An attack on a transit bus in Surrey, B.C. over the weekend is being treated as terrorism after RCMP national security police took over the investigation.
Abdul Aziz Kawam was initially charged with attempted murder for allegedly slashing a bus passenger’s throat on Saturday morning, but prosecutors added four counts of terrorism on Monday.
A second victim was allegedly assaulted with a knife.
The charges allege the attacks were carried out for the so-called Islamic State.
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The incident took place at just after 9:30 a.m. when a man flashed a knife at a bus stop, then boarded a Coast Mountain bus and attacked a passenger, who was badly injured but survived.
Described at first as a random attack following an altercation, the case took a turn when B.C.’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was called in.
The new charges allege the attacks were committed “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, to wit: the Islamic State,” according to the B.C. provincial court records.
Kawam, who was born in 1995 and also goes by Abdulaziz, was already facing four counts: attempted murder, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and two assaults with a weapon causing bodily harm.
The addition of the terrorism charges means he could face a life sentence. He was scheduled for a court appearance in Surrey this morning.
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Terrorism charges for attacks are rare in Canada.
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A 2020 attack at a Toronto massage parlour by an alleged INCEL misogynist was treated as “terrorist activity.”
The same charge was later used against an ISIS supporter who killed a woman on a Toronto sidewalk with a hammer in 2020, and in the 2021 deadly London van attack that allegedly targeted a Muslim family.
The case suggests the continued threat posed by low-level terrorism using everyday objects as weapons, as well as the lingering impact of the ultra-violent ISIS.
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On March 23, RCMP announced the arrest of a Montreal CEGEP student on terrorism allegations related to the so-called Islamic State.
Mohamed Amine Assal, 18, was arrested on a terrorism peace bond after the FBI tipped off the RCMP to his alleged discussions on social media about conducting attacks.
According to RCMP allegations filed in court, Assal promoted “violent jihad,” translated ISIS materials and counseled an online contact on explosives.
The Canadian government is currently preparing to repatriate six women captured in Syria during the fight against ISIS, and their children.
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