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Group tied to Islamic State plotted fatal Ontario restaurant shooting: Crown

A gunman who is accused of killing a young Ontario man and shooting four of his family members at their small Mississauga restaurant in 2021 was allegedly part of a trio who had pledged allegiance to the listed terrorist group Islamic State, a Crown attorney said in an opening statement in the Brampton murder trial this week.

The victim, 25-year-old Naim Akl, became a target when he realized the loyalties of the group, which operated a warehouse business in the Greater Toronto Area, and planned to go to Canadian authorities, said Crown Attorney David D’Iorio.

“They weren’t just buying and selling products. They had pledged allegiance to ISIS, the Islamic State, and money was being used to finance that organization — sent back home to further that cause,” D’Iorio said in his address to the jury this week.

“You will hear evidence that Naim Akl had become aware that… the group had pledged allegiance to ISIS,” he said. “He was planning to go the authorities and betray the others. It’s our position that the others came up with a plan to prevent that from happening: a plan to kill Naim Akl and his family.”

D’Iorio identified the gunman as Anand Nath, Suliman Raza as the getaway driver, following Naqash Abassi’s orders. All three are charged with one count of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. The charges have not been proven in court.

Also known as ISIS, Daesh or ISIL, the Islamic State is listed as a terrorist group in Canada, and has claimed responsibility for a variety of attacks with a goal of creating a worldwide caliphate.

D’Iorio said that Akl had converted to Islam without telling his parents, who would not approve, and started working for Abassi’s warehouse business.

On May 29, 2021, it was a typical Saturday night for the family’s small Mississauga takeout restaurant Chicken Land at The Collegeway and Glen Erin Drive, D’Iorio said, with family members making food for the dinner rush and one doing homework in the back.

At 7:15 p.m. a hooded and masked man can be seen on video entering Chicken Land, where he pulled out a gun and shot several members of the family, shooting Akl in the neck, killing him, and shooting several others, he said.

Witnesses saw a slim man run towards a getaway car and jump into the trunk as the car sped away before any first responders could arrive.

On Friday the jury saw some 70 videos from dashcams, surveillance cameras and traffic cameras that documented the Honda Accord as it drove back to Abassi’s warehouse.

Another confidant in the group heard Nath describe the murders and will testify, D’Iorio said. Police found ISIS propaganda on the phones of the accused, and records on Raza’s phone of a search for “What are the sentences for a getaway driver,” he said.

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