Imam wanted to stop 'cowardly response' to Finsbury Park terror attack

The imam hailed a hero for his response to the Finsbury Park van terror has told ITV News he acted to prevent a "cowardly reaction" to the "cowardly attack" as he described arriving to the scene of horror.

Mohammed Mahmoud also said Muslim communities justifiably still fear unjust reprisals for the crimes of Islamic extremists, seven months on from Darren Osborne's attack close to the Muslim Welfare Mosque in north London.

"The first thing I saw was bodies scattered around the place before I even noticed Darren Osborne," Mr Mahmoud said.

"He was restrained with his face down to the pavement."

Osborne, now 48, drove into a group of worshippers who were helping 51-year-old Makram Ali when he collapsed during a break from prayer in the early hours of 19 June last year.

Mr Mahmoud said he "noticed Makram Ali receiving CPR" in the aftermath of the attack but turned his focus to the group who had set upon Osborne.

"We stepped in to prevent any further injury, any further harm that's unnecessary, and to make sure that he answers for his crime," he said.

"Nobody directed any of their anger or frustration at me - maybe some disapproval, but that's just in the fit of rage and anger."

He added: "A person's judgement is impaired and they're blinded by anger."

Mr Mahmoud said his reaction to protect Osborne was a "natural ... normal response, to not reciprocate his cowardly attack with a cowardly reaction".

But he said praise directed at him in the hours and days that followed was misdirected.

"I don't believe for a moment or even think for a moment that I'm a hero," he said.

"The heroes are those who have to live with the lasting pain and effect of the attack."

Osborne crashed the van into people outside a mosque. Credit: PA

Osborne had told people in a Cardiff pub the day before he would "kill Muslims".

His macabre boast came after a period of rapid radicalisation intensified by the terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists in Manchester and London Bridge, which led to calls for Muslim communities to do more to help root out potential attackers.

Mr Mahmoud said Osborne's attack, which claimed Mr Ali's life and left nine others injured, proved Muslims' fears of unjust reprisals "for the crimes of others" were justified.

"It proved that their fears were not irrational," he said. "That they were justified in feeling how they felt and of course many people still feel the same way.

"He sought to terrorise one specific community and to further his political agenda and that is the very definition of a terrorist act."