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tv   United Shades of America  CNN  June 18, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT

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underlined by the brexit vote. and there is certainly an anti-immigrant party like the national party which is a fascist party as it exists in the united kingdom. and much of it is directed against immigrants. but frankly this is -- i think it is a terrorist attack against muslims coming out of a ramadan service. that's unusual. as we wake up tomorrow morning in the united kingdom, i think people will find this to be, you know, something that is not at all common. >> peter bergen, juliet, thank you. please stand by. >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we are following breaking news out of london right now where a van has hit a crowd of
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worshippers leaving a mosque. these are some pictures from the immediate aftermath. there are reportedly several casualties. at least one person is under arrest. a young woman who could see the scene from the window of her home tells us two people were lying on the ground and that a police officer was performing a cardiac massage on one of them. she also described people screaming and crying for help trying to get the attention of police and medics. another witness who was inside the mosque when this happened said she had no doubt muslims were targeted. but police have not confirmed that right now. the muslim council of britain did release the following statement, quote, we have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they were leaving simsbury park mosque. our prayers are with the victims. it is located off seven sisters road. officers were called to the
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scene. it is 3:00 a.m. there. this is a live picture of what is happening on the scene. there are lots of police officers lined up. there is an area cordoned off. i spoke earlier with hillary britta who witnessed the aftermath of the attack. listen. >> there is commotion. they are running. i can see everything from my window. i ran down to see what was happening. we all ran up to the mosque which is right next to the station. they were shouting that a car had collided with people who were exiting the mosque after prayers. there was a lot of commotion going on. there was a white van which had been around and shouting that the man was the person who had
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hit everybody. the police were pushing all of us back so i didn't get too much closer. everybody was being pushed back. someone saying this was an act of terror -- >> let me stop you just a minute, hillary. i'm having a little bit of a hard time hearing you. i want to make sure i understand what you just said. did you hear people shouting that they believed this was an act of terror? >> yes, but an act of white supremacist attack. people were shouting this is an act of terrorism even though he's white, these are the kind of comments people were yelling out. people saying -- we had people very agitated trying to get -- saying this is an act of terror.
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the police were -- they were saying we can't give you information at the moment and since people have been injured, we need to get everybody as far back as possible so we can get emergency services. they pushed the cordon back along the road. and -- it is just past my flat actually. i went inside my flat. the cordon, i have been watching things from the side. >> so, hillary, did you see the person who may have been involved in this incident, who may have been driving the vehicle? >> no. i've seen the vehicle and i saw a lot of people crowded around somebody, but i couldn't see him myself. there were a lot of people and the personal space, i didn't want to get too close, obviously you never know what can happen next. but i did see the van itself
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which is a white van outside the station, yes, a white van. >> i was in bed, really, and i just heard a lot of people shouting. so, i went by the window to see what was going on. and i saw loads of people gathering on the corner right in front of my window across the road from my apartment. and they were very nervous, shouting very loud, trying desperately to make some time -- a police car was a little further passing the road. there was traffic at the time. and in a matter of like seconds, the police cara riech arrived ar police cars arrived after that. i didn't see exactly what happened. i saw the moment when everybody was screaming and shouting and very, very nervous. >> do you know where all these people came from? were people just hanging out in the street?
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was there an event going on? >> no, what happened here, the community in north london is a very mixed community. it has people from many, many different countries, different cultures, and we all live perfectly fine. i never saw anything nowhere close to this happen at all. we have a church on one road, evangelic church on another corner and a mosque across the road as well. and everybody lives fine. we never had any problem at all in here. >> again, those were two witnesses who saw the aftermath and heard some of the screams of the people who were near the scene after that van plowed into cnn's international correspondent ian lee is on scene now and is joing us live. ian, what are you seeing, what are you learning? >> well, ana, right now there is
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just a heavy police presence around the mosque where this incident took place. a lot of emergency ambulances, fire trucks. when i was on my way here, i saw a number of ambulances and fire trucks racing here. when i got to the scene, there were a lot of people gathering here, a lot of local people trying to figure out what happened. i spoke with one eyewitness who described what he saw. he said he was just inches away from this attack. he said people in the mosque were finishing up prayers, which happens during ramadan. this is a prayer at night. people were leaving the mosque. he said that there were a group of people who were gathering around in front of it. he said that's when he saw a van come running in and hitting a number of the people. he said at least five people were hit from what he saw, and he said one person was on the ground and wasn't responsive
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after that van hit. now, it's unclear if the driver of the van tried to get out or if the people were able to pull him out of the van. but from what the eyewitness told me that locals were able to apprehend him very quickly. and this is a man, according to the eyewitness and were able to hand him over to police where he was then arrested. we also have heard that there could have been another person. we haven't been able to confirm that. our eyewitness said there could have been two people, but definitely the driver of this van was apprehended and handed over to the police. this is a mosque, we are told, in this neighborhood, it's not the largest one, but it's one that many people go to. families go to to pray, especially now during ramadan during the islamic holy month. people were gathering to pray and this van -- one thing interesting from what this eyewitness told me about this
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van is it didn't seem like he was trying to stop. it didn't seem like he was coming in and that this could have been some sort of accident. he said that he heard this van accelerate into this group of people. now, we haven't heard from the police what they believe was the motive behind this, but the people in this neighborhood are definitely saying that this is some sort of terrorist attack. but, again, we'll have to wait for the police to give us a definitive answer on that, ana. >> ian, obviously where you are, they have the area cordoned off. we see the police presence behind you. did you get a look at the van yourself? did it end up crashing into something that brought it to a stop, or any idea? >> we aren't able to see the van. we are pretty far away from where this incident took place. the police have a pretty wide cordon around this mosque. when i was talking to the eyewitness, it didn't seem like this van hit something.
