In judicial first, Canada judge says truck attacker committed terrorism

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 10:27 AM

OTTAWA (Reuters) – A Canadian judge on Thursday said that a white nationalist who deliberately ran over and killed four members of a Muslim family in 2021 had committed terrorism, the first ruling of its kind, media reported.

Nathaniel Veltman, 23, was found guilty of first-degree murder in November for an attack that shocked Canada. He faces life in prison.

“I find the offender’s actions constitute terrorist activity,” media outlets cited Justice Renee Pomerance as saying as she began to pronounce her formal sentence, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

It marked the first time that an incidence of white nationalist violence in Canada had been deemed a terrorist act.

Veltman, driving a pick-up truck, deliberately ran over five members of the Afzaal family, originally from Pakistan, in the Ontario town of London when they were out for an evening walk in June 2021.

The victims were Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their 15-year-old daughter Yumnah, and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother Talat.

The couple’s nine-year-old son suffered serious injuries. Shortly after the assault, Veltman said: “I did it. I killed those people.”

Veltman pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder. His defense, citing what it called Veltman’s mental challenges, said the actions amounted to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Ismail Shakil; Editing by Josie Kao)