nice fits their opinion on who and what was to blame.

From New York Times: France Blames ISIS for Inspiring Terrorist Attack in Nice

The Islamic State had kept silent on the Nice attack until Saturday morning, when it declared, in a bulletin issued in Arabic and in English on its Amaq News Agency channel: “Executor of the deadly operation in Nice, France, was a soldier of the Islamic State. He executed the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations, which fight the Islamic State.”

 The claim must be greeted with caution, because there was yet no evidence suggesting that the driver was radicalized, or had even been exposed to the Islamic State’s propaganda.

ISIS are using it for their propaganda whether there was any actual connection between them and the killer or not. We may or may not ever find out whether ISIS involvement was actual before the attack or opportunist after it.

In 2014, the Islamic State’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, called on the group’s followers to attack Westerners in retaliation for strikes by the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. He has repeatedly singled out France, which is part of the coalition, as a main enemy.

However, no evidence has emerged that Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel got training or orders from the Islamic State. The Islamic State has blurred the line between operations planned and carried out by its core fighters and those carried out by sympathizers inspired, only at a distance, to commit violence.

The defence defence minister blames ISIS anyway.

But on Saturday, France’s defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said: “I remind you that Daesh’s ideologue, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has for several weeks repeated calls to attack directly, even individually, Frenchmen, in particular, or Americans, wherever they are, by any means necessary,” using an Arabic name for the Islamic State.

 “It is murder, and Daesh’s claim of responsibility comes later, as has happened in other recent events,” Mr. Le Drian added. “Even if Daesh doesn’t do the organizing, Daesh inspires this terrorist spirit, against which we are fighting.”

Obviously ISIS/Daesh may influence and ‘inspire’ nutters to do terrible things. It’s just as feasible that inspiration and encouragement came from social media or was simply a copycat type of attack with ISIS being an excuse.

Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, a native of Tunisia, had a history of petty crime going back to 2010. He received a six-month suspended sentence this year for assaulting a motorist, but was not on the radar of French intelligence agencies. Indeed, he seemed more like a surly misfit — he beat his wife, until she threw him out — than a prospective terrorist.

The country’s top law enforcement official, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said Saturday: “The individual who committed this absolutely despicable, unspeakable crime was not known by the intelligence services, as he had not stood out over the past years — whether through court convictions or through his activity — for support of radical Islamist ideology.”

But Mr. Cazeneuve added: “It seems that he radicalized himself very quickly. In any case, these are the first elements that have come to light through the testimony of his acquaintances.”

It seems that Bouhlel was nothing like a model Muslim of any type, not moderate and certainly not radical. More of a petty criminal with a history of violence.

In Msaken, Tunisia, the attacker’s father, Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej Bouhlel, told Agence France-Presse on Friday night that his son had depression, but that he “had almost no links to religion,” and that “he didn’t pray, he didn’t fast, he drank alcohol, and even used drugs.

The elder Mr. Lahouaiej Bouhlel said of his son, “From 2002 to 2004, he had problems that caused a nervous breakdown.”

“He would become angry, and he shouted,” he said, adding, “He would break anything he saw in front of him.”

However, The Huffington Post quoted Rabab Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a sister of the attacker, as saying the brother “did not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, but he also did not pray and never entered a mosque in his life.” She added: “He was just not stable psychologically and mentally. His wife and her mother both complained about his violent behavior toward her.”

Regardless of the conflicting claims about some of his habits it sounds like his religious practice, or lack of,  is such that ISIS might execute him for it.

ISIS propagandists will know that ‘ISIS attack’ will get headlines and the contradictions won’t be noticed by most people.

Details from Nice

Details are becoming more clear in the aftermath of the attack by truck in Nice, France.

Summary (from BBC):

  • A lorry has ploughed through a crowd during Bastille Day celebrations in the southern French city of Nice
  • At least 84 people are dead, including 10 children
  • 202 were injured, 52 remain in critical condition, 25 are in intensive care
  • The driver of the lorry was shot dead by police
  • He has been identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, known to police for violence and petty theft

More on the attacker: Nice attack: Lorry driver confirmed as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

The driver of a lorry that killed 84 people in an attack in the French city of Nice has been confirmed as Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31.

Prosecutor Francois Molins said Bouhlel had driven the lorry 2km (1.2 miles) along the Promenade des Anglais and fired at police before being shot dead.

Mr Molins said no group had admitted carrying out the attack but that it bore the hallmarks of jihadist terrorism.

Bouhlel drove the 19-tonne lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day at about 22:45 local time (20:45 GMT). He fired at officers with a 7.65mm calibre automatic pistol when the vehicle was close to the Negresco hotel and continued for another 300m, where his vehicle was stopped near the Palais de la Mediterranee hotel and he was shot dead.

Also found in the lorry were an ammunition magazine, a fake pistol, a replica Kalashnikov rifle, a replica M16 rifle and a dummy grenade.

There was also a bicycle, empty pallets, documents and a mobile phone. Items were later seized from Bouhlel’s Nice home.

Bouhlel, a chauffeur and delivery man, was “totally unknown to intelligence services… and was never flagged for signs of radicalisation”, Mr Molins said.

Tunisian security sources said Bouhlel had been married with three children and came from the Tunisian town of Msaken. He visited Tunisia frequently, the last time eight months ago.

Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said the suspect had been given a suspended sentence in May following a confrontation with another driver but this was his only conviction.

Residents of his apartment building said he was a loner who did not respond when they said hello.

Bouhlel has caused many people extreme harm, he has generated terror in Nice, and whether he acted alone or not he has added to the fears of terror around the world, provoked shock, sadness and anger, and will cause millions of innocent people grief.

I hope that people in positions of state power don’t overreact and create a lot more innocent victims.

It should be remembered that so far only one person has been found to have been responsible for this atrocity in Nice.

UPDATE: Conflicting statements from French politicians.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls…

…says Nice attacker was one way or the other linked to radical Islamist circles.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told French TV…

“We have an individual who was not known to intelligence services for activities linked to radical Islam”.  Asked if he could confirm the attacker’s motives were linked to jihadism, he said: “No”.

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BBC’s Tunisia correspondent Rana Jawad caught up with Bouhlel’s father Monthir in Msaken:

“He took his treatment, his medicine, and we thought he was doing well – here’s the medical certificate. I took him to the psychologist, he followed his treatment but sometimes he would have nervous breakdowns and he would break everything and demolish everything. He has had a nervous problem and when he becomes nervous he breaks everything.  He had problems with his wife and I think that added to his mental health issues.”