London

Finsbury Park Mosque: Rain 'saved us from arson attack'

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Media captionPolice are searching for the man who tried to set fire to Finsbury Park Mosque

A mosque that was targeted in a failed arson attempt was saved only because it was raining, its chairman believes.

CCTV footage showed a man trying to set fire to Finsbury Park Mosque at 20:25 GMT on Friday and fleeing on a moped.

A "gallon of fuel" was later found outside with some burnt paper, but "thankfully it did not catch light," chairman Mohammed Kozbar said.

Scotland Yard is treating the attack as an Islamophobic hate crime. No-one has been arrested.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police said the suspect was seen throwing a bag filled with petrol into the mosque compound in an attempt to set it on fire

The CCTV shows the suspect approaching the mosque with a bag containing a jerry can filled with petrol, police said.

He attempted to set this alight before hurling it into the mosque compound.

"Scorch marks were found on clothing wrapped around the jerry can. This was a clear and deliberate attempt to cause arson. Although the petrol did not fully ignite, the threat and intent was obvious and the resulting fire could quite easily have endangered anyone inside as well as those living nearby," Det Sgt Stuart Smillie said.

'Targeted previously'

Mr Kozbar said the mosque committee had received a letter in the past week informing them the building was under threat of an attack, but he did not know if it was related to the attack.

He said he first learned of the arson attempt, when he went to open the mosque at about 10:15 GMT on Saturday.

Image copyright Finsbury Park Mosque
Image caption A container filled with fuel was found outside the mosque following the failed arson
Image copyright Finsbury Park Mosque
Image caption A piece of singed paper was also found at the scene

"Our security found a gallon of fuel outside and some half-burned papers," continued Mr Kozbar.

"Thankfully, the floor was wet as it had been raining and the fuel did not catch light.

"It makes us feel angry at first and then vulnerable."

He said the mosque had been targeted before by arsonists but never on such a large scale.

A statement on the mosque's website reads: "Someone tried to burn the mosque by throwing a Molotov bottle... It did not explode and no one got hurt and no damage was done.

"We would like to assure our community in Islington that such crime has no place within our society and we are determined more than ever to promote community cohesion and harmony."

The Met Police has urged anyone with information about the arson attempt to come forward.

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