A Toronto man arrested after allegedly taking three women hostage last month was once caught in police surveillance talking with a member of a Pakistani terrorist group about bullets, according to documents obtained by Global News.
Michael Storms, 35, was an “acquaintance” of Muhammad Aqeeq Ansari, a Pakistani national whom Canadian immigration authorities deported two years ago on the grounds he was a terrorist group member, the documents indicate.
During Ansari’s deportation hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB), an official asked about a conversation he had with Storms that was recorded by the RCMP’s Ontario Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
The conversation concerned “the use of certain types of bullets and the damage they might cause to a person,” Jessica Lourenco, a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officer, told a March 4, 2015 hearing, according to a transcript released by the IRB.
On June 28, Storms allegedly entered a Toronto spa and took three hostages. He then phoned the Toronto Star newsroom and said the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had been monitoring him. He said he was being targeted because of his religion and politics.
The agencies “have been keeping me under investigation and surveillance for about 15 years now,” according to a transcript of the call posted on the newspaper’s website. “No doctors would listen, the police didn’t really care, the RCMP were trying to get me, CSIS was trying to get me, the CBSA’s in my life.”
Two of the hostages were released but one was held for several hours until the Toronto Police Service resolved the standoff peacefully. Storms was charged with three counts of forcible confinement and three counts of uttering threats.
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There is no indication the incident was terrorism-related or that Storms was involved in terrorism. But the transcript shows he was recorded during an RCMP investigation called Project Seashell, which resulted in the deportation of a Pakistani terror group member.
A citizen of Pakistan, Ansari had come to Canada in 2007, but in 2012 Ontario Provincial Police searched his Peterborough, Ont., basement suite and found a cache of guns as well as extremist materials such as jihadist songs.
Project Seashell concluded that Ansari was a member of the terrorist group Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. Rather than charging Ansari, however, the RCMP passed the case to immigration authorities, who had Ansari arrested on Oct. 24, 2014.
Arguing for his deportation at a Refugee Board hearing on Feb. 25, 2015, the CBSA asked Ansari about “a conversation that O-INSET alleges took place between you and then an individual named Michael Storms.”
Ansari and Storms spoke about “the sell-outs, the traitors, the puppets running the show,” Lourenco said. She said they had also discussed “different types of bullets” and where on the body people are taught to shoot someone.
Asked by Lourenco about the conversation, Ansari said Storms was an “acquaintance” who had done most of the talking. “I was driving and he just kept talking and talking and — you can see I am not saying anything … I had to stop him.”
The Pakistani denied the CBSA’s terrorism allegations and said he merely collected firearms as a hobby, but the IRB ruled he was an SSP member and questioned “whether there was an underlying plan given that he also spent a fair amount of time at the gun range practicing his shot.”
He was deported in September 2015.
A night security guard, Storms had repeatedly denied he was a security threat in emails he sent to a reporter. He appeared in the Ontario Court of Justice on Tuesday. His next appearance is scheduled for July 18.