A man accused of driving a van into a crowd of Muslims near a London mosque received direct Twitter messages from British far-right figures Tommy Robinson and Jayda Fransen in the weeks leading up to the attack, a court has heard.
Darren Osborne, 48, from Cardiff, denies deliberately mowing down 51-year-old Makram Ali, who died from his injuries, and nine other people shortly after 12.15am on June 19 last year. He is charged with terrorism-related murder and attempted murder. The case is being heard at Woolwich Crown Court this week.
The court heard that Osborne became “obsessed” with Islam and the Rochdale grooming scandal after watching a BBC TV drama. He is said to have believed that all Muslims were rapists and belonged to pedophile gangs.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC revealed on Tuesday that Osborne had directly communicated with Britain First deputy leader Jayda Fransen through Twitter, according to the Independent. Rees said Osborne received a ‘direct message’ from Fransen on June 3, when he joined the social media platform. Later that day, the London Bridge terrorist attack occurred.
“Hot on the heels of receiving that message on Twitter from Jayda Fransen, there’s the London Bridge attack,” Rees said. In the hours after that attack, Osborne repeatedly searched for more information on Fransen, read her tweets, and looked for information on the killing of Christians in the Philippines.
The newspaper reported Osborne also received messages from Robinson, the far-right former English Defence League (EDL) leader, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon. Read to the court by Rees, Robinson’s first message was about the Manchester terrorist attack and said: “Dear Darren… What Salman Abedi did is not the beginning and it won’t be the end. There is a nation within a nation forming just beneath the surface of the UK… built on hatred, violence and Islam.”
The message alleged that Abedi’s local mosque had a Sharia court, hosted radical preachers and had not be closed down, adding: “Politicians have failed to take the necessary steps to keep us safe. It has now been left to us, the ordinary people of the UK, to step up and say ‘no more.’”
The message invited Osborne to join a silent protest march, at which Robinson’s message would be “impossible to ignore.”
The second direct Twitter message from Robinson came on June 14 and detailed the campaign for “justice” for a woman whose rapists were not prosecuted, the court heard.
“Dear Darren, we know about the terrible crimes committed against [name redacted] of Sunderland… police let the suspects go and why? It is because the suspects are refugees from Syria and Iraq, it’s a national outrage… I know you will be there for her and we will get her the justice she deserves.”
The court heard that Osborne conducted numerous internet searches for information on terror attacks, as well looking for evidence of Muslims allegedly celebrating a terror attack in London.
Search results included an article from Alex Jones’ far-right site Infowars titled “Proof Muslims celebrated terror attack in London.”
The trial continues.
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