A man who allegedly threatened one person with a knife and slashed another person’s throat on a bus in B.C. is facing four terrorism charges, according to federal authorities.
Court documents provided by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada show that Abdu Aziz Kawam has been charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm, and assault with a weapon. The charging documents say that all four offences are alleged to have been “for the benefit of at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group; to wit, the Islamic State.”
Kawan made his first court appearance by video Monday, sitting in front of a white wall dressed in a prison-issue jumpsuit and showing little emotion. A publication ban is in place preventing the details of the hearing from being reported.
“I can tell you that the information was relayed that this morning alleging that Mr. Kawan committed four acts for the benefit of a terrorist group,” said Crown prosecutor Sharon Steele following the hearing.
The alleged offences took place in Surrey on the morning of April 1.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police said a suspect first approached a man at a bus stop and held a knife to his throat around 9:30 a.m. That man managed to flee without being injured, spokesperson Const. Amanda Steed told CTV News.
Shortly after, the suspect boarded the 503 bus and attacked a second victim, slashing his throat. The victim was critically injured but survived emergency surgery and is expected to recover, according to Steed.
In an email Monday, Steed confirmed that the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team was called in.
“During the course of our investigation, it was determined that the suspect made several concerning comments,’ Steed wrote, explaining the move.
A statement from the BC RCMP confirmed the charges and the allegations the alleged assaults were “carried out for the Islamic State,” while saying no further information will be released.
“We remain committed to uncovering all the facts relating to this disturbing and unprovoked assault, and value the work and collaboration from our policing partners, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police and Surrey RCMP,” wrote Supt. David Teboul, acting deputy criminal operations officer in charge of federal policing branch in B.C.
B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth made a brief comment on the case Monday, saying he is confident that federal authorities are “very much on top of it.”
Kawam remains in custody and is next due in court Wednesday.