Abdulahi Sharif has been charged with several offences, including five counts of attempted murder, in Saturday night’s vehicle and stabbing attacks in Edmonton.
Sharif, 30, was also charged with five counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, one count of criminal flight causing bodily harm and one count of possession of a weapon. Although police have said terrorism charges are expected, none has been laid so far.
The charges come after Const. Mike Chernyk was run down by a vehicle and stabbed outside Commonwealth Stadium while conducting a roadblock at an Edmonton Eskimos football game.
Watch below: Edmonton police released security video showing a car ramming into a police officer and the suspect getting out of the vehicle to stab the officer. WARNING: Video contains disturbing images.
Four pedestrians were also injured when they were struck by a U-Haul van in downtown Edmonton.
Who is Abdulahi Sharif?
According to documents provided to the police by the government of Alberta and obtained by Global News, Sharif is a Somali refugee who came to Canada in 2012. Initial information on the documents indicated he was sponsored by the federal government for one year.
But according to a spokesperson for the minister of Public Safety, Sharif presented himself at an official port of entry and then claimed asylum status. He was granted refugee status later that year.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale insisted security screening of Sharif was thorough.
“We make sure when doing the vetting that we’re not only checking Canadian records but also international records to make sure when it comes to identification, when it comes to any criminal record, when it comes to any immigration violation in the past or any other reason for any concern about public safety,” he told reporters in Ottawa.
On Monday morning, RCMP “K” Division Supt. Stacey Talbot said Sharif currently holds “convention refugee status.”
Sharif was investigated three years after arriving in Canada, in 2015, after police received a complaint that he was allegedly “espousing extremist ideology.”
“At the end of that exhaustive investigation, there was insufficient evidence to pursue terrorism charges or a peace bond,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand said.
Watch below: The man charged in Saturday’s vehicle and stabbing attacks in Edmonton was investigated by police in 2015. RCMP said before this weekend’s incidents, there was “no information to suggest that there was any public safety concern.”
On Sunday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said “the individual apparently had some appearance on a police watch list but that is a detail of the investigation that the authorities will pursue in the appropriate way. There are no conclusions that can be drawn at this present time.”
Watch below: Ralph Goodale says suspect in Edmonton attacks had “some appearance” on police watch list
According to documents provided to police and obtained by Global News, Sharif was receiving Employment Insurance benefits until January 2017 and had a work permit that expired in May 2017.
Sharif is married, his wife lives in Africa. He has no dependent children in his care.
Edmonton’s Catholic Social Services (CSS), which has worked with thousands of refugees over the past four decades, said it did not process the accused’s refugee application.
However, the organization did meet with Sharif in December 2014 to talk about work permits. CSS was not able to say what type of work he did.
“It was a very brief meeting, less than about 30 minutes,” communications manager Jason Gariepy said. “We don’t really have many details about that encounter because we did schedule a follow up three days later — which would have been Dec. 18, 2014 — and he didn’t show up for a follow-up meeting.
“Due to the volume of clients that we have, follow-up isn’t always possible on a case-by-case basis. So he didn’t show up and we considered the file closed.”
Gariepy said the staff members who met with Sharif are no longer with CSS, so “we’re not even in a position to do follow-up. But there was nothing placed in the file that would have caused any concern about radicalization or any issues that would have been brought to senior managers within the agency or, if necessary, law enforcement.”
Sharif is currently being held at the Edmonton Remand Centre and is scheduled for a bail hearing in provincial court on Tuesday morning.
Watch below: Supt. Stacey Talbot, with RCMP “K” Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team speaks to the charges laid against Abdulahi Sharif.
With files from Vassy Kapelos, Global News.