An Islamist terrorist attack in Toronto is going all but ignored by city police and most Canadian news outlets.
A woman wearing the full-face Islamic veil and an Islamic State-type flag as a bandana shouted “Allahu Akbar” and began swinging a golf club at employees and a customer late Saturday afternoon at a Canadian Tire big-box hardware store. She also shouted death threats and support for the Islamic State.
When employees and customers tried to restrain her, the woman pulled a large knife from her clothing. “The store employee [who wrestled the knife out of her hand] sustained non-life-threatening injuries,” police later said.
In court Tuesday, the woman again appeared in a niqab (face veil) and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). When asked her name, she said through an Arabic interpreter, “ISIS — I pledge to the leader of the believers, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
The woman, whose name is actually Rahab Dughmosh, was charged with two counts of assault with a weapon, uttering death threats and weapons offenses.
Earlier Saturday afternoon, Dughmosh, 32 and from Toronto, stopped at a neighbor’s apartment to drop off a parcel, the Toronto Sun reported.
“Five Qurans with a sealed letter inside one,” the neighbor, Noshaba Raheel, said. Dughmosh asked Raheel to “hold on to them” and said she “would be back soon.”
Dughmosh’s husband and their two small children left the house with luggage the next day, Raheel also told the paper.
Toronto police said nothing on Saturday about the attack. Three days later, on Tuesday afternoon, after the Sun got wind of what happened, police issued a skeleton news release saying nothing about the niqab, the ISIS bandana or the common jihadi cry of “Allahu Akbar.”
“There is no need for the public to be concerned about safety in any way, shape or form,” Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said late Tuesday. “It was a very isolated situation.”
Canada’s joint terrorism task force, the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, seems to be taking the matter more seriously.
“When somebody is wearing ISIS markings and yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ while swinging a golf club… you have to do everything necessary and treat it as a terror attack,” a source close to the team told the Sun.
“No stone will be left unturned in her life,” an unnamed officer from the team also said, “her family, her computer and phone, the state of her mental health, where she worships and her past travel.”
Canada’s two Toronto-based national newspapers, The Globe and Mail and National Post, carried stories on a man wielding a hammer Tuesday at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The man shouted, “This is for Syria!” On the Toronto attack, The Globe and Mail has said nothing. The National Post ran three paragraphs, lifted from its sister publication the Sun.
Similarly, CBC television and radio have remained silent on the attack, although the CBC’s website covered the court appearance.
The Toronto Star carried a brief story with the headline, “Toronto woman charged with assault at Scarborough mall.” (The attack took place at Cedarbrae Mall in the city’s east end.)
The Star suppressed all references to ISIS, including Dughmosh’s court statement. “When asked to identify herself for the record, she instead made reference in Arabic to ‘the leader of the believers,’” the paper said.
Almost all details reaching the public come from the Toronto Sun, but even in its coverage, with the exception of the neighbor, only nameless, faceless “sources” appear.
Where Dughmosh is from, who she knew, where she prayed, who her husband is, where she lives, who the injured person is and how badly the person is hurt — none of the usual questions are answered.
The judge issued a publication ban on most of the details of her court appearance. Exceptions included Dughmosh’s decision to waive her right to a bail hearing and the fact that until her case is dealt with, she elected to stay in jail.