Weekend knife attack on B.C. bus was ISIS terrorism, RCMP alleges

Click to play video: 'Surrey throat-slashing suspect facing terror charges'
Surrey throat-slashing suspect facing terror charges
WATCH: A shocking development in the gruesome attack on a Surrey bus on Saturday. Rumina Daya tells us why the suspect is now facing terrorism charges – Apr 3, 2023

An attack on a transit bus in Surrey, B.C. over the weekend is being treated as terrorism after RCMP national security police took over the investigation.

Abdul Aziz Kawam was initially charged with attempted murder for allegedly slashing a bus passenger in the throat on Saturday morning, but prosecutors added four counts of terrorism on Monday.

A second victim was also allegedly assaulted with a knife at a bus stop.

The charges allege the attacks were carried out for the so-called Islamic State.

Click to play video: 'Man in life-threatening condition after throat slashing on Surrey bus'
Man in life-threatening condition after throat slashing on Surrey bus
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The incident took place at about 9:30 a.m. when a man flashed a knife at a bus stop, then boarded a Coast Mountain bus and stabbed a passenger in the neck. The victim was badly injured but survived.

Described at first as a random attack following an altercation, the case took a turn when the case was handed to B.C.’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team on Sunday.

The new charges allege the attack was committed “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, to wit: the Islamic State,” according to B.C. provincial court records.

Shortly after the incident, Kawam allegedly made statements about having conducted the attack for ISIS.

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“The amended charges relate to allegations the assaults were carried out for the Islamic State,” the RCMP said in a news release late Monday.

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“We remain committed to uncovering all the facts relating to this disturbing and unprovoked assault, and value the work and collaboration from our policing partners, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police and Surrey RCMP Detachment,” said Superintendent David Teboul.

According to the charges, Kawam was born in 1995 and also goes by Abdulaziz.

He was already facing four counts: attempted murder, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, and two assaults with a weapon causing bodily harm.

The addition of the terrorism charges means he could face a life sentence. He made an appearance in Surrey court on Monday.

Terrorism charges for attacks are rare in Canada.

A 2020 killing at a Toronto massage parlour by an alleged incel misogynist was treated as “terrorist activity.”

The same charge was later used against an ISIS supporter who killed a woman on a Toronto sidewalk with a hammer in 2020, and in the 2021 deadly London van attack that allegedly targeted a Muslim family.

The B.C. case suggests the continued threat posed by low-level terrorism using everyday objects as weapons, as well as the lingering impact of ultra-violent ISIS ideology.

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On March 23, RCMP announced the arrest of a Montreal CEGEP student on terrorism allegations related to the so-called Islamic State.

Mohamed Amine Assal, 18, was arrested on a terrorism peace bond after the FBI tipped off the RCMP to his alleged discussions on social media about conducting attacks.

According to RCMP allegations filed in court, Assal promoted “violent jihad,” translated ISIS materials and counseled an online contact on explosives.

The Canadian government is currently preparing to repatriate six women captured in Syria during the fight against ISIS, and their children.

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