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he said it came to a stop, and that's when they were able to apprehend the driver. so, there's a little confusion exactly what the driver was doing at the time. was he trying to leave? was he staying in the van? they were able to pull him out, but right now, you know, a lot of people gathering here, this is a community mosque. this is a mosque where a lot of people in this neighborhood come and pray. these are people that they know. so, this definitely having effect on this local community. >> no doubt about it. we are looking at the live images. it's a little after 3:00 in the morning in london and there are dozens if ng more thot more tha the streets. curious, trying to get answers about what happened there in the wee hours of the morning. phil black is on the scene and joining us. as we come to you and looking, i see we have new information from the london metropolitan police saying it is too early to say if this collision is, indeed, a
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terror incident and they do confirm they have one person in custo custody, adding they believe this person they have in custody is the driver of that van. what are you hearing from people on the ground there? >> the way we are standing, from where ian was, we are some distance where the van came to a stop. myself and colleagues have been speaking to people who said they witnessed the event, i'm told. and they talk about seeing the van drive into people. when it did come to a stop, it was locals, people by standing, that could be the person police are talking about having in custody at this time. some of the witnesses -- and this is where it gets a little less clear -- talking about there being more than one person
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in the vehicle. i've heard from a couple people that may be the case. whether they have confirmed it, they are holding one person. it is too early to say what the motivation ask specifically -- it's too early to say if it is terror related or otherwise. >> okay, phil, we're having a hard time with your audio. obviously in a breaking news situation sometimes we aren't able to get all of that sorted first. i want to come back to you. we'll go to ian lee who is on the scene there and, again, reiterating the most recent information that we are just getting, a met police telling cnn it's too early to say if the london collision is terror and they have one person in custody who they believe was the driver of the van involved in this incident. ian, we're seeing so many people there. set the scene a little more for us about who is out there, are these people who were witnesses? are they looky loos, are they
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people from the mosque? what more can you tell us about the area? >> it's a mix of people really. i was able to spe to a number of them. a lot of the people were just locals. there's a number of mosques in this area. so, when they heard about this incident, many people came from those mosques to see what was going on and there were a few people who were lingering around who were at the scene when it happened. one man that i spoke with who was an eyewitness was escorted from behind the police cordon back outside. he said that he gave police his statement and then talking to him, we were able to get an idea of what happened. he told us that this van careened into a crowd of people after a worship. and talking to this man, he said this is a family mosque. this is a neighborhood mosque. people from around here go and
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pray, especially now during ramadan. there is the week of prayer which happens between around 11:00 and midnight local time. they were just getting out of that prayer when this incident happened. and the people who were gathering around, a lot of people just wanting to know exactly what happened. this is a city that has experienced a number of incidents, a number of terrorist attacks. people are very much concerned and so they want to know what happened. and talking to the people -- now, we heard -- what we heard from the police is that they're not yet calling this a terrorist attack. but when you listen to what the people are saying around at this police cordon, they believe this man deliberately ran into this youd crowd of muslims. that is a terror attack like what we saw on london bridge. right now the people over there were quite agitated. there were some pieople who wer angry because this happened.
