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Teen was doing homework at family's Mississauga, Ont. restaurant when gunman opened fire: testimony

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The 13-year-old sister of a young man killed in the attack on her family’s Mississauga restaurant in 2021 took the stand in a Brampton courthouse on Monday to describe the terrifying moments of coming under fire.

Sandra Akl, now 16, was composed as she described how she was doing homework in the back of the Akl family’s Chicken Land restaurant when a gunman burst in.

“Pretty much everyone but me was shot. Most of them were lying on the floor bleeding. My mom, although she was shot, she was still standing,” Akl said of the scene.

She said she took cover behind kitchen equipment and was not injured, but saw her family members and one employee hit. Her father was shot in the chest, her mother in her right arm, and one of her two brothers was shot in the head, she said.

“I was too busy paying attention to my mom screaming and trying to hide from the bullets I didn’t get a good look [at the attacker],” she later told investigators.

The Crown has alleged the gunman was not attacking at random, but part of a co-ordinated operation headquartered in a nearby warehouse business called TryAlinc, that was sending money to the listed terrorist group the Islamic State.

The target, the Crown has said, was Naim Akl, who had recently got a job at TryAlinc, and had discovered the group’s connections to terrorism and planned to turn them in.

Naqash Abassi, Suliman Raza, and Anand Nath are each charged with one count of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

On Monday, the Crown attorneys played in court videos that TryAlinc posted to social media that showed off it e-commerce business, promising clients that it could ship Amazon orders placed in their online stores.

“We import these products from overseas,” said Abassi in one video. “We fulfill them for your online store, and guess what? The dollars come to your pocket.”

In another video, Nath – who the Crown says is the shooter – walks through the warehouse and shows off products that are being shipped.

“Just like that, you sit at home and you make money,” he says in the video. In another video, he appears to be providing a testimonial as a TryAlinc client.

The trio sat in court listening quietly as lawyers heard from one eyewitness, who said that a masked and hooded man ran quickly from Chicken Land to hop into the trunk of a waiting Honda Accord.

Police have said they tracked that Accord through Peel Region before it returned to the TryAlinc warehouse.

Authorities also described in court what they found on the phone of Raza, who is the accused getaway driver, including multiple propaganda videos for the Islamic State, some of which advanced arguments that justified the killing of women and children.

Also found on the phone were evidence of several internet searches for news about the attack, including one for, “What are the sentences for the getaway driver?”

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