'Inclusive' Toronto Under Attack

The back story to Monday’s mayhem in Canada.

Back in 2010, al Qaeda called for terrorist recruits to use trucks to “mow down the enemies of Allah.” In 2014, the Islamic State (ISIS) told fighters if they couldn’t find an IED or a bullet they should kill unbelievers with a knife, rock, or poison, or “run over him with your car.” 

True to form, in Nice, Berlin, Barcelona, Stockholm, and London, Islamic terrorists used vehicles to mount deadly attacks. Uzbek Muslim Sayfullo Saipov, acting on behalf of the Islamic State, used a rented truck to murder eight victims in New York City last October. 

Monday’s attack in Toronto was deadlier, with the driver killing Anne Marie D’Amico, an Invesco employee, and nine others, with 13 injured. As with other attacks, confusion prevailed about the motive. 

The driver was Alek Minassian, 25, of nearby Richmond Hill, a Seneca College student supposedly unknown to the police, as some reports claimed, but known to the police in others. On Tuesday, he emerged as  a “special needs” student who would walk around making meowing noises.

He reportedly touted a “rebellion” for the “incels,” the involuntarily celibate, against the Chads and Stacys of the world. The clean-shaven Minassian hailed Elliot Roger, allegedly a fellow incel, who killed six people in Santa Barbara in 2014. But in the early going Monday, the driver escaped recognition entirely. 

In their first press conference, Toronto police said “a vehicle was driving” and hitting pedestrians, apparently all by itself. In similar style, “A rental van mowed down pedestrians,” reported the Globe and Mail, and the white van with the Ryder logo “fled the area.”  A witness named Ali told the Globe and Mail he thought the driver had a heart attack, but local café worker Chelsea Luelo told CNN the driver was hitting people intentionally. 

By many accounts, Minassian acted deliberately but Canadian authorities were discounting terrorism and invoking mental illness as the motive. If the reporting was correct, and there was room for reasonable doubt, this was not a jihadist attack in the style of Sayfullo Saipov. 

Even so, Toronto mayor John Tory said “I hope that we will, as a city, remind ourselves of the fact that we are admired around the world for being inclusive and for being accepting and understanding and considerate.” That statement struck Robert Spencer as odd. 

As he noted, many attacks by jihadis had been blamed on mental illness. It seemed as if the mayor was being inclusive of the mentally ill and those who drive trucks into pedestrians. On the other hand, “is there a community that John Tory is anxious to assure the world that Toronto is ‘inclusive’ of, that has some connection to this attack?”  It has become clear that Canada is indeed inclusive of the community involved in the nation’s most recent attack using a motor vehicle as a weapon. 

The United States booted out Somali refugee Abdulahi Hasan Sharif who found a warm welcome north of the border. Last September, with an ISIS flag in tow, Hasan Shari rammed Edmonton police officer Mike Chernyk with a rented vehicle, stabbed the officer in the face, then drove through crowds spilling out of a football game, injuring four people. The Somali faces charges of attempted murder, dangerous driving and criminal flight, but authorities brought no charges of terrorism. 

In January, Toronto Muslim Khawlah Noman, 11, claimed a man in his 20s twice tried to cut her hijab, and that quickly became a national story. Toronto mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne weighed in on the case, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proclaimed that in a welcoming country like Canada such incidents could not be tolerated. Noman’s hijab claim turned out to be a hoax, but when Habibullah Ahmad, 21, attacked Anne Wildholm, 75, in Windsor, Ontario, leaving her near death with horrific head injuries, neither Trudeau nor Wynne said such incidents could not be tolerated. 

The hereditary Prime Minister recently approved payment of $10.5 million, plus an apology, for Omar Khadr, the Canadian-born al-Qaeda militant who killed American soldier Sgt. Christopher Speer in a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. That largesse left many Canadians puzzled, but by now the back story should be clear. 

According to terrorism expert Tom Quiggin, a former military intelligence officer who has contracted with the RCMP, Justin Trudeau has a “nine-year long record of supporting the Islamist cause while refusing to engage with reformist Muslims.” Prime Minister Trudeau has not established a policy for returning ISIS fighters, but they will likely get preferential treatment, if not a monetary bonus in the style of Omar Khadr. 

As Quiggin notes, Islamist confrontation, oppression and violence are growing but Canada is “accommodating those who form the ideological basis of the problem.” A Muslim terrorist like Abdulahi Hasan Sharif can “mow down the enemies of Allah” in Edmonton and “special needs” incel Alek Manassian can run over pedestrians in Toronto. In Canada, where “diversity is our strength,” both can expect the most lenient treatment.  

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