A man with schizophrenia who was found not criminally responsible after he attacked soldiers at a military recruitment centre in Toronto should be considered his own ‘lone wolf terrorist group,’ argued crown prosecutors at the Ontario Court of Appeal Monday.
Ayanle Hassan Ali was also acquitted of terror-related charges in May 2018 after Judge Ian MacDonnell said Ali’s actions do not fit the intended scope of Canadian terrorism laws.
At the time, MacDonnell said the definition of a terrorist under the criminal code could not apply to “an alleged one-person terrorist group.”
On Monday, the Crown said the judge erred in his decision and argued that a terrorist “can be a lone actor,” said Federal Crown Jason Wakley.
“Terrorist activity can be committed as readily by an individual — a lone wolf — as it can by a larger group,” read the Crown’s factum.
“He committed the offences for the benefit of or in association with his own lone wolf ‘terrorist group,'” it continued.
Prosecutors are asking for either a new trial on the terrorism charges, or for Ali to be found not criminally responsible on the terrorism offences which he was acquitted of.
For their part, Ali’s lawyers argue “Mr. Ali acted alone — driven by his delusions and hallucinations — and not for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group.”
Soldiers attacked at Toronto recruitment office
On March 14, 2016, Ali entered a Canadian Forces recruitment office in north Toronto at 4900 Yonge Street, armed with a knife, and attacked uniformed soldiers, leaving at least two with minor injuries. He was then overpowered and subdued.
Ali repeatedly punched and slashed at one soldier, leaving the man with a three-inch gash on his arm.
He then tried to stab or slash three other military personnel — one of whom was left with bruises and a “small, superficial nick” — before being subdued, an agreed statement of fact read.
Ali pleaded not guilty to three counts of attempted murder, three counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of assault causing bodily harm and one count of carrying a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence, all for the benefit or at the direction of a terror organization.
“The attack was motivated by the defendant’s radical religious and ideological beliefs but there is no dispute that the formation of those beliefs was in large part precipitated by mental disorder,” the judge said in his decision at the time.
“One of the beliefs that the defendant had formed in his mentally disordered state was that killing Canadian military personnel was justified because the military was fighting in Muslim lands.”