Police: Two Canadian military members stabbed; attacker said Allah told him to target troops

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Ayanle Hassan Ali, a 27-year-old man accused of stabbing at least one Canadian military member Monday, allegedly told police after the assault, "Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people," Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday.

Ayanle Hassan Ali, a 27-year-old man accused of stabbing at least one Canadian military member Monday, allegedly told police after the assault, “Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people,” Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday.

(CNN) — A man accused of injuring two Canadian military members in a knife attack at a Toronto recruiting center allegedly said afterward that Allah told him to do it, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said Tuesday.

” ‘Allah told me to do this. Allah told me to come here and kill people,’ ” suspect Ayanie Hassan Ali said Monday at the center, according to Saunders.

Ali, a 27-year-old Canadian citizen, was detained after injuring two troops — slashing at least one with a knife — after walking into a recruitment center in a federal building in Toronto on Monday afternoon, Saunders said.

Ali faces charges including one count of attempted murder, two counts of assault with a weapon and one count of aggravated assault, Saunders said. He is due in court at 2 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Investigators still are trying to determine whether the attack was terrorism or simply criminal, Saunders said. Terrorism is a possibility “because certain comments were made … but there needs to be more to support,” the chief said.

Investigators have no information that Ali made the attack in concert with any other person or an organization, Saunders said.

“You can’t just do it (conclude it was terrorism) on one statement made. There needs to be more,” he said, adding that federal investigators also are checking Ali, who was born in Montreal and has lived in Toronto since 2011.

The attack

The attack, Saunders said, began around 3 p.m. Monday when Ali walked into the recruiting center, struck a uniform-wearing master corporal who was behind a table, and then slashed him with a knife in the upper right arm.

Ali then tried to slash a female service member in uniform, but she “managed to escape unscathed,” Saunders said.

The man then walked toward the rear of the center, where other employees in uniform were. A second man was stabbed as troops subdued the suspect, police said.

Two military members were taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and were later released, according to Saunders.

During the attack, military staff members ushered civilian applicants to a safe area, the chief said.

The investigation, and past attacks on military in Canada

Saunders said he had no information about Ali’s religious activities or travel, if any. He said that he wasn’t sure where Ali’s relatives lived and that investigators would examine his residence once they get authorization.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said his office is monitoring the situation.

In October 2014, Canadian troops were targets of two fatal attacks on home soil, just days apart.

First, a “radicalized” convert to Islam drove into two members of the Canadian armed forces who had been walking in a strip mall parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, killing one of them, Canadian authorities said.

That driver, who police later shot to death, had expressed support online for the Islamist terror group ISIS and may have been responding to an ISIS spokesman’s call to arms, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

Two days later, a Canadian soldier was gunned down while standing guard at a war memorial in the capital of Ottawa.

Officials alleged the gunman, who was killed when he stormed into Parliament shortly afterward, had jihadist ties.