Victims of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif are speaking out about their trauma and the years of recovery ahead, as an Alberta court considers the fate of the refugee-turned-terrorist.
Sharif is accused of carrying out a heinous ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in the fall of 2017.
Kim O’Hara, one of Sharif’s victims, recalled her first moments in the hospital to the court last week.
“The next thing I can recall from that night was laying on a bed with bright lights and people surrounding me. Past them I could see my boyfriend… looking very worried,” she said.
“I was ripping off whatever was attached to me. The nurses held me down and it went black.”
Sharif is alleged to have gone on a terror rampage in September 2017, first ramming his car into Edmonton police constable Mike Chernyk, then stabbing him multiple times and later of intentionally plowing a rental truck through pedestrian walkways and running over four people.
The flag of the terrorist group ISIS was found in the truck by police.
Sharif is on trial for five counts of attempted murder and is pleading not guilty.
O’Hara says it took over a week in the hospital for her to understand what had really happened to her.
“When people were talking to me, it was like a different language, not English,” she said.
“I didn’t know what was wrong. I just knew I was hurt.”
O’Hara’s mental health has also been negatively impacted since the terror attack, she told the court.
“In the last two years, I have been struggling with anxiety, depression and many negative thoughts,” she said.
“And it took me a long time to ask for help when I became suicidal.”
Jordan Stewardson also testified in court with O’Hara, recalling the first moments after Sharif hit her, O’Hara, and two other pedestrians.
“I thought it was an ambulance at first. I was thinking why is this vehicle coming off the road? Why is it not slowing down?” she said
After the attack, Stewardson woke up on the ground.
“I remember my chin feeling cold. I touched it and I was bleeding. I remember my chest hurting, my back, my elbows.”
Stewart says she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, affecting her personal life and her lifestyle.
“I’ve ruined relationships because of it. It’s a constant battle every day,” she told the court.
“It’s like a vicious circle. I get mad I can’t do things at the gym. Every day I get triggers of what happened.”
Sharif was ordered deported to his native Somalia after he illegally entered the United States in 2011. Instead, he fled U.S. custodies and crossed illegally into Canada. In 2012, Canada accepted Sharif as a refugee despite his rejection by the United States.
In 2015, a former coworker reported Sharif to the police out of fear he was a supporter of ISIS, claiming he had a history of violent outbursts and radical beliefs. After an investigation, the RCMP deemed he was “not a threat.”
Earlier this year American congressmen penned a letter asking that more be done to address the gaps in the system that allowed Sharif to enter Canada.
“More than one year has passed since the attack, and it appears there has been no comprehensive study of the incident,” the letter said.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responded by saying his government had done all they could have done.