‘It’s not him’: Questions raised about mental health of Canadian military stabbing suspect

By Tamara Khandaker
VICE News Canada | March 15, 2016

The suspect who allegedly cited Allah during a double stabbing at a Toronto military recruitment center was a calm and religious person, according to one friend, who said Ayanle Hassan Ali struggled to cope with an ill mother, and would only leave home to get groceries or go to a mosque.

« I don’t know what his mom was diagnosed with, but she was pretty sick, » Amolak Grewal told VICE News in an interview, hours after Ali, 27, was charged in a violent attack that injured two Canadian soldiers on Monday.

Amarnath Amarasingam, a Toronto-based researcher on jihadism and foreign fighters, said he spoke with a close family friend on Tuesday who told him Ali’s mother suffered from a mental illness — a fact that appeared to affect Ali deeply, and led him to abandon his engineering studies at the University of Calgary.

Amarasingam said the family believes Ali, himself, may have had his own mental health issues.

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The National Council of Canadian Muslims also called the attacks « reprehensible » and urged authorities to investigate the motivation at its root, and examine the perpetrator’s mental state.

« We also would like to thank Toronto police chief Mark Saunders for advising the public against allowing this incident to lead to Islamphobia and anti-Muslim retribution, » director Ihsaan Gardee wrote in a statement. « It is critical that both media and politicians are clear to distance the acts of this alleged criminal from the wider community. The vast majority of Canadian Muslims, like their fellow citizens of all faiths and backgrounds, abhor violence and condemn any and all criminal acts committed in the name of their faith. »

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