The Finsbury Park attack (placeholder)

From Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFinsbury_Park_mosque_-_panoramio.jpg; Olof Lagerkvist [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last night, a reportedly-48 year old white man plowed into a crowd near the Finsbury Park mosque in London.  This is a mosque which, somewhat over a decade ago, was breeding terrorists, and was shut down, then later reopened “under new management” and, from all reports, claims the mantle of moderation.

Here’s the obligatory link to a relatively recent story on the incident:  from the BBC.  One person is dead (though apparently not necessarily as a result of the attack), and 10 injured.

After reading initial reports last night, I figured that this morning there would be more details.  There weren’t.  Reportedly, this is because of British law on criminal cases; according to a seemingly-credible statement on twitter, since he survived the attack and will stand trial, there are restrictions on what the British press may report, and on what details the British police may provide to the press.  Near as I can tell, they have not released his name, and I haven’t seen any indication of when this information will be coming.  (The BBC article gives his age, which suggests that this was released, but nothing more.)

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that this attack affirms her plans to increase internet regulation, with more government abilities to access information, e.g., as shared in What’s App texts, and with more censorship.  Newsweek reports that the attack “plays in ISIS’s hands.”  And on twitter there are demands that the news media devote as much figurative ink to this attack as to the prior attacks by Islamic extremists, and prove their even-handedness by labelling this as “terror” — a label which it seems to be should be reserved for acts which are organized by a specific group or are at least connected up with one, especially since everyone had seemed to settle on “hate crime” for attacks on minority groups vs. attacks on the general population.

So we don’t really know much, but it seems very out-of-character for a UKIP hooligan to turn to the suicide attack that’s the stock-in-trade of Islamicists.  And it does seem to have been a suicide attack.  That is, it’s widely known that London has CCTV cameras everywhere, so I assume that he knew that he wouldn’t be able to just disappear.  And the BBC reports a witness saying, “kill me, I’ve done my job”, which suggests that his expectation was some variation of suicide-by-cop.  Maybe more details will arise that suggest this isn’t the case, that he thought he would be able to drive away from the scene.

Now, none of this is good news.  Was he motivated by a general animus towards Muslims?  Had he had specific run-ins with Muslims?  Was he personally affected by the recent attacks?  Was he “radicalized” by anti-Muslim groups in the UK (which I doubt were any sort of pro-Christian group, since that country has now become so secular), in the same way as we’ve been tossing around ideas that the D.C. shooter was “radicalized” by anti-Trump politicians and Facebook groups?  Did he choose this mosque because of its past terror links, or because he believed those terror links to be ongoing, or because it just happened to be prominent?

I’ve labelled this post as a “placeholder” in the expectation that we’ll have more information to chew on over the course of the day.  But we may not, really, if the British legal system withholds his name.

 

Image from Wikipedia: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFinsbury_Park_mosque_-_panoramio.jpg; Olof Lagerkvist [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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