The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a deadly mass shooting in Toronto, saying the attacker was a “soldier” who answered the group’s call to target citizens of Western countries.
The suspect, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, killed two people and injured 12 others on Sunday night in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood. He was killed after an exchange of gunfire with responding police officers.
Hussain “carried out the attack in response to the call to target citizens of coalition nations,” ISIS said in a statement posted to its Amaq news agency. The statement refers to the U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS, which is battling the remnants of the terror group in Syrian and Iraq.
The phrasing of the statement invokes a 2014 speech by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, an ISIS spokesman, who encouraged the group’s supporters around the world to carry out attacks in their cities. The statement suggests ISIS views Hussain as someone who was inspired by its propaganda, but not directly trained as a fighter, according to New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi.
“They are essentially saying that Faisal Hussain, the 29-year-old who opened fire, was self-radicalized,” Callimachi, an ISIS expert, wrote on Twitter. “The same formulation was used in the ISIS claims for other well-known inspired attacks around the world including the Nice attack which left 86 people dead & injured 458.”
Although Canadian police have not publicly confirmed any ties to terror, reports have emerged that Hussain showed interest in ISIS before his shooting rampage. He had visited ISIS websites and may have expressed support for the group, CBS News and the Toronto Sun reported, citing law enforcement sources. (RELATED: Report: Toronto Shooter Showed ‘Support’ For Pro-ISIS Website)
Police had reportedly detained Hussain twice over concerns about his mental health, Canada’s Global News reported Tuesday. Those concerns date back to 2010, according to the Global News report.
In a statement released after the shooting, Hussain’s family said he had severe mental health problems, but relatives “could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.”
On Tuesday, police identified the shooting victims as 18-year-old Reese Fallon, a recent high school graduate, and Julianna Kozis, who was just 10 years old.
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