Canada mosque attacker sentenced to 8 years

TRENTON, Canada 

A man who attacked a mosque in the Toronto area with an axe and planned mass casualties was sentenced to eight years in prison Tuesday.

Armed with bear spray and an axe, Mohammad Moiz Omar entered the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, where about 30 worshippers were performing early morning prayers on March 19, 2022. He was stopped before he was able to inflict serious harm on congregants.

According to a court agreed statement of facts, Omar “intended to perpetrate a mass casualty event,” and he was inflamed with an intense hatred and desire to intimidate Muslims. He believed Islam is “an intolerant and violent religion.”

On July 19, Omar pleaded guilty to three charges: administrating a noxious substance (bear spray) with the intent to cause bodily harm, assault with a weapon, and mischief to religious property. He also agreed that the attack constituted terrorist activity. He was 24 years old at the time of the attack.

During the July 19 hearing, the mosque’s imam, Ibrahim Hindy, said the attack was horrific.

“This was not someone having a bad day or having a mental health episode,” Hindy told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “This was someone who planned out clearly what he wanted to do and how he wanted to kill Muslims,” Hindy said. “I’m only grateful that our congregation was able to stop him before he was able to ultimately harm someone.”

Congregants were able to wrestle Omar to the floor. No one was seriously injured, although one person was kicked in the stomach and several were affected by the bear spray. Damage to the mosque was estimated at CAN$16,000 (US$12,140). Omar told police he was a Muslim but was now an atheist.

Omar’s lawyer and the Crown prosecution agreed on an eight-year sentence at the July 19 hearing, and Tuesday the judge agreed. With credit for time already served in custody, Omar will be imprisoned for slightly more than five years. He will be eligible for parole in half that time. ​​​​​​​

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