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ISIS-praising Edmonton van attacker sentenced to 28 years in prison

Abdulahi Sharif was able to avoid terrorism charges despite his prior praise of the Islamic State and investigators discovering an ISIS flag in his vehicle.

The 32-year old man responsible for mowing down four pedestrians and brutally attacking one Edmonton police officer has been sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Justice Paul Belzil passed down the sentence on Friday, December 14, 2019. In October, a jury found Abdulahi Sharif guilty of 11 charges, five of which were attempted murder. 

While in court, Sharif showed very little emotion and provided no defence for his crimes.

Sharif was able to avoid terrorism charges despite his prior praise of the Islamic State and investigators discovering an ISIS flag in his vehicle. However, the flag was never called as evidence by Crown prosecutors during the trial. 

“As Crowns, it’s our job to look at what is relevant to the charges before the court. And in this case we called evidence that was relevant to the charges we had and the jury convicted on all the counts,” said Crown prosecutor Elizabeth Wheaton. 

On September 30, 2017, Sharif struck Constable Michael Chernyk with his car and then attacked him with a knife while he was on the ground by stabbing him in the side of his head.

Sharif then proceeded to get into a U-Haul truck and hunted down four pedestrians.

Several years prior to the attack, Sharif was reported to the authorities by a coworker in 2015, who alleged that Shaif held “genocidal beliefs” including a hatred for Shia Muslims and holding ISIS in high regard. While Sharif was investigated by Canadian authorities, they had found no reason for concern at the time.

Sharif, originally from Mogadishu, Somalia, entered the United States through Mexico in early 2011. While in the United States, he was apprehended by immigration authorities and ordered for deportation. 

Sharif made his way to the Canadian border and crossed into Ontario where he claimed refugee status. Shortly after, he was granted refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. 

As True North founder Candice Malcolm pointed out in 2017, several red-flags were ignored, including the United States’ deportation order and Sharif’s beliefs about terrorism. According to internal emails, immigration officials were considering Malcolm’s criticisms when discussing media coverage which was critical of the country’s screening system.

American politicians have raised the alarm over the attack and called upon the United States government to review the circumstances which led to Sharif’s entry into the United States and subsequently Canada. 

Former Republican Representative Trey Gowdy penned a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling on them to look into the “vulnerabilities” which eventually led to the attack.

“The Committee is deeply concerned the vulnerabilities existing in 2011 which allowed this individual to enter, be released, and transit through the U.S. may still exist today, said Gowdy. 

“More than one year has passed since the attack, and it appears there has been no comprehensive study of the incident.”

At the same time, the Canadian government claims they took all steps to screen Sharif.

“There was no information about him that would have raised any red flags,” former Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said.

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