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but for the most part, everyone remained calm, just trying to figure out, ana, what exactly happened. >> exactly. and cnn global affairs analyst david rhode is joining us on the telephone. police aren't sure if this is a terror attack, they have one person in custody. presumably they are interviewing this person right now and they believe this is the driver of the vehicle they are talking to. you say this is exactly what isis wants. >> again, we don't know what happened, but if this was some sort of retaliatory attack on muslims, they do want to sow division. they do want people of different faiths, christians frankly versus muslims carrying out these kind of attacks. it's a step backwards. i mean, whoever carried this out thinks he's going to somehow, you know, slow this down or this is going to cause radical muslims to stop their attacks,
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it's not. this kind of violence will just sort of feed further violence. so, it's not clear, again, but it's really disturbing if this is what it appears to be. >> david, stand by. i want to bring back the senior editor at the islamic monthly. arsalan, we are learning from police they are not calling this a terror incident. they say it is too early to say for sure. they have one person in custody they believe was the driver of the vehicle. what do you make of this? >> well, ana, i think it is important for your viewers to keep in mind that this is not an isolated incident. we started to see an uptick in attacks against muslims all across the west a few months ago in quebec city, quebec. there was a murder at a mosque while they were praying. juliet said earlier, someone walking into the a.m. e. church
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in south carolina. people sitting in bible study for an hour, then summarily executinge africa americans. mirities in houses of worship are starting to get attacked even more in the west. it is important to look at it in this holistic totality and not just as an isolated incident. >> yes, peter bergen, what do you think about if this indeed is an attack on muslims and this idea that isis is trying to create a them against us narrative to fuel their viewpoint, their fire of sorts? does this play into that for them? >> yeah, i mean, i think so. i mean, osama bin laudin was in a civilization in which the west was at war with muslims. it would be a war that muslims would inevitably win, and certainly that is the isis
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narrative. so, yes, if this attack appears to be what it looks like which is a terrorist attack directed at muslims, you know, it certainly suits the militants on both sides of this, that tensions are kind of rising and -- but, you know, of course that narrative isn't going to produce the results that militants on both sides really want. i mean, there is no cosmic war between islam and the west. the kinds of attacks that we've seen in london and elsewhere haven't produced some kind of civilization or war between islam and the west, which is what isis wants. and the british have a long history with terrorism and they tend to have a -- keep calm and carry on kind of philosophy. but i would add a caveat to
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that, which is you know, things can change if there appears to be a campaign of attac on both sides. certainly that produces more uncertainty in the british population. and when the british population wakes up tomorrow morning and finds out about this attack, i think, you know, it's going to be very disturbing. and i will add that, you know, it is 3:15 in the morning in london right now. and it is a sunday night. and, so, the fact that the metropolitan police haven't necessarily come to some kind of quick conclusion isn't necessarily surprising for two reasons. one, it's late at night. and, two, the british police and law enforcement are notoriously careful about statements of fact. they are very averse to leaking, as we've known, a great deal of
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irritation among british law enforcement and british politicians about the leaks that were coming out about the attack coming out of the united states. so, they are very careful about what they say publicly. and the fact that they have said that they don't as yet know the motivation, i don't really take that as necessarily meaning anything because the investigation is late at night, and this is a group of people who are very, very careful about what they say publicly. >> we are looking at live pictures right now, split screen from different vantage points on the scene. this is, again, in north london in simsbury park near the area where this collision happen, a van hitting pedestrians a little after midnight local time. of course now it's been about three hours that have passed since this incident took place. people are filling the streets looking for answers and trying to understand exactly what
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happened there tonight after a prayer service at the local mosque in this neighborhood. juliet has been with us from the beginning since this story broke. juliet, again, it's been three hours. the latest word from london metropolitan police is that it's too earlyo say if the london coision is a terror incident. ey do believe they have the driver of the vehicle in custody currently. does it surprise you we don't have more definitive answers? >> no, i mean, we don't know if he's speaking or not. we don't know if the person they have in custody may be known to them, may be known to the mosque. there is a series of questions that they will be asking him. we don't know if he's actually speaking. so, there's all sorts of questions about how the investigation is unfolding and so waiting on the definitive statement about motivation is well worth the wait because they need to get this right. this is one of those situations where saying something that later proves incorrect or can't
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be proven in a court of law becomes an embarrassment. it actually can harm people and it can harm populations. just to give you a sense of what london may be dealing with now if this is a targeted attack against the muslim community. there are over 2 million muslims in the u.k., and 1500 mosques. so, you think about soft targets. 1500 of them, in the middle of ramadan or end of ramadan, it ends i believe on saturday, six days from today. so, that is a lot of protecting that will need to be done. so, we will wait to see what the definitive statement is. i think what we do know now, though, is that the muslim population in london will feel threatened by this. they need to be able to observe their faith with freedom, especially during ramadan. and, so, it's incumbent on the
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mayor of london and the public safety apparatus to ensure that kind of security not for all the families that visit the mosque daily during ramadan, and that has got to be of primary importance now for a city that is as diverse as it is, for a mayor who is muslim and in a country that has suffered a lot, let's say, in the last six weeks. >> no doubt about it. they have endured so much. our hearts just go out to them, dealing with all this adversity right now. a short time ago i spoke with a woman who says she was praying inside the mosque when this van struck a group of pedestrians outside the muslim house of worship. rayan describes what she saw and what she heard when she walked outside the mosque to find out what was going on. take a listen. >> basically we were praying in mosque and then when we finished, everyone was leaving.
