Finsbury Park Mosque, which has a history of links to terrorism worldwide, has tried in recent years to change its image to the outside world under new management.

The mosque, which is housed in a five-storey building next to Finsbury Park tube station in the London borough of Islington in north London, was opened in 1994 in a ceremony attended by Prince Charles.

The mosque became notorious when Abu Hamza al-Masri became the imam in 1997.

Hamza, who had one eye and no hands and used hook devices, lied that the injuries were suffered when he fought for al-Qaeda against Russian forces in Afghanistan.


He preached a strict interpretation of Islamic law and was outspoken about acts of terrorism.

In a sermon he spoke about the need for Jihad: "Allah likes those who believe in Him who kill those who do not believe in Him. Allah likes that. So if you Muslims don't like that because you hate the blood, there is something wrong with you."

The mosque became a meeting point for militant Islam's most notorious figures. Zacarias Moussaoui, 9/11's alleged 20th hijacker, and shoe bomber Richard Reid, were among those to attend the mosque.

Hazam was suspended from Finsbury Park Mosque in April 2002 and sacked in February 2003 by the Charity Commission, a government body that regulates charities in England and Wales.

More than 100 officers from London Metropolitan Police raided and shut down the mosque in 2003 over the alleged bioterrorism plot to attack the London Underground rail system.

Hamza continued to preach his particular Islamist rhetoric outside the mosque until he was arrested in 2004 by police on charges of acts of terrorism. The terrorism charges were dropped but Hamza was kept in jail as US authorities sought his extradition.

Hazam was then charged by UK authorities with 15 various offences, including encouraging the killing of non-Muslims, and intent to incite racial hatred. He was found guilty of 11 charges in February 2006 and jailed for seven years.

After a lengthy extradition battle, Hamza was found guilty in New York in May 2014 of conspiring in a deadly kidnapping of 16 Western tourists in Yemen in 1998, trying to set up an al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon and aiding al-Qaeda. Hamza, a former strip club bouncer, also revealed his injuries were received at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.


He was sentenced in January 2015, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His hook devices have been replaced with a prosthetic spork.

Former Egyptian strip club bouncer turned cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, was imam at Finsbury Park Mosque from 1997 to 2002. He is serving a life sentence with parole never to be allowed. Photo/AP
Former Egyptian strip club bouncer turned cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, was imam at Finsbury Park Mosque from 1997 to 2002. He is serving a life sentence with parole never to be allowed. Photo/AP

The mosque was reclaimed in 2005 by the local Muslim community with the backing of the Muslim Association of Britain and a new management board was installed with the public told it would change from a hostile environment to a community centre for all.

However classified US documents released by Wikileaks in April 2011 said the mosque has served as a "haven" for Islamic extremists.

According to the files, 35 men has passed through Finsbury Park Mosque before being sent to fight against allied forces in Afghanistan.

In 2014, HSBC bank closed the mosque's bank account after a report by Reuters, who had to apologise and pay £10,000 ($17,000) in damages after legal action over the report by the mosque.

In 2015, the mosque was one of about 20 across the UK that took part in an open day organised by the MCB to promote better understanding of Islam following the Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks in Paris.


Despite the change in leadership and new focus on community relations, the mosque reported it had received a string of threatening emails and letters in the wake of the Paris attacks.

In December 2015, it was subjected to an attempted arson attack when a man holding a jerry can full of petrol, attempted to ignite it and threw it into the building.

Police treated it as attempted arson and an Islamophobic hate crime. Chairman Mohammed Kozbar said if the arson attack had happened when the mosque was busy "it would have been a disaster. There could have been loss of life."

UK Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn, the local MP, visited the mosque on an open day in February, praising its work.

"We can face up to the challenge of community cohesion ... to build bridges," Mr Kozbar said.

"Let's face it, people have misconceptions about Islam. The mosque is more than just prayers, but also a community centre where people can have fun."