A 27-year-old man told police “Allah told me” to launch an attack with a large knife on a military recruitment center in Toronto on Monday that left two injured, police say.
Ayanie Hassan Ali, a Canadian citizen, stabbed two members of the Canadian Forces at the center in North York on Monday, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday at a press conference.
Ali was taken into custody at the scene and was charged with attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon and one count of aggravated assault, police said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Told Police ‘Allah Told Me to Come Here & Kill People’, the Chief Says
Ayanie Hassan Ali walked into the Canadian Forces recruitment center at 4900 Yonge Street at about 3 p.m. Monday, police said in a press release.
He walked past a uniformed master corporal, who tried to get his attention, police said.
“The accused then started striking him until he fell to the ground,” Police Chief Mark Saunders. “The master corporal managed to get up, at which point he observed the accused with a large knife in his hand. He continued to advance to the master corporal and slashed him on the upper right arm.”
Ali is then accused of stabbing another military member.
“As he went further into the center, military staff corralled civilian staff into a safe location and subdued the accused until police arrived,” said Saunders.
While he was being taken into custody, Ali told police, “Allah told me to do this,” and “Allah told me to come here and kill people,” Saunders said.
2. Police Say They Have No Indication He Was Working With a Terror Organization
Police Chief Mark Saunders said at a press conference Tuesday the case is being investigated as a possible terror attack, but said there is no indication so far the suspect was working with a larger organization.
“To date, there is nothing to indicate the accused is working with anyone or in concert with any organization at this time,” Saunders said. “The investigation is still ongoing and it will take some time to have a complete picture.”
The Toronto Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service are continuing to investigate.
Ali is expected in court Tuesday.
3. The Two Soldiers Wounded in the Stabbing Were Released From the Hospital
The two soldiers wounded in the stabbing were taken to the hospital, where they were treated and later released, the CBC reports.
Their names and other details about them have not been made public.
“We continue to provide service at the Canadian Armed Forces detachment here in Toronto,” Major Richard Silva, with the Canadian Armed Forces, told reporters. “[It’s] business as usual, although we do remain vigilant to ensure the safety of Canadian Armed Forces members and anyone who visits our recruiting centers.”
Police have said the incident could have been much worse if the trained soldiers inside the recruitment center had not reacted and taken down the suspect.
4. Ali Was Born in Montreal & Moved to Toronto in 2011, Police Say
Ayanie Hassan Ali was born in Montreal and moved to Toronto in 2011, police said.
Little is known about the suspect, who has no history with police, the National Post reports.
He appeared to be “unresponsive” after he was taken into custody and wouldn’t answer police questions, the National Post reports. He was taken to the hospital for observation, police told the newspaper.
5. The Prime Minister Says Canadians Will ‘Not Be Intimidated by Terror & Hate’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted a response to the stabbings on Tuesday.
“Canadians – and the @CanadianForces – will not be intimidated by terror & hate. May the CAF members injured yesterday make a full recovery,” Trudeau wrote.
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders cautioned against any anti-Islam sentiment in the wake of the attack, the CBC reports.
“I don’t want this categorizing a large group of people; that will be very unfair and very inaccurate,” Saunders told reporters Tuesday.
He added he doesn’t want to see any, “Islamophobia nonsense.”