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i stayed behind to talk to someone. after that i heard some people shouting, screaming. so, i went outside to see what's going on. people were saying, go inside, go inside, it's not safe. then obviously i didn't listen. and then i kept talking and then the crime scene, i saw some people laying down and badly injured. one of them i believe was dead. and then police moved us, yeah, that's it. that's what happened. and also someone was arrested. i believe it was the criminal. >> now, a friend of yours was with someone was hit, we understand? >> sorry? >> i'm being told that a friend of yours was with somebody who was hit by this van? >> oh, yeah, my friend, my friend, her brother was injured. i couldn't talk to her because police moved me.
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people who were injured?t those were they all people from the mosque? >> yes, they're all of them from mosque when they were leaving. >> did you see how many people were on the ground and may have been injured? >> well, well, at that time there were four people, and one of them i believe was dead. the rest were badly injured. >> again, that was rayan, a witness describing the scene of this incident in london shortly after a vehicle plowed into pedestrians. we are now learning it is believed they were worshippers at the mosque in this area. muslim council of britain has also tweeted saying, quote, we have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left simsbury park mosque. our prayers are with the victims. and, again, the latest information from the met police saying it's still too early to say if the london collision is a
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terror incident, and that one person is in custody. the spokesman telling us police believe it was the driver of the vehicle. the vehicle described as a white van. ian lee, the witnesses he was talking to on scene tonight are telling him it looked like the van was accelerating as it hit those people, and that the person inside the van, it's unknown if he was pulled out, but according to the witnesses that we have been talking to, they describe some of the people who had gathered in a crowd as pushing that individual toward police as police arrived on scene and police then put that person in their vehicle. we know very little other than that. a male individual who they put in their police car. cnn international correspondent ian lee is now joining us again live from the scene. and we see a lot of people on their cell phones, ian. obviously there is a major push for answers tonight. >> that's right, ana.
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just a little while ago, we had people over here, muslims from the community who performed a prayer. this is a community who does want answers tonight, a lot o people gathered here trying to find out from the police. so far not a lot of information is coming out. what we are hearing is coming from these eyewitnesses. and one man i spoke with was just, as he described, inches away from this van when it hit a group of people. this is a group of people that was just finishing up prayers which they perform at night during ramadan, late night prayer. people were leaving the mosque gathering around. that's when he saw in van come careening in and hitting the people. and he said it didn't look like he was trying to stop. it looked like he was trying to accelerate into this crowd. he said a number of people he saw, at least five were hit by this van. one person was immobilized, was not responsive to people trying
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to help him. also saying that the driver of the van was apprehended. and it's -- we're unsure if he was pulled from the advantage or if he tried to escape and run away, but the locals were able to apprehend him and hand him over to the police, which is, ana, quite crucial. then the police can interrogate him to find out exactly what happened. when we've seen attacks in the past, usually the suspects are killed so the police won't be able to question them. so, this is going to be crucial to figure out exactly the motive behind this and why this person did it. what we're hearing, it was a man who was behind the wheel. and we saw a lot of emergency personnel, a lot of vehicles coming in and out, possibly ferrying people to a hospital for treatment. but right now definitely, ana, as you said, this is a community trying to seek answers about why this happened. >> and now, of course, this is a time, too, where the london area
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has been under attack in recent weeks in the u.k. there were three terror attacks leading up to this in just three months' time. again, police in this incident not calling it a terror attack, not going there yet. saying it's still too early to say, but they do say they believe it is worshippers coming out of a mosque and those were the people who were hit. we have a new statement i want to read from the telmana organization. the project will provide a means for such incidents to be reported, recorded and analyzed, working to ensure this data is accurate and reliable and the victims and witnesses affected receive support. this project also works with police forces across england, wales, and scotland in order to insure access to justice for perpetrators. antimuslim hate, a public
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service which measures anti-muslim incidents. it is not meant to be a replacement for emergency police service and call 999. so, right now we are seeing a community, again, trying to make sense of exactly what is happening in london tonight. and it appears to me, ian, the streets are only getting more and more full of people who are coming to the scene. are police interacting with any of the folks on scene, or are they simply just standing there stoically? >> standing there stoically, ana. i tried to speak to a couple of them. they say they don't know anything. i don't know if you can, there are vehicles blocking the road. earlier there was a police -- cordoned police officers. there were several roads leading to the site of this incident. you saw the same thing, heavy police presence here, but none of the police talking to the people. and you do have residents here,
