The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Monday took over the investigation of a weekend knife attack on a bus in British Columbia because it was deemed an act of terrorism, perpetrated by a supporter of the Islamic State.
The attack occurred on a bus traveling through Surrey, British Columbia, at a little after 9:30 on Saturday morning. The bus had about twenty passengers on board at the time.
According to the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, suspect Abdul Aziz Kawam threatened someone at a bus stop and “brandished a knife, holding it to the victim’s throat” before boarding the vehicle and getting into an “altercation” with a different person.
“During that altercation, one of the men allegedly took out a knife and slashed the other male’s throat,” a constable told CBC News on Sunday.
The victim was able to push the suspect from the back doors of the bus after the driver pulled over, but not before he sustained life-threatening injuries. The Transit Police quoted a hospital nurse who said the victim only survived because the knife was dull. The Vancouver Sun reported the victim was slashed in the throat during the attack.
The Transit Police handed the case over to the RCMP after they discovered some “concerning comments” made by Kawam. On Tuesday, he was charged with “committing an offense for the benefit of a terrorist organization,” namely the Islamic State.
Kawam was also charged with one count of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and one count of possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
The police would not provide any details of what Kawam said that linked him to ISIS, only that his statements were “concerning enough to notify INSET” – the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, Canada’s interagency counter-terrorism task force.
The Vancouver Sun reported Kawam has “no criminal history on the provincial court database,” but he was involved in a “mental health-related incident” with the Transit Police in 2019.
The Global News noted Monday that terrorism charges in Canada are rare, and can carry penalties of up to life in prison.
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