Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stabbing at Canadian military recruitment center might be related to terrorism.

Toronto police chief Mark Saunders briefs the media. The Canadian Press.

A double stabbing at a Canadian military recruitment center is being investigated for possible links to terrorism. CBC. A 27 year old man entered the center and stabbed two members of the Canadian Armed Forces, before being subdued by several trained soldiers. The two victims were taken to the hospital and will most likely make a full recovery. The incident would have been worse if not for the quick action of the soldiers that subdued him. Media reports indicate that the suspect may have mentioned "Allah", which may have prompted the investigation into terror links. The incident appears to be isolated and there should be no further threat to the public. 

As I was writing this up the suspect has been identified as Ayanie Hassan Ali. CBC is also saying that the suspect said this when he was captured: "Allah told me to do this, Allah told me to come here and kill people." Ali is a Canadian born citizen. 

My Comment:
What's my take on this? It's probably too early to call this a terror attack. Even though it's clear that the suspect is Muslim, that doesn't mean that he is involved with any terrorist organization. It could be mental illness. When Ali said that Allah told him to do it, maybe he really thought that Allah did and he is actually just crazy. I don't think that is likely, but it's important to note the possibility. After all, it's not like Muslims are immune to mental illness. 

My guess is that this was a lone wolf terror attack though. Just like the Parliament shooting in 2014 some lone wolf was self radicalized and decided to attack someone. ISIS and other groups have called on Muslims throughout the world to attack people, especially soldiers and police, and it looks like Ali may have taken them up on that offer. He probably didn't have a partner or an explicit link to any terrorist groups, like ISIS, but he was most likely inspired by them. 

The sophistication level of this attack was pretty low. It doesn't seem like it was well planned or thought out. Simply walking into a building and stabbing the first people you see doesn't seem like the best way to pull off one of these attacks. Doing it in a building full of tough and strong soldiers seems like a fools errand. The only reason that Ali was able to stab anyone at all is because he probably caught the first two people off guard. Once that happened, he was quickly subdued. In short, this attacker is a moron and if this is the caliber of attackers that radical Islam can come up with, then we don't have much to worry about. 

I've mentioned before that the threat from these lone wolf attacks isn't anywhere near the threat of actual planned terrorist attacks. That's mostly because these people are either stupid, mentally ill, or some combination of both. The level of planning just isn't there, so unless the attacker gets lucky, these attacks mostly just end in a few people getting wounded. That's little comfort for the people hurt or killed in these attacks though. And it is always possible that an attacker can get lucky...

The other problem is that these lone wolf attackers divert attention and resources away from the more serious terrorists that actually put a bit more effort into their attacks. For every moron that tries to stab a couple of people, there might be another one building a bomb or practicing with a rifle. The resources that are going to be used to investigate and prosecute Ali could have been used elsewhere in Canada. 

This attack went about as well as these kinds of attacks can go. It seems as nobody died and the suspect was captured alive so he can be interrogated. Though this feels like a lone wolf terror attack, it's very possible that Ali was in contact with people via the internet who encouraged him or gave him advice. There is a tiny chance that Ali was part of a larger cell, but I view that as an extremely remote possibility. Either way though, the Canadian soldiers that stopped this attack should be commended for their actions. Stopping a man with a knife in a place soldiers should feel safe is a brave act, and these soldiers did a great job stopping this before it got bad. 

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