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ana, whoo want to have information. i saw one instanc a little while ago where someone got heated because he wanted to know what happened. someone that he knew was at that mosque at the time, unsure what the status of that person is. but this is a community who does want to know. and over the course of the night -- i've been here for over an hour now. i've seen more and more people come to try to figure out what exactly happened. and while the police are very cautious to say, they are not yet calling this a terrorist attack. when you talk to the people here, they say, you know, this is very similar to what happened on london bridge, and that was called a terrorist attack. they say this isn't any different. a man drove a van into a group of people from what the eyewitness said, it looked like it was deliberate. so, they are saying that they believe that this is a terrorist attack. >> all right. ian lee, stand by. i want to read that statement
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again from anti-islam charity. this is their statement. on friday, we were at the muslim welfare house making the case for people to report in anti-muslim hate. we know this area well and it is a mixed area and the mwh caters for the poorest in society. at the mosque we were making clear that reporting in anti-muslim hate is key to tackling anti-muslim hate and sending out a message that it is not acceptable. again, that statement was from the anti-islamophobe i can't charity. i want to bring in someone via skype. i know, dean, this is an incident touching you personally since you are muslim and we talked about the incidents of hate crimes on the rise. we don't know exactly what this is yet. police are saying too early this is a terrorivent and they
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are working, continuing their investigation. they do have somebody in custody who they believe was the driver of the vehicle who plowed into the pedestrians tonight and people on the scene telling us the pedestrians were people coming from the mosque there, celebrating ramadan prayer. what is your reaction? >> well, it's certainly heart breaking. you have people going to their places of worship. christians would go on chris ma -- christmas. jews would go on heigh holy days. they're targeted for their faith. you hope it's just an accident. we've seen terror attacks in the u.k. we've seen anti-muslim rhetoric going on in the u.k. we even had president trump attack the mayor of london who is muslim. here back at home, this week alone we had a man, robert doggert, sentenced to nine years, 20 months in prison for
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plotting to kill muslims in upstate new york. very little mainstream media coverage. a man was sentenced to 30 years to life. why? for plotting to kill muslims in america. in canada in january, a man walks into a mosque and kills six people. i hope it's not an act of terror attack. i would not be surprised at all looking at the rhetoric, anti-muslim rhetoric, the plot here to slaughter muslims. i hope the media here will cover it more. guard against all threats. >> you talked about the media's role in raising awareness of these situations. what else can we as a society, do, do you think, to deescalate the animosity and try to better understand each other? >> well, i think frankly the good job in what they do. they repted the story. i think you have sensational
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voices on certain media outlets on the right in america that jetta fear of muslims. you see it on fox news, on breitbart demon idolizizing mus. you have people in the white house like steve bannon, sebastian gorka. michael flynn who was no longer on the administration, people for acts of america. mike pompeo got an award from acts of america. you have a direct line from the white house for anti-muslim bigotry. i hope as a nation we can take a step back and stop over sensationalizing hate. we saw a horrific attack on members of congress. other members of congress could have been hurt. it's part and parcel the same thing. genning up fear, the worst way possible to violence.
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i'm concerned. >> dean, stand by with me. i want to go back to phil black, cnn international correspondent on the scene there in london right now. he's joining us via phone. we are watching the live images, phil. looks like a london police officer just went out and spoke with a crowd. we saw the crowd kind of gather around and he went back behind this area that's cordoned off. do you know what was going on? >> not precisely i don't know. the crowd, you can imagine, is a little agitated. there is a mix of people here. these are people who are in or around the mosque, or other locals who have come out to get a sense of what's going on, having seen all the commotion. as i say, quite agitated here, i think it is fair to say. i can give you a little context, if you like, about this particular mosque in this particular muslim community in simsbury park in north london. it was for a time notorious. you're going back ten years or so now when this particular mosque was known as something of
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a -- it had a real link to extremist views. and more than that, there was a particular cleric based here hamsa who was prosecuted here in the united kingdom. also i believe sent to the united states for trial there as well because of his role in preaching hate and promoting violent acts. i say that was some ten years ago that that particular man was finally arrested and put on trial and so forth. put on trial here first, i think and the u.s. second. since then it has come under new management. and i know that it has gone out of its way over the years to really clean itself out, clean up its act and work very hard at becoming a healthy active member of the community. and there has been no issues for a very, very long time now. but i know i have read over the years british media reports from people at the mosque talking about how they had been the victims of hate mail and threat.
