Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Picture of the Courthouse in London Ontario. Source: Google Maps
A man who used his vehicle to kill a Muslim family deliberately has been found guilty by a jury on Thursday.
Nathaniel Veltman, a 22-year-old man from London, ON, is guilty of the murder of Salman Afzaal, Madiha Afzaal, Talat Afzaal, and Yumnah Afzaal. A nine-year-old boy, who cannot be named due to his age, was injured in the attack.
Veltman has been convicted on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. In June 2021, he used his pickup truck to drive into the Afzaal family. While he pled not guilty, the jury came back with their verdict after six hours of deliberation.
According to CTV, during his closing arguments to the 10-week trial, Veltman’s lawyer, Christopher Hicks, asked for the jury to consider lesser charges of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Over the course of the trial, it was revealed that Veltman had penned a manifesto, titled "A White Awakening." According to the CBC, only portions of the document were allowed to be heard in court. Parts of it are reported to contain excerpts from Christchurch, New Zealand shooter Brenton Tarrant’s screed that he released online. Excerpts from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf appeared 12 times in Veltman’s manifesto. Police reported finding a copy in his apartment.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims issued a statement shortly after the verdict stating they are relieved that “justice has been served” and that the case will serve to steer the community toward healing.
“The attack that happened over two years ago changed Canadian Muslims’ relationship with their country,” said NCCM Chief Operating Officer Omar Khamissa in the statement. “For the first time for many of us, we felt unsafe and targeted just for walking down the street.”
A sentencing hearing will be held on Dec. 1. Justice Renee Pomerance will decide on that date if the case reaches the threshold for terrorism.
In the last six years, Canada has seen multiple attacks that included an ideological motivation or by individuals otherwise involved with the far-right. In 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette killed six and injured eight worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City. Bissonnette regularly railed against Muslim people online, and reports say he was inspired after seeing a speech by the French, anti-immigration politician, Marine Le Pen.
Alek Minassian rented a van and drove it down a busy Toronto sidewalk in April 2018. Minassian, who posted a message in support of the involuntary celibate (incel) movement just before his attack, killed 10 people and injured 15 others.
A 17-year-old boy who attacked a massage parlour in 2020 fatally stabbed Ashley Noell Arzaga, and injured two others, also identified as an incel, claiming to have drawn inspiration from Minassian when talking to police. He was found guilty of murder and the act was determined to be an "incel-ideologically motivated terrorist activity.”
This is a developing story, we will continue to update.