Muslim man who attacked Canadian soldiers in a vicious knife attack is not a terrorist

Published on 22 December 2019 by Kirsty

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Last modified 19 January 2021

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Ayanle Hassan Ali, 27, was found not criminally responsible for a 2016 knife attack at a Canadian Armed Forces recruiting centre in North York.

Ayanle Hassan Ali, the mentally ill man who attacked military personnel at a Yonge St. recruiting centre three years ago, will not be retried as a terrorist.

Ontario’s highest court agreed with the trial judge who found section 83.2 of the Criminal Code — the anti-terrorism section enacted by Parliament after 9/11 — isn’t designed to capture a “lone wolf.”

In May 2018, Superior Court Justice Ian MacDonnell acquitted Ali on the terror part of the indictment, finding that while he was motivated by extremist beliefs linked to his mental illness, he wasn’t acting on behalf of any terror group.

Instead, the judge found him not criminally responsible for the lesser included offences of attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm and possession of a dangerous weapon.

Federal prosecutors had urged the appeal court to order a new trial on the terrorism charges, insisting MacDonnell was mistaken and Ali did act “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group” — a group composed of himself alone.

“Lone-wolf terrorists are a serious problem in Canada and abroad and their recent ‘successes’ may inspire others,” they contended in documents filed with the court earlier this year. “The trial judge’s interpretation impedes the ability to arrest and charge the lone wolf.”

The appeal court disagreed.

“That the principal and the terrorist group may be one and the same person — is inconsistent with the modern principle of statutory interpretation,” wrote Justice David Watt on behalf of the three-member panel. “It is a reasonable inference that Parliament did not intend that s. 83.2 would apply to the lone wolf terrorist.”

And so when Ali, 31, is deemed mentally healthy enough to be released from his current residence in the secure forensic unit at Hamilton’s St. Joseph’s Health Centre, he will not be saddled with the terrorist label.

Yet Ali’s belief system hasn’t changed much since he stormed into the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre in North York on March 14, 2016.

Suffering from untreated schizophrenia and in the midst of a psychosis, his frenzied attack lasted less than a minute.

“I have a licence to kill, I have a green light to kill,” he had written in his diary. “One soldier is all it takes, just one. I can’t let those fools play games with me. I’ve been ready and willing for a while now.”

He repeatedly punched the first uniformed soldier in the head, then lunged at him with a large kitchen knife he’d hidden in a folder, leaving a three-inch gash in the corporal’s arm.

When a sergeant rushed out of her office, Ali gave chase and narrowly missed slicing the back of her neck. He then tried to slash and stab another sergeant who, in the chaos, had slipped on spilled coffee and fallen to the ground.

With Ali’s first blow, the blade hit the floor. He then continued stabbing the man in the head and torso but, luckily, was now using the wrong end of his knife.

After Ali was disarmed and restrained, he “appeared to be laughing, smiling, and giggling, and on something.” Others described him as “not present” and “lost in the clouds.”

At his latest Ontario Review Board hearing held in July, all agreed the mentally ill man has improved with medication but continues to pose a “significant threat” to the community.

According to his psychiatrist, he’s still receiving messages from the Internet and TV telling him he’s being watched by the military. More troubling, “Mr. Ali still believes that military are a legitimate target, and this belief remains a risk issue.”

The good news, the ORB says, is “Ali is no longer looking to become a martyr.”

If they get “his beliefs under control,” the review board predicts there’s a “reasonable likelihood” he’ll be allowed passes of up to 48 hours to visit his family in Toronto — to be supervised only by his father and sister.

Source Toronto Sun