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they have also been targeted by extreme right wing protest groups, antiislam groups and so forth. i think i read at one point about someone's head being delivered to the mosque or being left at the mosque. there has been this concern within the community, this concern within the mosque itself, particularly over the years as it has worked to try and reset its reputation, to try and shed that reputation for extremism, for sense of contributing, if you like, to extremist thought, ideology, and indeed perhaps violent acts themselves. the community here has been concerned. but they say working very hard to try and get past all of that. now, we don't know if this was that sort of attack, an anti-islamic attack, some sort of reprizal attack. we don't know that yet. the police aren't saying that yet. as you recorded, it's too early
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tosay. motive athis stage.g about but if that is what it turns out to be, then that will no doubt be extremely disappointing, extremely concerning to the authorities and to the broader people of london because as the city has progressed and as we've seen several terror attacks now in london, in addition to the terrible one in manchester at the ariana grande concert, as these events have taken place, the british people themselves, particular londoners are going out of their way to stress unity, to stress the fact that this is a mixing part of the city where people get along and they are famously tolerant and people are allowed to express their faith and so forth. indeed, stress the fact london is accountable for the violent acts taking place in the country in recent months. now, again, i stress, we don't know what the motivation behind this was. the authorities themselves are still not saying specifically
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whether they believe this was deliberate or not, but this particular mosque, it was notorious for a time for more than ten years now, it has been really come under new management, very much going out of its way to clean up its act and become a healthy functioning member of the london community. and it has over the years complained about receiving threats and hate messages and has been targeted for protest by antiislamists and so forth. that's the context for the area where we are now standing in north london tonight. the context of this particular muslim community, you wouldn't describe it as its recent history, certainly not the extremist element, that aspect to it. more reecently, as i say, this s a community working very hard, so the people managing the mosque say, to shed that reputation that it had for a time. and it's rare tonight, according to witnesses they say, the van drove through people and
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bystanders rushed in and held someone which we now believe is the person that is currently in police custody. >> that is according to police. they say thelieve the driver of the vehicle is who they have in custody. when you talked about emotions there on the ground there, phil, it's understandable. people are emotional after such a traumatic event. you mentioned that it seemed that the crowd was getting agitated. why? is it because they're worried? are they angry? give us a better sense of what the feeling is. >> i think that if this does turnout to be -- yes, they were deliberately targeted. if that turns out to be the case, that's their concern. that's what they would be worried about. that sort of hate and intolerance, that would be a real blow to this community, a real blow to london more broadly. as i say, this is a city that's worked very hard to maintain a sense of unity and inclusion in the face of the violent acts that has sought to divide the
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city and divide communities. so people here are worried. people watched things unfold. they are a little emotional, agitated having seen this happen tonight. and as people here talk and exchange stories, they are concerned about what this could mean for them, for their community, for london more broadly, ana. >> i want to bring back cnn's national security analyst peter bergen who is with us on the phone. peter, you and phil black have talked about the past history of this particular mosque in the neighborhood where all this happened off seven sisters road in the north of central london area, simsbury park area, and this mosque believed to be the park mosque, specifically known to have connections to terrorism, a place where militants in the past have been known to visit. how does a mosque like that with such a reputation turn things around to breakthrough, to show
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that it's mainstream and that it has a healthy religious identity? >> well, you know, i visited the mosque when it was run by the onserving a life sentence in an american prison. he was somebody who attracted young militants in london, including people like the so-called shoe bomber who tried to bring down an american airlines flight between paris and miami shortly after 9/11. he was misidentified as a potential high jacker and others. and he is part of this mosque several years before 9/11, several years after 9/11. basically after the attacks in london on july 7, 2005, due to british commuters on the run and transportation system, the english government crackdown on
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persons like him. he went into the british, he was in british court for exciting racial hatred. he was extradited to the united states and charged with terror in the united states and serving a life sentence. this was a long time ago now relatively speaking. he was in charge of the mosque until 2003. but the reason i think this is relevant is if indeed this was an act of terrorism, this is a mosque that would be pretty symbolic to somebody who had this intent because of its connections to militants. the mosque has turned itself around, is under new management, and that's all fair enough. but in an effort to try and understand the motivations of the attacker, i think this history might be relevant if, indeed, there was a political
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intent here. >> this is interesting because we just got a tweet now from the london mayor who is not calling this anything more than a major incident. here's what he tweeted. emergency services are on the scene and investigating a major incident at simsbury park. follow met police, u.k., london police fordetails, he writes. so, people being very cautious, officials on the ground being cautious about how they are characterizing what happened. juliet, when you hear that tweet from the mayor, you and i were speaking earlier. it was interesting he hadn't said anything. officials were being so hush-hush. what do you think this is all about? he doesn't even bring up anything about religion and muslims and the mosque in this tweet. >> right. so, this is -- sorry. this is the gap between social media, eyewitness accounts, and a public statement. if you look on social media now, certainly what we heard from your eyewitness accounts, even
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from the reporting, there is a narrative this was a targeted attack, muslims leaving the mosque on ramadan. proving that right now will take "a little bit longer." so, what happens in a situation, having been in the room in government when there is all this information coming out and you just don't know what's true or not, is basically the mayor of the metropolitan police has put down a marker to say they are aware of what has happened. they are saving lives. that is the most important thing right now. and then a motive will come later. presumably they are doing interviews right now of the man who would tell what his motivation was, and what he intended to do, and why he was there at that time, and whether he was known to police or to the mosque itself, to members of the mosque itself. that may take a few hours. so, i'm not at all -- i'm not at
