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Image of wreath and banners of peace placed by BPCA volunteer at the site of Danforth attack where a shrine of rememberance has formed.
On Sunday 22nd July a gunman armed with what one witness called “a pistol or a hand gun” shot 15 people, injuring 13 and ending lives of two young women aged 10 and 18 years. The attack occurred in a popular restaurant district known as Greektown on Danforth Street referred to affectionately by locals as simply “The Danforth”. After ISIS claimed responsibility the police argued there was not yet enough evidence to support that and they continue to question the credibility of the assertion - Daesh has after all made false claims in the past. However there is mounting evidence indicating the skill and intent of the shooter.
Image: Mentally ill or trained assassin? Quite visibly Faisal Hussain knows how to handle a gun!
The statement claiming the now deceased gunman as "a solider of the Islamic State" was released by AMAQ, the news agency operated by ISIS. However, the mass shooter was also found to have visited ISIS websites and also to have spent time in Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan. (click here)
CBC, Canada's nationalized television station reports:
"Toronto's Police Chief Mark Saunders flatly stated that there is no evidence to support a connection so far, and, just a day earlier, a spokesperson for federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said "there is no national security nexus to the shooter." (click here)
Faisal Hussain 29 years of Toronto who lived with his parents in North York, a Toronto neighbourhood, ended his assault by shooting and killing himself though at first it was unclear whether his mortal wound was sustained by the shots fired by police or self-inflicted. Following the carnage Monica Hudon of the province of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit urged all members of the public to share any video of the shooting or information pertaining to a possible motive (click here).
BPCA Researcher Keri-Lynn Gibbs, herself a Canadian, in her initial reaction said:
“It is hard to say all of the reasons why this man decided to take a gun and shoot 15 people while killing two of them.
"Police are saying that it is too early to speculate and are open to all the possibilities.
"Regardless of any conclusions that are offered it appears some how he believed that killing other people and taking their lives away made his own life more valuable even as his ended.
"Whatever people conjecture, the killer did this because he had the means and desire to do so. It was hard to miss the immediate claim by his family that he was having long-term mental health issues; but people still want to understand why they are being shot at.
"There are a lot of regulations for getting a firearm in Canada and if Mr Hussain got his weapon illegally that would also take specific knowledge or considerable effort both of which show capable intention and planning.”
There was a large quantity of ammunition found in the apartment that Hussain shared with his parents, which are believed to have been acquired through gang connections in the United States.
Police are investigating whether this is connected in any way to Faisal Hussain's brother Fahad who is in a drug-induced coma from what is presumed to be an accidental overdose. Fahad Hussain has ties to another case involving firearms where over 30 guns were seized in Pickering, Ontario last year along with Carafentanil which is an opioid used to sedate elephants, but also a chemical toxin characterized by some military experts as a chemical weapon. (click here) (click here)
Neighbours of Hussain expressed shock at the violence enacted by their neighbour and while some described him as "not normal" others were incredulous at the claims he was suffering from mental health concerns saying there didn't seem to be anything wrong with him. (click here) (click here) As a teenager he had been investigated under the Mental Health Act for apparently making a comment about wanting "to kill someone because I think it would be cool". (click here)
The panicked visitors on The Danforth, an area deemed by many reports as "busy and family-friendly", will not soon forget the terror they felt being targeted on what was a warm summer evening out with friends. Reese Fallon, an 18 year-old aspiring nurse, and young talent 10 year-old Julianna Kozis, had their lives cut short that evening. 30th July Prime Minister Trudeau spoke of his optimism for "a better world" as he attended Ms. Fallon's funeral and paid his respects at the site of the tragedy a week after the mass shooting. Mr Trudeau was greeted by a heckler in the crowd as "an opportunist" who was then hushed by those in the crowd who said, "This is not the time, or the place!".
What we do know for certain is that there has been a rash of gun violence in Toronto over the last year - the likes that have not been seen before - that has been disconcerting for people from every stripe. The reasons seem nebulous and random; plausible reasons that have been given for the onslaught of gun attacks are gang violence, individuals with psychosis, racial tensions and social angst. Not every form of gun violence Toronto is experiencing is exactly the same and in reports and comments there is ostensibly a tendency to overgeneralize perhaps to mute the fact this was not random stray bullets but Hussein was actively locating and aiming at specific targets. It is not known for certain that this was ISIS inspired, but just because the source of guns was gangs in the US does not eliminate this possibility and there is enough to raise suspicion whether the authorities decide it is conclusive or not.
Tarek Fatah, a Pak-Canadian journalist from the Ahmadi community known for his criticism of radical Islam and who has no question about whether or not this was a jihadi strike, identified the shooter Faisal Hussain as Pakistani-Canadian and commented in his Twitter post saying that he was,
" Waiting to hear someone address the real issue bothering all of us." (click here)
In his article in the Toronto Sun, Mr Fatah who believes the mental health claim was penned by a lawyer pointedly asked, "Mentally ill? The Media or the Murderer?" (Click here) to read the entire article.
Australian Muslim cleric Imam Mohammed Tawhidi bluntly tweeted:
“If you think all these Jihadi terrorists kill because they have a mental illness, then perhaps you are the one with a mental illness. It’s not mental illness, it’s their allegiance.”
