Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Was Toronto's Danforth Ave attack terror, or ISIS Islamic terrorism?
It was terror on the Danforth no question.
But was it terrorism?
In the hours following the evil carnage that took the lives of two girls, just 10 and 18 and wounded 14 others in a merciless flurry of gunfire along the restaurant-lined streets of Greektown, a complicated picture is emerging of 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, who also died after exchanging gunfire with police.
His family released a statement to CBC News expressing their “deepest condolences” to victims and their families, saying their son struggled with “severe mental health challenges.“
Meanwhile, my law-enforcement sources confirm investigators are looking at every avenue — including a potential jihadi-inspired mission.
Files being reviewed by police include concern Hussain expressed “support” for a website that was seen as “pro-ISIL,” says a law enforcement source.
Sources say police in Toronto and CSIS officials in Ottawa, as well as the RCMP, are looking into his past, which sources say include his residence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Hussain apparently had been spoken to by authorities about his online activities. Sources say Toronto Police, the OPP and the RCMP have all had an interest in the now-deceased shooter.
What law enforcement is saying is that the attack was planned, and Hussain was “well known to Toronto Police” for investigations into past crimes “involving weapons and violence.”
He was also known to hang out behind his building at 43 Thorncliffe Park Blvd. with a group of 20 friends.
“Police were called once because they thought Faisal was carrying a gun,” said someone who was there. “No gun was found.”
Meanwhile, Hussain’s family emailed a statement to CBC News outlining a life-long struggle with mental illness, depression and psychosis.
“We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth,” the statement read.
“While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.
“Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.”
A neighbour living near the apartment where Hussain lived with his parents said Faisal told him he previously worked in a bakery and as a grocer. While some friends said he was “not at all radical,” others said he was more interested in Islamic discussions “when there were more people around.”
At the 65 Mussallah Mosque near the building, Abubaker Patel said he knew Faisal’s father well, calling him “the nicest guy in the world.” The elder Hussain is in Sunnybrook Hospital and his other son has been in a coma for the past year, Patel said.
Faisal, he suggested, has lived alone in the apartment in the meantime.
Sources say the deceased shooter’s personal life is being explored — including searching his family’s residence in the Thorncliffe apartment building.
Police executed a search warrant Monday and were set to hunt for what they were told could be a stockpile of weapons and perhaps explosives. They were also interested in computers and hard drives.
While police made clear they have not ruled out any motives, the investigation will undoubtedly uncover the broken pieces of a life that ended in senseless violence and death.
Little comfort to his victims, or to a city struggling to make sense of this tragedy.
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