Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Who is Faisal Hussain, the man behind the Toronto mass shooting? Illegal handgun and no RPAL
How curious it is that the most banal of truths — that human beings are complicated and nuanced, our inner lives and motivations rarely fully known, sometimes even to ourselves — remains among the hardest to swallow.
Yet that appears to be the case with Faisal Hussain, the 29-year-old identified by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit as the gunman in the Toronto shootings Sunday night.
Two people, 18-year-old Reese Fallon and an as yet-unidentified 10-year-old girl, were killed in the rampage, which played out on a warm summer’s night in crowded restaurants and sidewalk patios. Thirteen others were wounded, some suffering potentially life-altering injuries.
Hussain’s family, in a wrenching statement released through a third party hard upon the heels of the SIU announcement of the gunman’s identity, portrayed their son as in the grips of untreatable and severe mental illness for “his entire life.” Neither professionals, nor medication nor therapy could help him, they said.
It was a dire portrait, one the family said they had fought valiantly to ameliorate but failed.
No sooner had they gone public than on social media and in the mainstream media those with political points to score or axes to grind were seizing upon Hussain’s purported illness as proof either that the violence he unleashed was solely the product of that and nothing else or that it was somehow confirmation the authorities were conspiring to hide his ostensible extremist leanings.
Yet if the truth is out there, and it may not be, it probably lies as it often does in the murky middle.
The National Post has learned that Toronto Police files show little evidence of the typical history of a person with a florid mental illness such as “psychosis,” as his family said.
A senior police source, while cautioning that this doesn’t mean Hussain wasn’t mentally ill, said that often with such people, there are frequent encounters with police — calls from the family for help, suicide attempts or committals to hospital under the Mental Health Act.
With Hussain, the source said, “we have very little of that.”
The third party, who had distributed the family’s statement, didn’t reply to a Post email Tuesday, asking if he had any light to shed on the apparent contradiction between the statement and police files.
Similarly, neither did Hussain have a serious criminal record, nor any significant affiliation with the gangs — some of Afghan background, according to both police and at least one publicly available federal Immigration and Refugee Board case that saw a hard-core gangbanger ordered deported because of criminality — in his Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood.
Rather, the source said, Hussain remained on the periphery of gang life — well-connected enough to get his hands on an illegal handgun (the weapon he used was illegal and he had no Possession and Acquisition Licence), but either he was not in sufficiently deep that he acquired a serious record or he was lucky enough to avoid it.
And then there’s this: CBS News was reporting all day Tuesday that “investigators in Canada” were digging into “indications” suggesting Hussain may have visited and even expressed support for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) websites, though, the story said, there was no indication he’d been directed to carry out the attack.
All that was smartly batted away by federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, the minister responsible for counter-terrorism in Canada, who said Tuesday that at this stage of the investigation, “there is no connection between that individual and national security.”
The Toronto Police source also said that “there’s nothing like that at our end,” unless the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the RCMP have information to the contrary, which Goodale’s statement strongly suggests they do not.
Where then does that leave those who wish to point to a cause or explanation for Hussain’s actions, if only to confirm some belief or bias or fear of their own?
As the police source told the Post, “Is he Muslim? Yes. Does he probably know Muslim extremists? Yeah. Is he mentally ill? Yeah, probably. Does he have access to guns from the guys in his neighbourhood? Yeah. But be real careful what road you go down. We may never know what was going on in his mind.”
In other words, Faisal Hussain was complex, not just one thing, not a one-dimensional, cardboard cutout.
He was just like most everyone else, in other words complicated.
He was sweet to people in his building’s elevators, shy but nice.
And one night, he fired upon children and teenagers and people having coffee. And that, for all the shades of grey that constitute the human animal, is now the ghastly central fact of his life.
Please share this