Toronto man faces terrorism charge after woman dies in alleged on-street hammer attack

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A man accused of killing a 64-year-old woman in Toronto in an apparently random Friday hammer attack is now charged with a terrorism-related offence.

Hang-Kam Annie Chiu, the victim, was walking on the sidewalk along Sheppard Avenue East in the northeast end of the city when Saad Akhtar, 30, allegedly attacked her, according to Toronto police.

Akhtar turned himself in to police after the killing, and authorities charged him with first-degree murder. On Tuesday, however, prosecutors changed the charge to “first-degree murder — including terrorist activity.”

“During the investigation, evidence was discovered which led investigators to believe the homicide may have been a terrorist-related offence,” Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said.

When this evidence arose, Toronto police reached out to the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, an RCMP team that looks at terrorism cases. The murder charge was then upgraded.

Gray declined to discuss what prompted police to look to the terror-related charge given the matter is before the courts.

Sources reportedly told the Toronto Sun that a note was found under Chiu’s body stating that the random attack was committed for “terrorist reasons.”

Akhtar’s mother reportedly told Global News her son was studying computer programming part time at Ryerson University.

Global agreed not to name the woman, who said her son had been diagnosed with ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder, but was not capable of such a violent act.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family and to the communities that are affected by this horrific event,” Superintendent Christopher deGale of O Division said in a Tuesday afternoon release.

“Today’s announcement is a result of the good work that is done when the dedication of our members, the assistance of the public, and the involvement of our intelligence partners comes together to investigate an incident of national security. We will continue to support the Toronto Police Service as we remain focused on the safety and security of Canadians.”

University of Calgary law professor Michael Nesbitt tweeted that this is the first time he can think of that the specific charge of “murder — terrorist activity” has been used. He described it as a “way around the lone wolf problem.”

This article was originally posted here