Family members of a man whose throat was slashed Saturday in Surrey, B.C., say his assailant gave no indication of his motive during an attack that RCMP allege was an act of terrorism.
Abdul Aziz Kawam is charged with attempted murder, assault causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon, all in association with terrorist group the Islamic State.
Kawam is to reappear in Surrey provincial court today for a hearing whose details are covered by a publication ban.
Chris Jensen, whose partner is the victim’s sister, says the injured man told him “he had no idea” what motivated the attacker who did not call out or say anything at the time.
Jensen says the man told him “there was no warning” before the attack, and terrorism didn’t enter the minds of the family until police announced the charges.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police have alleged a man took out a knife and slashed another man across the throat before being arrested at the scene by transit police and Surrey RCMP.
Jensen said the victim, who he calls his brother-in-law, described getting onto the bus and then turning to help a man he thought was falling before he saw the knife.
“He just attacked him,” Jensen said.
The victim struggled with the armed man and eventually succeeded in pushing the attacker off the bus after being wounded.
“It was a heroic act,” Jensen said. “When the guy cut his throat, he could have given up, he could have curled up and just let the guy attack somebody else. But he kept fighting, and in the end he may have saved every person on that bus from injury.”
The victim returned home from hospital Tuesday after receiving a knife wound that Jensen said stretched from the back of his neck to near his throat, just below the left side of his jaw.
Jensen said the nurse tending to the victim said the attack could have been fatal if the knife had been sharper.
He said his brother-in-law suffered some vocal-chord damage, but the knife did not strike any major tendons or arteries, and doctors are hopeful he can make a full recovery.
Jensen has set up a GoFundMe page for the victim, who he said is Indigenous.
He said on the page that his brother-in-law is “one of the most unassuming, kind, shy, gentle, and caring people you could ever meet.”
He said the victim will not be able to perform the physical labour required at his work for at least several weeks. That wasn’t taking into account the mental trauma.
“He’s able to move, but emotionally he is in another place,” Jensen said. “He may have trouble getting on the bus the next time he tries. He may not trust certain people around him because they look very much like this person.
“He doesn’t even want to go to court to ever see this guy.”
Transit police say they discovered during their investigation that Kawam, who was born in 1995, made several concerning comments, leading investigators to notify the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, who then consulted with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada on the terrorism charges.
They say the suspect also allegedly displayed and held a knife to the throat of another individual at a bus stop about four blocks from the scene of the slashing attack. That person was able to push the assailant away and escape unharmed, police say.