Canada: Man who mowed down Muslim family charged with terrorism

 Eva Deschamps / June 15, 2021

The alleged perpetrator of a car bomb attack that killed four members of a Muslim family in Canada on June 6 has been charged with terrorism, investigators and prosecutors said Monday.


The 20-year-old suspect, Nathaniel Veltman, appeared briefly Monday morning in court in London, the southern Ontario city where the June 6 shooting took place.


At an initial hearing last week, he had already been charged with four counts of premeditated murder and one count of attempted murder after the attack, which was called a terrorist act by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.


The federal and provincial Attorneys General have given their consent to initiate terrorism proceedings, alleging that the murders and attempted murders also constitute terrorist activity, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, federal police) said in a statement after the hearing.


The young man, who has no criminal record and no known affiliation with an extremist organization, said he does not have an attorney at this time. Veltman is scheduled to appear again at a hearing on June 21.


At the time of his arrest, he was wearing a vest-like jacket and a helmet.


According to London police, Veltman deliberately drove his pickup truck into the Afzaal family in a premeditated, planned, hate-motivated act.


Five members of the same family were killed while waiting to cross at an intersection in the city of London, 200 km southwest of Toronto. Both parents, their 15-year-old daughter and her grandmother were killed, but their 9-year-old son survived with serious injuries.


Little Fayez was able to leave the hospital and was taken care of by family members, several Canadian media revealed Monday.


The tragedy is the deadliest attack on Muslims in Canada since the Quebec City mosque shooting that killed six people in 2017. The perpetrator of the shooting, a Canadian supremacist, however, had not been charged with an act of terrorism.


The attack also led to a large outpouring of support and solidarity for the victims' relatives.


Two crowdsourced fundraising campaigns launched on crowdfunding platforms, notably to support little Fayez, had raised over two million Canadian dollars by Monday evening.

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