Muslim group ‘beyond horrified’ by terrifying details of Mississauga mosque attack

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Published July 21, 2023 at 5:14 pm

Mississauga Mosque

Officials with Canada’s largest Muslim advocacy group are calling for a harsh prison sentence and action from all levels of government to ensure a 2022 terror attack on a Mississauga mosque that left them “beyond horrified” never happens again.

Appearing in Ontario Superior Court in Brampton on Wednesday (July 19), Mohammad Moiz Omar, 25, pleaded guilty to three criminal offences in connection with the March 19, 2022 attack inside the Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre on McAdam Rd., near Matheson Blvd. E. and Kennedy Rd. S.

According to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC), which prosecutes federal offences, Omar pleaded guilty to:

  • administering a noxious thing (bear spray) with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm
  • assault with a weapon (hatchet)
  • mischief to religious property with the motivation of bias, prejudice or hate based on religion

Under Canada’s Criminal Code, the offences also constitute terrorist activity.

Omar will be sentenced on Tuesday (July 25).

In an agreed statement of facts filed in court, Omar admitted that he entered the mosque early on the Saturday morning armed with a hatchet and bear spray and intended to kill those inside in what would be the culmination of an attack he had planned for about a year.

Court heard Omar was motivated by a hateful ideology, and the attack was aimed at intimidating a segment of the public, namely Muslim Canadians.

Additionally in the statement of facts, it was revealed that Omar had thought “of other ways to commit his attack” and that he had made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain a gun prior to March 19, 2022.

He also made statements to police after his arrest “expressing his hatred for Muslims and his disappointment at having failed to inflict any real harm on the victims,” a PPSC news release issued on July 19 reads.

Several other agreed-upon facts revealed in court, according to the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which attended the proceedings, include:

  • the attacker had the Christchurch, New Zealand killer manifesto on his computer and sympathized with Alexandre Bissonnette, the Quebec City Mosque murderer
  • the man enjoyed seeing an online video of a Muslim woman being shot
  • the attacker had other targets in mind, but was not able to carry them out
  • the attacker considered using a flamethrower to burn the congregants alive

“Given the above facts, we are beyond horrified,” said Steven Zhou, spokesperson for NCCM, in a news release. “This individual deserves to see a significant custodial sentence. Just as importantly, we need to see action from all levels of government taken so that we ensure that this kind of violence never happens again.”

The Ottawa-based advocacy group added the fallout from the attack is still being felt.

“There were children, young people and elders in the congregation, some of whom continue to bear significant physical and mental trauma from the attack,” the group said in its release. “Had it not been for the brave actions of the congregants who subdued the attacker, there could have been much more serious injury.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said via social media this week that Omar’s guilty plea “…brings us one step closer to justice being served.”

The initial investigation of the mosque attack was conducted by Peel Regional Police and the RCMP.

Shortly after the incident, which unfolded on a Saturday morning just before 7 a.m., investigators reported that a man brandishing a hatchet had entered the mosque and discharged bear spray toward members of the congregation.

A number of the worshippers were hailed as heroes after they tackled and subdued the armed attacker and held him for police.

It was reported by insauga.com at the time that a group of about 20 men were in the middle of a dawn prayer when they were approached by the armed man.

Several victims suffered minor injuries as a result of the bear spray.

A number of children were also reportedly inside the mosque at the time of the attack.

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