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all concerned about that gap. in other words, you're going to hear firsthand accounts. you're going to see on twitter lots of statements being made. those have not been validated by law enforcement yet. it doesn't mean they're not true. it just means that we do hold law enforcement and our mayor to a higher standard than people on twter or eyewitness accounts. so, we will, as i often say, unfortunately we do have too many weekends, nights lately, time sometimes is not on our side when we want to get the information quickly, but we do have to have some patience. it will be morning soon in london. i anticipate they will need a narrative for people getting on a subway going to work, leaving their families. and ramadan is still one more week away. i believe it ends on saturday night. they have over a thousand mosques in britain.
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they need to assure the community that they are safe and that all has to happen relatively quickly. >> i want to bring in dean again. and, dean, the latest information now, the london mayor saying emergency services are on the scene and investigating a major incident at simsbury park. follow the metropolitan police and the london ambulance for details, and the police and the ambulance are getting very few details. only saying there are a number of casualties after a van hit pedestrians in this area. in fact, the london metropolitan police saying it's too early to say if the london collision is a terror incident and that they have one person in custody. and say they believe it was the driver of that vehicle, but we have also been speaking to witnesses and people on the ground there feel very strongly that muslims were targeted by the person who was driving this van. there is a heightened emotion in that area as we heard from phil black.
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how do they -- how would you say is the best way for them to channel this energy and emotion that they're feeling? >> i think the biggest thing is to wait and let's find out the facts. if you look at social media right now, they are telling everybody what happened. they are making conclusions. they may be right, they may be wrong in the long run. but it is certainly genning up fear. it's irresponsible. but that's what twitter is about. you even have people on the right in the u.k. like tommy robertson, a horrible guy on the right out there, literally blaming muslims for this attack, saying this is sort of what they get. you see this back and forth. i'm sure in america, you see people in the media, on twitter, you're going to see some scary words. i'll be honest with you. the muslim community in the u.k. after the manchester attack, very publicly made it clear they denounce terrorism. did whatever they could to stand unified with their fellow u.k.
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citizens to say we're all in this together. you have the mayor of london who is a muslim. it says so much about the people of london they elected the first major city in the west they have a muslim mayor is in london. so, the people there are good people. too often i think, even myself, are fixated on the extreme voices. that doesn't define the people there and hope the muslim community there e enbracing tolerance and you see on twitter, they will never call a white man a terrorist, that's a theme we hear a lot. let's see what happens. if this man is a terrorist, the mayor of london and they will deem it a terrorist attack. turns out it was an accident or man mentally ill, so be it. let's see how it plays out. >> given muslims were involved in this incident in that these were people leaving a mosque according to the muslim counsel
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of britain that tweeted out we have been informed that a van has run over worshippers as they left the mosque. our prayers are with the victims. does it surprise you that the london mayor didn't mention anything about islam or must lu limbs in the statement? >> we're seeing an elected official that is responsible. we have gotten used to something different in america, but i think there was a time you saw people like the mayor, he's going to wait. no reason for him to jump to conclusions. it would be ir respon spowould y it was one thing or the other. i hope the law enforcement in the u.k. will change it to something involved in isis-inspired attack. investigate not only terrorist, his family, friends, make arrests to anybody involved. if there are cells involved, right-wing terrorists in the
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u.k., arrest them, crack down them if it turns out to be a terrorist act. not saying it is. that makes them, the muslim community there and the rest around feel like we have the same standard. if you're a muslim and you commit a terror attack you'll be treated this way and if you're not a muslim, you will be treated the same way, investigation it will go where it's going to go. >> police and the people of london searching for answers pursuing that information into exactly what happened this evening. it happened just after midnight where we have learned that a car or van plowed into pedestrians according to police that were leaving a place of worship in the area, a mosque where they were having prayers during this month of ramadan. this is happening on seven sisters road north of central london. reports of a vehicle in
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coalition with pedestrians is the first tweet police put out and went to the scene with other march s emergency services. there are a number of casualties and that one person is arrested and most recent information we're getting from them is they are still saying it's too early to say if the london collision is a terror incident. it's been almost four hours since this incident first unfolded. ian lee is joining us again from the scene and ian, whatthe is update from there? >> repter:ne thing that we've heard from now multiple witnesses is that they believe that there could have been other people in that van. one witness said that he believes that there was at least one more person, another witness saying that there could have been at least two more people so if that is the case, definitely the police will be trying to look for anyone else that could be connected to this attack or
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this incident, rather and when they interview, when they interrogate the driver, they will hopefully be able to get that information out of them to get a better picture of what exactly happened. it's been about three hours now since the incident took place. you can still see people are gathering here, people still wanting to get answers about what exactly happened tonight and from witnesses, what they are telling us is this van kareemed into a group of people who had just left a mosque after prayer. this van accelerating into that crowd a number of people hit. at least one person according to the witness was unresponsive. and then they were able to get the driver and apprehend him. don't know if they pulled him from the van or if he tried to run away from the scene of the incident but one witness said that people grabbed him, there was -- they roughed him up a bit but then people calmed down.
