Toronto’s police chief said Wednesday that officials have found no evidence to support the ISIS claim of responsibility for Sunday’s mass shooting that killed two and injured 13, but the statement conflicts with reports that Canadian investigators believe the suspect visited ISIS websites and expressed support for the group.
Robert Spencer, who noted the discrepancy on his Jihad Watch site, has pointed out that ISIS influence typically takes the form of a call to Muslims worldwide to carry out specific types of terrorist attacks rather than direct contact.
A law-enforcement source told CBS News that along with visiting ISIS sites and expressing support, the suspect, Faisal Hussain, 29, may have lived at one time in Afghanistan and possibly Pakistan.
ISIS claimed, through its Amaq news agency, that one of its “soldiers” carried out the attack in response to its calls to target citizens of the U.S-led coalition fighting the jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq.
Hussain’s family has blamed mental illness for his actions. But Toronto Sun columnist Anthony Furey found that the family’s spokesman, Mohammed Hashim, is a “driving force” behind the Muslim Brotherhood-linked National Council of Canadian Muslims and has committed himself to “framing a new narrative of Muslims in Canada” and creating a “national political movement.”
A statement issued through Hashim said the family is “utterly devastated” by the news.
“Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life,” the family said, adding that professional treatment was unsuccessful.
At 10 p.m. Sunday night in Toronto’s Greektown area, wearing a ball cap and a dark, unbuttoned jacket, Hussain was seen on a surveillance camera, the National Post of Canada reported, walking “along the bustling sidewalk with purpose and pace — but no sign of frenzy.”
He glanced inside the Greek restaurant Caffé Demetres and “in a quick, fluid movement, pivoted towards the restaurant’s glow.” Then, in “a two-handed, straight-arm stance and without any noticeable pause, he opened fire at the crowd inside.”
It was not his first salvo of shots, nor the last, that night. Toronto police said that, in all, a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman died and 13 people were injured in a crime scene that stretched nearly 400 yards. Hussain died from a gunshot wound, but it’s unclear if a police officer shot him or he shot himself.
The National Post spoke with a friend of Hussain who said he showed no interest in religion.
Aamir Sukhera said he was “quiet, reserved, didn’t have a lot of friends, didn’t have a huge social circle.”
“But he was friendly, you know? So I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him. And I definitely never saw this coming. Never, ever would I imagine that he was capable. He was like a skinny kid, non-violent, never talking about violence or anything on those lines.”