A hammer attack that killed a 64-year-old woman in Toronto on Feb. 21st has been linked by police to terrorism, with the alleged murderer now facing a terrorism-related charge. Saad Akhtar, 30 (photo below), was already facing a first-degree murder charge over the apparently random killing of the woman, attacked by a man with a hammer on Friday evening.
Global News (h/t Richard S) But on Tuesday, prosecutors updated charge to “murder – terrorist activity.” The charge applies to a murder “if the act or omission constituting the offence also constitutes a terrorist activity.”
The victim has been identified by police as Hang-Kam Annie Chui (below) of Scarborough. According to Toronto police, the victim was walking east on Sheppard Avenue, near Markham Road, when she was attacked by a man armed with a hammer and struck in the back of the head. The woman was found in “obvious distress” by a passerby. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“As part of our investigation into the homicide, we came across evidence that lead us to believe there may be a terrorism-related offence,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray.
Police then contacted the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto, which probes terrorism cases. “And that’s what’s brought us to today where the updated charge was laid in court this morning,” said Gray.
Akhtar’s mother, who said the family had left Pakistan in 2001, said he walked an hour every day to a mosque and back but did not return home on Friday night as usual, she said, adding the attack did not occur on his regular route home.
It was unclear whether Akhtar was attached to any terrorist group. The Islamic State has since 2014 been urging followers to conduct attacks using readily-available weapons such as knives and vehicles.