By Scott Taylor
On Monday, April 23rd, a rental van was deliberately driven down a pedestrian sidewalk in Toronto, mowing down a total of 24 victims. Ten of those bystanders were killed. Of the 14 injured, many were left in critical condition. When the van came to a halt, Police Constable Ken Lam bravely confronted the suspect who had exited his vehicle. Witnesses took videos of the dramatic takedown and arrest of the suspect, wherein a composed Lam refused to be drawn into discharging his firearm. This, despite the fact that the attacker claimed he was armed, pretended to pull out a pistol (his cell phone) and asked Lam to shoot him.
Despite all this abundant imagery of what transpired before, during, and after the deadly van attack, media reports have been very careful to insert the word ‘allegedly’ when detailing the actions of ‘accused’ killer Alek Minassian. This is how the media are supposed to report crimes in a society that prides itself on upholding the rule of law, whereby an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Contrast this treatment of a suspect who attacked Canadians here on our own soil, with the alleged Russian spy poisoning case in the UK. British authorities still have no plausible theory as to how nerve agent Novichok was administered to former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. No suspect has been arrested, yet Russian President Vladimir Putin was pronounced guilty. Canada joined 28 countries in accepting the British accusation carte blanche, and expelling a total of 150 Russian diplomats in order to punish Putin’s regime.
Then there is the curious reluctance to label Minassian’s rampage of death in Toronto as a “terrorist attack.” Very shortly after his arrest, authorities were quick to declare that Minassian’s attack was not part of any wider threat to national security. Thus the headlines described the ‘incident’ as ‘horrific’ and ‘tragic.’ This was despite the fact that Minassian used the exact same modus operandi as the perpetrators of the April 2017 attack in Stockholm, Sweden, the June 2017 attack in London, England, the August 2017 attack in Barcelona, Spain, and the April 2018 attack in Muenster, Germany. In all of those cases, civilian vehicles were used as weapons, and in every case the media reported them to be actors of terrorism.
On October 20th, 2014, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Martin Couture-Rouleau drove his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring his unidentified comrade.
The Quebec police officers who gave chase to Couture-Rouleau did not have the same courageous restraint as Constable Lam. The suspect was shot and killed after he rolled his car during a high-speed chase. Given Couture-Rouleau’s past association with Islamic extremist groups, his attack was declared an act of terrorism.
Ditto for the case of 27-yr-old Ayanle Hassan Ali. On March 14th, 2016, a mentally distraught Ali entered a Canadian Forces recruiting center in Toronto. He managed to stab one soldier in the forearm with his knife, before being overpowered by other military personnel. He said at the scene, “Allah told me to come here to kill people.” That reference to Islamic extremism resulted in Ali being slapped with nine counts of terrorism related charges.
In June 2017, a similarly distraught 32-yr-old Rehab Dughmosh went bonkers in a Canadian Tire store in Toronto. According to witnesses, Dughmosh threatened customers with a golf club and a knife. Once she was subdued, Dughmosh claimed to be devoted to the Daesh (aka ISIS) evildoers. “I am pledged to the leader of the believers, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” she proclaimed in a courtroom, referencing the founder of Daesh. That pronouncement led to a total of 14 terrorism charges laid on her, for an attack that resulted in only one store employee receiving a slight injury.
On the flip side of this we have the unrepentant Islamophobe Alexandre Bissonnette, who went on a shooting spree at a Quebec Mosque in January 2017. Bissonnette killed six and wounded five when he launched his deadly fusillade during a prayer session. He pled guilty to six charges of first-degree murder, but he was never charged with committing an act of terrorism.
One can bet that if Minassian had yelled “Allahu Akbar” during his rampage of vehicular manslaughter, it would have instantly been labeled terrorism and the word “allegedly” would not have been used.