Canadian Security Magazine

Terrorism in Canada: A timeline of plots, attacks, and allegations

The Canadian Press   

News terrorism

Four members of a Muslim family are dead and one child is in hospital after a hit-and-run in London, Ont., Sunday, in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an act of terrorism.

Police said 20-year-old Nathaniel Veltman intentionally drove a truck into the family who was out for a walk on Sunday evening and he targeted them because of their faith. Veltman now faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He did not know the victims.

Police have not released the names of the victims, but a statement released by the family identifies them as Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother.

The couple’s nine-year-old son Fayez was seriously injured but is expected to survive.


Through the years, Canada has seen terrorism cases and allegations, as well as cases in which politicians or legislatures were attacked or such assaults were allegedly plotted.

June 6, 2021: The driver of a pickup truck struck three adults and two children, all members of the same Muslim family, in London, Ont. One person died at the scene and three others died in hospital, while a nine-year-old boy was seriously injured. Police said the family was targeted because of their faith and London Mayor Ed Holder called the attack “an act of mass murder.”

April 23, 2018: Then-25-year-old Alek Minassian deliberately drove a rental van down the sidewalk of Yonge Street in Toronto. He killed 10 people that day, including eight women, and injured 16 others, many of them catastrophically. In 2021, a judge found Minassian guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. He argued he should not be held criminally responsible for his actions due to his autism spectrum disorder, but the judge disagreed.

Jan. 29, 2017: Six people were killed and eight were injured in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Quebec premier Philippe Couillard called it a terrorist attack. Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder. In February 2019, Bissonnette was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 40 years. That sentence was reduced to 25 years in 2020 due to a Quebec Court of Appeal decision. The Supreme Court of Canada is set to review the sentencing.

Aug. 10, 2016: Police shoot and kill terror suspect Aaron Driver in Strathroy, Ont., after he made a video that suggested he was planning to detonate a homemade bomb in a Canadian urban centre during morning or afternoon rush hour. Driver detonated an explosive device in a taxi cab before police killed him.

Oct. 22, 2014: Parliament Hill security and police shoot and kill Michael Zehaf-Bibeau after he killed Canadian soldier Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and then stormed the Parliament Buildings.

Oct. 20, 2014: Quebec police shoot and kill Martin Couture-Rouleau after he threatens a female officer with a knife. Couture-Rouleau was wanted for running down warrant officer Patrice Vincent and another soldier in Saint Jean sur Richelieu. Vincent died of his injuries.

2013: Two people were arrested and charged with conspiring to blow up the British Columbia legislative building in the midst of Canada Day festivities. In 2018, John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were cleared of terror charges due to RCMP entrapment. Their lawyer says the pair are allowed to live freely after prosecutors dropped a bid to restrict their movements.

2013: Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were charged in connection with a plot — allegedly guided by al-Qaida in Iran — to attack a Via Rail/Amtrak passenger train that runs between Toronto and New York City. Both were found guilty in 2015 of terror-related charges. They appealed their convictions and in 2019 the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a fresh trial for the men on grounds the jury was chosen incorrectly. However, the Crown successfully argued in a Supreme Court hearing last fall the convictions should not be overturned on the basis of an error in the jury-selection process that did not deny the men fair trial rights.

2010: Police made three arrests in an alleged plot to commit acts of terror on Canadian soil. Misbahuddin Ahmed of Ottawa was convicted of two terrorism-related offences in July 2014. Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh pleaded guilty in September to possessing explosives with an intent to do harm and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. The third man arrested was acquitted of conspiring to facilitate terrorism.

2009: Software engineer Momin Khawaja, the first person charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act, was convicted for his role in a plot to plant fertilizer bombs in the United Kingdom. Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence, has denied the charges.

2006: Police in Toronto arrested a large group of young men who later became known as the Toronto 18. They are accused of plotting to bomb targets including the Toronto Stock Exchange, CSIS headquarters and a military base. Eleven were ultimately convicted of terrorist offences. In January 2010, one of the men, Zakaria Amara of Mississauga, Ont., was sentenced to life in prison. Fellow suspect Saad Gaya from Oakville, Ont., was sentenced to 12 years.

1995: Quebec sovereignty supporter Andre Dallaire entered the prime minister’s residence at 24 Sussex Drive while Jean Chretien and his wife were sleeping. He confronted Aline Chretien at the bedroom door. She summoned Mounties while the prime minister snatched up an Inuit sculpture in case the intruder crashed the door. Dallaire was found guilty of attempted murder but was found not be criminally responsible because of his mental state.

1985: An Air India flight that departed from the Vancouver airport exploded in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 329 people on board. Two Canadians were tried for the bombing but were ultimately acquitted of mass murder. Only one conviction has been obtained in the case. Inderjit Singh Reyat, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case, was convicted of perjury in 2010.

1984: Three people were killed when Canadian Army supply clerk Denis Lortie opened fire inside the National Assembly in Quebec City in a bid to “destroy” Premier Rene Levesque. Lortie was convicted of first-degree murder after his first trial in 1985 but a new trial was ordered because of errors by the judge. In 1987, he pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder, allowing him to be eligible for parole after 10 years.

1970: The October Crisis begins as the Front de Liberation du Quebec kidnaps British diplomat James Cross and, later, Labour Minister Pierre Laporte. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act, which allows the government to temporarily suspend civil liberties. Cross is released 60 days later but Laporte is found dead.

1966: Paul Joseph Chartier, an unemployed Toronto security guard with emotional problems, blew himself up with a bomb in a washroom down the hall from the public gallery of the House of Commons. His notes suggested he planned to throw his bomb onto the floor of the chamber.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2021.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2021.

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