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they then moved him away from the scene and then were able to hand him over to police, and that is, again, very crucial because in incidents like this in the past and terrorist attacks in the past, they haven't been able to apprehend the suspects because they are killed in the incident. this is kruis crucial to figure what happened. as you can see, still 3:00, 4:00 in the morning here. people around still wanting to find out what happened. this was a mosque that lot of people here attended. people knew people who were at the mosque at the time. they just want answers at this point, anna. >> ian lee, stand by. cnn international correspondent phil black is at the scene joining us by the phone. phil, what is the mood of the crowd where you are? >> reporter: well, i can move the camera here and show you. you can see the police line behind me. we're a short distance down the road from where we believe this incident took place. we moved the camera this way
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now. you get a sense of the crowd that is here waiting to find out precisely what is going on. some of these people we understand were in the immediate area. we spoke to people that witnessed the vehicle hit those people. they saw the crowd of bystanders move up and actually apprehend at least one person who they say was the driver of the vehicle there. and as you know, that was some hours ago. since then, they have been here. they have been talking. they have been swapping stories what they believe they saw and so forth. there is a somewhat agitated mood here because there is a feeling, their community, their mosque was targeted directly. that's the feeling they are talking about here tonight. we haven't heard from the police precisely what the motivation for this was. they are not going into that just yet. but we know that's how some people here definitely feel and we know over the years, the mosque managers talked about
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voo receiving hate hail and threats and anti islam protests. we know according to the mosque and the people who run it, they feel they have come under the pressure before and of course, here in the u.k. at the moment, well, things are a little tense. things are a little nervous. we've seen violence terrorist attacks, two in london and one in manchester. officials, particularly the london mayor, london's first muslim mayor, he has been going out of their way to stress tha will not be brought undone but any sort of act of violence for whatever reason. so if this does turn out to be a form of reprisal attack and the authorities aren't saying that but if it does and the description, if it proves to be deliberate would indicate that, that would be enormously
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concerning not just to the people of this community who will feel specifically targeted but of course, the people of london in the u.k. because this really isn't what they want. they do not want to see this sort of response to individual acts of violence. >> disturbing regardless. phil black, are you hearing accounts from witnesses there could have been more than one individual involved? >> yeah, we've heard that from a couple people, yes. so some people think there may have been a second person. they know there is one person. they say bystanders grabbed and held until the police arrived and the police confirmed one person in custody. there is talk but that hasn't
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been confirmed by the police yet. >> we see that there is a large police presence on scene and they are just standing behind that line cordening off the area. do you know what their purpose is? are they trying to protect the area for evidence collection or what more can you tell us what is happening behind you? >>. >> reporter: pretty standard procedure whenever there is a significant incident, they set up a perimeter at some distance. behind that perimeter and police officers and behind the van up the road, that is where officers will be speaking to witnesses and get forensic evidence where the actual investigation will be taking place as police attempt to build a picture of precise picture of just what happened here tonight and why. we've seen people being let out past this line ever so often so i don't know if these are just people that have to be stranded
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up in that area between the police lines or if these are people authorities speaking to but the real police work is taking place a short distance up the road from where we are now. >> phil black reporting live in london. you've been watching cnn's coverage of the breaking coverage, a van striking a crowd of pedestrians causing a number of casualties. our live coverage continues now with rosemary church. thanks for being with us. have a great night. hello and welcome. we're continuing breaking news coverage of an incident in north london. here is what we know at this time. a vehicle hit pedestrians on seven sisters road. auth


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