A man charged with four first-degree murder counts and attempted murder a week ago in the truck attack on a Muslim family in London, Ont., now faces terror charges.
Nathaniel Veltman, 20, made a video appearance Monday, when federal and provincial prosecutors announced the two terror charges.
On June 6, Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were killed after a pickup truck jumped a curb and ran into them. The youngest member of the family, nine-year-old Fayez, is still recovering in hospital. Investigators have said the family was targeted because of their faith.
The new charges against the London resident were announced two days after a funeral that drew thousands to a mosque in the southwestern Ontario city for the public portion of the memorial.
In what was supposed to be a routine court appearance from the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre, Veltman wore an oversized orange T-shirt and orange pants, and a blue mask. He told the judge he has not yet retained a lawyer.
Sarah Shaikh, from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), told the accused: “Mr. Veltman, you are now charged with four counts of first-degree murder. In addition to the allegation that these murders were planned and deliberate, the further allegation is that they also constitute terrorism.”
The clerk formally read out the murder and attempted murder charges to Veltman, including the names of the deceased. When he was charged June 7, those names were not available.
Prosecutors also signed a document supporting the terror charges.
‘No further known or suspected threat’
London police worked with the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), the Ministry of the Attorney General and PPSC to determine Veltman should be charged with terrorist activity.
“The London Police Service and RCMP INSET wish to reassure the public that there is no further known or suspected threat to the public associated to the accused at this time,” the city’s police service said in a news release.
“The investigation is ongoing and will continue to be a collaborative effort between the London Police Service and RCMP INSET.”
The release also encourages the public to report anyone who has witnessed or is aware of “any criminal extremism and/or suspicious activities which could pose a threat to public safety and/or national security.”
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, terrorism is an indictable offence under the Anti-terrorism Act, which includes behaviour intended to intimidate the public or a segment of the public, in whole or part for political, religious or ideological reasons.
The Afzaal family were out for an evening walk in northwest London when a black truck left the road and drove into them as they were waiting to cross at a red light. It marked the first mass killing in the city’s history, in a case that has caused fear in the Muslim community.
Police say the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith.
Since the fatal hit-and-run, there has been an outpouring of cross-country grief and a call for a national summit on Islamophobia.