Around 3 pm Monday, Canadian citizen Ayanie Hassan Ali entered the ground floor of a government building in Toronto armed with a knife and attacked several soldiers at a Canadian Forces recruitment center. Toronto police chief Mark Saunders gave details of the attack at a press conference Tuesday morning. Chief Saunders described how the the attack took place:
A uniformed master corporal was posted at a table near the entrance to the access point. At this time the accused walked past the recruiting center very quickly and walked right past the master corporal. When the master corporal tried to address the accused, the accused ignored him, walked into the office and around a table where the master corporal was seated. The accused began striking him until he fell to the ground. The master corporal managed to get up at which point he observed the accused had a large knife in his hand. The accused continued to advance on the master corporal and slashed him on the upper right arm.
Ali continued into the office where he tried and failed to slash a female soldier. He was finally taken down by a group of soldiers who held him until the police arrived at the scene. Two soldiers were sent to the hospital but their injuries were not life threatening. Chief Saunders also added this detail, “While at the scene the accused stated that ‘Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people.”
Chief Saunders said there was no known connection to an outside terror group (at least not at this point in the investigation) and added that his office was working with other agencies to determine if this would be classified as a terror attack. Later, Chief Saunders added, “One of the things that I want to be very, very careful of when it comes to the national security piece that we don’t go through that Islamophobia nonsense. People are very small numbers, very small minutiae of numbers of people. So I don’t want this categorizing of a large group of people. That would be very unfair and very inaccurate.”
There were two “lone wolf” terror attacks in Canada in October 2014. In the first, Martin Couture-Rouleau rammed a car into two Canadian Forces soldiers, one of whom died from injuries. Just two days later Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a Canadian Forces soldier and then entered the Centre Block parliament building where he died in a shootout.
Ayanie Hassan Ali has been charged with attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon and two other charges.