Keri-Lynn further comments:
“I was watching the news when a local - who I can only think must have still been in shock - commented to journalists about ‘the deeper issues’ while standing between lines of yellow tape seeming as if it didn’t occur to him that people had just bled there on the pavement and two young ladies had just died on ‘The Danforth’.
"It seems like people are talking in general or academic terms to rebuff the gravity of the shocking incident.
"Canadians like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but these individuals who take the opportunity to lecture, and sermonize, maybe they just want to feel some level of control over the chaos?"
Chief Saunders the head of the Toronto City Police is investigating all possible motives in their attempts to fairly and justly get to the bottom of why this happened. He projected a realistic assessment saying in his press conference,
"It's not going to happen overnight. There is no magic pill we're going to take to say all is well." (click here)
Keri-Lynn explained further:
"My heart goes out to the families of the deceased and those who were injured, but also to survivors like the young woman working at the 'Second Cup', who in her statement widens her eyes at the fact she was being shot at and seems overwhelmed with thanks that no one in her café was hit by the bullets that came their way.
"These people stared death in the face and we simply need hear them tell their stories. They are hurting from a very real and direct attack - this is not some imaginary bogeyman.”
The patrons of other dining establishments in the area where not so fortunate and as described by some reports the shooter "executed" people one witness described him firing three times upon a woman who fell down near him, while others were passed by and assured "I am not going to shoot you," all behaviour that reflects that the killer had his targets in mind and that he was making choices about who lived and who died. In order to expedite the attack he needed to know how to handle a firearm, he demonstrated skill with his weapon and would have had to rehearse the killings. (click here)
To read other eye witness accounts (click here).
Rather bizarrely reporter Muhammed Lia in his Twitter feed drew attention to Islam by saying:
You know the
#TorontoShooting suspect? He was Muslim.
You know who else was? The head of the trauma unit that performed life saving surgery on five victims, and the cafe worker who cradled a victim
in his arms as shots rang out. Goodness is everywhere. 2:06 PM - 24 Jul 2018
It is unclear whether this tweet is emphasizing that Muslims are an integral part of community life in Toronto, or is minimising Hussain's possibly Islamist ties by pointing out the heroics of two other community members who also happen to be Muslim and clearly have no terrorist ties. They are simply Canadians doing excellent work and showing basic human decency. To point out their and the shooter's religion as they responded as Torontonians to the terrifying reality of the damage Faisal Hussain wrought in order to see the events with a positive spin or to salve religious pride seems highly insensitive to all the victims. It begs the question why such comments are necessary and whether they are actually helpful. (click here)
Wilson Chowdhry said,
"The authorities say they are investigating all the possible causes, but why is there is a concerted campaign to press the mental health rationale when there is plausible evidence to show terrorist sympathies, such as he was well trained in firearms and visited Afghanistan? Mental health and terrorism as plausible causes are not mutually exclusive.
"Muslims also suffer from Islamist terrorist attacks and many want to address the concerns of radicalization in their faith. After the London attack we held a vigil that was attended by a diverse group of citizens who believe that we are better together and sincerely want to deal with extremism. It does not make anyone feel better to ignore the ammunition found in Mr Hussein's parent's home and the chemical weapons grade drugs associated with his brother as a benign coincidence."
Some media outlets have commented on concerns that there has been too much sympathy directed to the shooter at the expense of the victims. Reports say that Hussain who was armed to the teeth with the multiple magazines for his .40 Smith and Wesson handgun and was summarily "armed for war". The authorities noted not only what kind of weaponry he had but how Faisal Hussain used it with police saying that they "had never come across a better shooter" and another described his skill as "very proficient" and “He used tactical stances and was able to do on-the-move reloads...That's not easy”. Surveillance also shows him "acting strangely" and "pacing back and forth" the hour before the shooting. One witness who acknowledges the possible mental health concerns said, "... I will say in my years of dealing with emotionally disturbed people I have never seen anybody operate any kind of weapon as well as he did.” (click here)
The Parliament Hill attack in October 2014 that had Canada's parliamentarians barricading themselves in their caucus rooms held shut by the archaic parliamentary furniture was also deemed the result of a mental unstable individual and convert to Islam, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist standing guard at the national war memorial before the attacker was shot dead by an officer in the Parliament's Centre Block. (click here) July 24th was the 4th anniversary of this attack; Police were swift to respond that day to a man attacking the ceremonial guard and there were inaccurate reports that a man had a knife on the Parliament grounds, but it was only a pocket knife found in the vicinity. (click here)
Toronto also suffered a van attack that was attributed to mental health with that assailant Alek Minassian having ties to what is known as the ‘incel movement’ - known for despising women - where that attacker was apprehended without further incident by the police (click here).
In Edmonton, the suspect, a refugee from Somalia who came to Canada by crossing the border illegally from the United States, was also disarmed and brought into custody blocks from the Alberta Legislature Building, after several attempts to kill people with his vehicle and trying to stab a police officer to death. Initially there was the suggestion that he was mentally unstable, but he was later found fit to stand trial (click here). Even with recovery of an Islamic State flag from his vehicle authorities were reluctant to call it terrorism (click here).
Pakistani Christians have openly condemned the attack
We left a scripture that calls for people to do good to counter the evil around us.