Canadian Man Found Guilty in First Murder Trial Involving Terrorism Motive and White Supremacy

Memorial near the site where a man driving a pickup truck struck and killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, in Canada

A Canadian man, Nathaniel Veltman, 22, has been found guilty of four counts of first-degree or premeditated murder and one count of attempted murder in Canada’s first murder trial involving a terrorism motive related to white supremacy. Veltman acknowledged using his truck to run down the Afzaal family, who were out for a walk in London, Ontario, in June 2021. The attack resulted in the deaths of three generations of the family and left a young boy orphaned.

During the trial, the prosecution argued that Veltman was motivated by white supremacist ideology and intended to intimidate or terrorize Muslims. The defense claimed that Veltman had experienced a mental decline but did not meet the requirements for an insanity plea. They argued that his actions were a result of extreme confusion caused by consuming hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms.

Imam Abdul Fattah Twakkal, speaking outside the courthouse, described the verdict as a monumental step in the fight against hate and Islamophobia. He emphasized the need for further work to prevent radicalization. Tabinda Bukhari, the mother of one of the adult victims, expressed profound grief and trauma caused by the loss of multiple generations of her family. She found some solace in the verdict.

The jury heard that Veltman had written a “terrorist manifesto” espousing white nationalism and expressing his hatred for Muslims. He was described as dressing like a soldier, wearing body armor, a helmet, and a “crusader T-shirt” with a red cross. The Crown attorney argued that Veltman deliberately targeted Muslims and sought to send a message against Muslim immigration.

Veltman turned his truck around and accelerated towards the Afzaal family, jumping the curb and striking them. The victims’ bodies were thrown into the air, resulting in the deaths of Salman Afzaal, Madiha Salman, Yumnah Afzaal, and Talat Afzaal. A nine-year-old boy, orphaned by the attack, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

The defense attributed Veltman’s actions to a combination of mental disorders, childhood traumas, and drug use, which left him feeling detached from reality. The attack two years ago had a profound impact on Canadian Muslims, who felt unsafe and targeted for simply walking down the street, according to Omar Khamissa, head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Former federal minister Omar Alghabra highlighted the case as an example of how hateful words can lead to radicalization and deadly violence. Defense lawyer Christopher Hicks stated that Veltman was in shock after the verdict, knowing he faces a potential sentence of 25 years in jail without parole. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for December 1.

This incident marks the deadliest anti-Muslim attack in Canada since the 2017 shooting at a mosque in Quebec City, which resulted in six deaths. The perpetrator of that shooting was not accused of terrorism.

Memorial near the site where a man driving a pickup truck struck and killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, in Canada

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

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