London: Van Rams Worshipers Leaving a Mosque
Early on June 19 (local time), a van (see photo) plowed into a large crowd of worshipers leaving a mosque in north London, in an incident that is being investigated as a terrorist attack. One man was pronounced dead at the scene, although his death may not have been a result of the attack. Eight people were hospitalized, and two others were treated at the scene. Police say all of the victims were members of the Muslim community.
The driver of the van, a 48-year-old man, was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and subdued until police arrived. He has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said this was “an attack on Muslims near their place of worship.” She called the attack—the third terrorist attack in London since March—“every bit as sickening” as those that have come before. She commended the “bravery” of the local residents for detaining the driver at the scene, and said that “hatred and evil of this kind will never succeed.”
Teenage Muslim Girl Assaulted and Killed After Leaving a Mosque in Virginia
On June 18, police in Virginia found remains believed to be those of a missing 17-year-old Muslim girl—identified as Nabra Hassanen of Reston—who they say was assaulted and disappeared overnight after leaving a mosque. Darwin Martinez Torres, age 22, of Sterling, Virginia, has been charged with murder. Police have not yet determined whether this is a hate crime.
According to police and a mosque official, four or five teenagers were walking back from breakfast at a restaurant when they were confronted by a man in a vehicle. All but one of the teens ran back to the mosque, where they reported that the girl had been left behind. Mosque officials notified police in both Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, who initiated a search. The remains believed to be those of the missing girl were found in a pond in Sterling. An examination by the Medical Examiner’s Office will confirm the identity and determine the cause of death.
Congressional Shooting Illustrates Increased Potential for Politically Motivated Violence
The shooting of a US Congressman and four others at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 14 illustrates the increased potential for politically motivated violence, as individuals on the fringes of both ends of the political spectrum escalate from rhetoric to violence. While the deceased shooter at the baseball field—James Hodgkinson, age 66, of Belleville, Illinois—had expressed anger toward President Trump and other Republicans, an example on the other end of the spectrum occurred in December, when a North Carolina man with a rifle fired shots in a pizza restaurant in Washington, DC. He claimed that he was “self-investigating” a false conspiracy theory related to officials in Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.
In the aftermath of last week’s shooting, members of Congress are expressing concern for their security, particularly once they leave the Capitol building or when they hold events such as town hall meetings in their home districts. Members of Congress also say that as the political rhetoric grows more heated, they are receiving more threats, by e-mail and phone. On the day of the shooting, a Congresswoman from New York received an e-mail with a subject line reading: “One down, 216 to go . . .”—likely a reference to the 217 Republicans who voted for a recent health-care bill. In May, a Congressman from Texas, who is African-American, said that after he called for President Trump’s impeachment, his office received threatening phone calls, using racial epithets and saying he would be lynched.