In Windsor, Ontario, the holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, but it wasn’t that way for the Widholm family in 2108. On December 15, Anne Widholm died at Windsor Regional Hospital, but there was more to the story. The 76-year-old grandmother had suffered a fate worse than death, accompanied by special treatment for the man who killed her.
On Sunday October 8, 2017, Anne Widholm attended the Riverside Baptist Church, followed by a walk on the Ganatchio trail. As Anne’s son Kristopher explained in a statement to the court, the morning walks were “her time to be quiet with herself and to be, as best as she knew how, with God.” That day, “she crossed paths with a person who made a choice to destroy her despite her fear and her protest, and despite her inability to inflict any kind of pain on the attacker.”
Habibullah Ahmadi, 21, attacked the defenseless 75-year-old grandmother, repeatedly slamming her head to the ground and literally beating her into a coma. It was “a worse state than death,” according to Dr. Balraj Jhawar, who did his best to keep Widholm alive.
The grandmother had suffered “the worst skull fractures I’ve seen in my 12 years here in Windsor,” the neurosurgeon told reporters. The victim’s lacerated scalp, bruised face and fractured neck vertebrae were “among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career.”
At age 21, Habibullah Ahmadi was a full adult, but his booking photo never appeared in the Windsor Star, the local paper of record. From the attack through the trial and beyond, not a single photo of Habibullah Ahmadi appeared in any publication or news website. In similar style, no public statement emerged from “Windsor man” Habibullah Ahmadi or any of his family, friends, fellow students or co-workers, before or after the trial.
Habibullah Ahmadi pleaded not guilty and claimed he was high on marijuana and magic mushrooms, that he blacked out, and that he was afraid of Anne Widholm. The court did its best to ignore his possible motive for murdering the defenseless grandmother.
Justice Bruce Thomas told the court Ahmadi “had the intention to cause Sara Anne Widholm bodily harm” and was “likely to cause her death, and that he was clearly reckless as to whether death ensued.” People in the community, Thomas said, “can find no apparent motive” for the attack. In similar style, Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens, found “no reason at all” for the crime.
Convicted murderer Habibullah Ahmadi will be eligible for parole 13 years, with 10 years a distinct possibility. Reports on the trial ignore a back story that could explain Habibullah’s motive for murdering Anne Widholm. In 2017, Windsor’s Arabic-language newspaper Al Forqan, was calling knife attacks on Jews in Israel a “sacred duty of jihad.”
The Palestinian teenager “wielding a knife in his hand, defending the honor and dignity of every Arab and every Muslim,” said the editorial, by Mohammed Khalifeh, founder, CEO and editor-in-chief of Al Forqan. The Palestinian teenager “does not accept the injustice in the face of the Zionist usurper” and “I’m asking Allah to give victory to the youths of Palestine,” and so on.
Khalifeh, who claims he worked as a journalist in Lebanon before coming to Canada, had also posted an online video of rocket attacks on Israel accompanied by the poem: “Fire [at Israel], Fire because you are courageous, Fire because you are the typhoon, Show them your bravery, raise your head, show them the descendants of the [Caliph Omar] al-Mukhtar [conqueror of Jerusalem], Break your shackle, show your sword, destroy the siege imposed on you, Destroy the brutal Zion [Israel].”
Around the time of the “Duty of Jihad” editorial, the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex hired Khalifeh as a “life skills coach” for recent immigrants, including Syrian refugees. Any Al Forquan reports on Habibullah Ahmadi’s murder trial escaped noticed in local media.
In February of 2019, two months after the death of Anne Widholm, Khalifeh called a terrorist attack against a synagogue in Israel a “qualitative attack” carried out by “two heroes.” The attack claimed five worshippers and a policeman.
The 2017 murder of Anne Widholm, according to Dr. Jhawar, was “not just another random attack.” As the surgeon explained, “this is maybe representing a new, dark side of Windsor that we can’t let propagate.” At this point, it certainly looks like they are. With murder portrayed as a sacred duty, and the murderer’s motive ignored, Anne Widholm is certain to gain company. No justice will make for no peace in Windsor, Ontario.