Police: A man attacked two members of Canada's military at a recruiting center
Authorities are looking into whether the attack has terror ties, police chief says
Terrorism is a possibility "because certain comments were made," he says
A man accused of injuring two Canadian service members in a knife attack at a military recruiting center allegedly said afterward that Allah told him to do it, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday.
” ‘Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people,’ ” suspect Ayanie Hassan Ali said Monday at the center in Toronto, according to Saunders.
Ali, a 27-year-old Canadian citizen, was detained on suspicion of injuring two troops – slashing one with a knife and stabbing the other – after walking into a recruitment center Monday afternoon in a federal building in Toronto, Saunders said.
Ali faces charges including one count of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon, one count of aggravated assault and a count of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, Saunders said. He was due in court at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.
Investigators still are trying to determine whether the attack was terrorism or simply criminal, Saunders said. Terrorism is a possibility “because certain comments were made … but there needs to be more to support,” the chief said.
Investigators have no information that Ali made the attack in concert with any other person or an organization, Saunders said.
“You can’t just do it (conclude it was terrorism) on one statement made. There needs to be more,” he said, adding that federal investigators also are checking on Ali, who was born in Montreal and has lived in Toronto since 2011.
The attack, Saunders said, began around 3 p.m. Monday when Ali walked into the recruiting center, struck a uniform-wearing master corporal who was behind a table and then slashed him with a knife in the upper right arm.
The slashing left a deep gash, police spokesman Mark Pugash said.
Ali then tried to slash a female service member in uniform, but she “managed to escape unscathed,” Saunders said.
The man walked on toward the rear of the center, where there were other employees in uniform. A second man was stabbed as troops subdued the suspect, police said.
Two military members were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and were later released, according to Saunders.
During the attack, military staff members ushered civilian applicants to a safe area, the chief said.
Past attacks on military in Canada
Saunders said he had no information about Ali’s religious activities or travel, if any. He said that he wasn’t sure where his relatives lived and that investigators would examine his residence once they get authorization.
Toronto Mayor John Tory said his office is monitoring the situation.
In October 2014, Canadian troops were targets of two fatal attacks on home soil, just days apart.
First, a “radicalized” convert to Islam drove into two members of the Canadian armed forces who had been walking in a strip mall parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, killing one of them, Canadian authorities said.
That driver, whom police later shot to death, had expressed support online for the Islamist terror group ISIS and may have been responding to an ISIS spokesman’s call to arms, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
Two days later, a Canadian soldier was gunned down while standing guard at a war memorial in the capital of Ottawa.
Officials alleged the gunman, who was killed when he stormed into Parliament shortly afterward, had jihadist ties.