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Witness describes hearing details of alleged Mississauga, Ont. terror plot

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Court heard from the Crown’s star witness Tuesday in the case of an alleged terrorist plot to shoot an entire family at their Mississauga restaurant.

Mikhail Aras said he was at the group’s warehouse to see the alleged shooter, Anand Nath, come out of the trunk of the car he had been hiding in as the getaway car returned from its mission in May of 2021, and was eventually invited into their confidence – but he went to the police instead.

“The trunk opens, Anand comes out with his hoodie strings tied. His eyes were – I don’t know how to describe it. Soulless. In shock. Wide open,” Aras testified.

“I asked him what happened. He said, ‘Nothing. We’ve got to pray,’” Aras said.

That was among several extraordinary moments in Aras’s testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Anand Nath, Suliman Raza, and Naqash Abbasi.

The trio are accused of the attack on May 29, 2021 in the Chicken Land restaurant. Nath is accused of shooting and killing 25-year-old Naim Akl. Members of his family and an employee were also injured in the shooting. Raza is accused of being the getaway driver, and Abbasi is accused of masterminding the plot. All have pleaded not guilty.

Aras said he met Abbasi at an area mosque years before, and in 2021 Abbasi called him to see if he could let Nath stay with him for a few days. Aras accepted, and Nath moved in with him in late May.

On May 29, Aras joined Nath and Raza on a shopping trip that ended at the Kimbel St. warehouse of TriALinc, a business that ordered cheap products from overseas and then sold them locally on Amazon. Online videos show members of the trio marketing their products, which were largely kitchen utensils and toys.

A falling out over a bad investment preceded an angry phone call between Abbasi and Akl, who was working at the warehouse, and then quit, the court has heard.

Surveillance videos show Raza’s car entering and leaving the building’s lot. Aras testified he overheard a phone call between Abbasi and Nath, where Abbasi asked if he was “ready,” and Nath responded, “Yeah, I’m ready to do this for the sake of Allah."

The pair left, and returned a short time later. Nath jumped from the trunk and neither explained where they had been, Aras said. Nath, whose hair had been long before the shooting had suddenly shaved his head, he said.

The following Monday, Aras said he was invited to their warehouse, and Abassi extended his hand out and asked him to pledge allegiance to the head of the group the Islamic State, or ISIS, at the time: Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi.

“They said if I do that, it’s a form of secrecy, and that they can trust me,” he said.

That’s when Aras said Abbasi explained the plot, he said.

“Anand got sent on a mission to slaughter some Naim guy. Naqash ordered his whole family to get slaughtered,” Aras recalled. “He was a liability because he knew too much information about the allegiance to the al-Hashimi guy.”

He said they described the murder: that Suliman had dropped Nath off outside Chicken Land, and Anand had shot several family members and a driver. As he ran back to the car, Nath held up a sign for ‘6’ as a reference, saying he had shot six people.

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

“There was a guy with a dog outside. He was walking the dog. He was going to kill him but decided not to. He got into the trunk and he got away,” he said.

Aras said Raza’s response to that time was, “laughing, just like he is now,” he said, as the three accused bobbed their heads and appeared to be giving a non-verbal response back to Aras.

“Nath was telling me that Naqash ordered him to go to do this. It was the right thing to do for Islam. You have to do these things to go to heaven,” Aras said.

The group took out a silver handgun and showed Aras the bullets missing from the magazine, he said. Raza – who the court has heard had ISIS propaganda videos on his phone – was sending money to a brother in Pakistan for “jihad training,” he said.

“Naqash was building that Amazon business, sending money to their home country to assist in the war between the militants, ISIS and so on,” Aras said.

Aras also said the group was “trying to establish themselves here in Canada. They had a list of people.”

But at that point he was interrupted by a prosecutor who told him that was beyond the scope of the murder trial. There were other people Aras described in this meeting, but they aren’t facing charges, and no terrorism charges have been laid in this case.

He said a few days after that, Nath told him that he took the gun to a park and buried it before fleeing to Montreal, where he was eventually arrested.

Aras’s cross-examination will begin on Wednesday. 

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