Nathaniel Veltman is escorted while leaving trial outside Ontario Superior Court in Windsor, Ontario, Tuesday, Sept.5, 2023. The trial of Veltman who is facing terror-related murder charges in the deaths of four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario, in 2021, has started in Windsor. (Dax Melmer/The Canadian Press via AP)

A Canadian man driven by White nationalist beliefs acted deliberately when he crashed his pick-up truck into a Muslim family, resulting in the tragic death of four people, the prosecutor said as the trial began on September 11.

Federal prosecutor Sarah Shaikh said in the opening statement that Nathaniel Veltman, 22, planned his attack for three months before driving his Dodge Ram truck directly at the Muslim family.

“He drove his truck directly at them,” Shaikh was quoted by broadcaster CTV as telling the court, with “pedal to the metal.”

Three generations of the Afzaal family were killed in the attack: Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44 their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal. The couple’s nine-year-old son was also seriously injured but survived.


He revealed that his motivation stemmed from the 2019 Christchurch shootings, wherein a White nationalist claimed the lives of 51 individuals.

“I don’t regret what I did. I admit that it was terrorism. This was politically motivated, 100 percent,” he is alleged to have told detectives.

According to Shaikh’s statement, upon his arrest, he told the police he wanted to “send a strong message” against the immigration of Muslims.

She added that Veltman was overheard in the background of a 911 call saying, “It was me who crashed into them. … I did it on purpose.”

Evidence collected by police included writings gushing about White nationalism and against mass immigration. Several knives and an air gun were also seized from his truck.

Veltman has pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder regarding the death of the Afzaal family on the evening of June 2021 in London, Ontario.

The Afzaal family death incident stands as the most fatal anti-Muslim assault in Canada since the 2017 mosque shooting in Quebec City, which resulted in the loss of six lives.

The individual responsible for the 2017 shooting was not indicted on terrorism charges.

The trial, being closely watched, could reshape how Canada prosecutes far-right extremism.

After the September 11 attacks in the United States, Canada passed anti-terrorism laws. Provisions within the Terrorism Act mandate the Crown to prove Veltman was driven by political, religious, or ideological motives and that he aimed to intimidate or strike fear in the public.

So far the law has been used to bring charges against individuals who engaged in violent acts in the name of Islamist extremism. However, Veltman’s trial represents a significant change in the application of the law, as it is one of the first instances an individual suspected of being motivated by far-right ideology is being prosecuted.

The case marks the first-time arguments of a terrorism motive related to White supremacy that will be heard in a Canadian court. (