“Muhammed Islam said his motivations for the kidnapping were related to years of being surveilled and monitored by the RCMP, and that he was desperate for it to stop.”
The Muslim kidnapped a woman, I’d say it was a very good thing he was being surveiled. Wouldn’t you?
I guarantee that the RCMP will stop surveillance on Mr. Islam – while he is doing 7 to 10 years for kidnapping.
‘I took a hostage. Are you listening to me?’
Wednesday morning, a man called the Toronto Star saying he was “at a breaking point.” It was clear this was unlike any other call into the newsroom.
By Wendy Gillis, Victoria Gibson, Ainslie Cruickshank, Alex McKeen, The Star, June 28, 2017 (thanks to Chai):
It began with what seemed like any other tip called in to the Toronto Star’s 24-hour news desk.
But the man on the line — his voice steady, at times upset but never once raised — would soon reveal he had made a desperate move.
He was “at a breaking point.” He needed to be listened to. This is what it would take, he said.
Over the phone, a woman’s desperate screams could be heard — “I have family!” she cried.
It was clear this was unlike any other call into the newsroom.
What unfolded beginning around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday was a daylight hostage-taking in an Eglinton West massage parlour tucked into an industrial area strip mall. Heavily armed members of Toronto police’s Emergency Task Force soon descended on the area, patrolling the area with guns and taking position on top of nearby buildings, according to witnesses.
The more than hour-long negotiation — beginning first with a call to the Star, and ending with a Toronto police negotiator — would end shortly after noon with the safe rescue of a woman who was being held inside Studio 9 massage parlour, and the arrest of a burly man dressed all in black.
Michael Storms, 35, was charged Wednesday with forcible confinement and uttering threats.
The man on the phone had told the Star he had converted to Islam when he was 20, and also went by the name Muhammed Islam. The caller said his motivations for the kidnapping were related to years of being surveilled and monitored by the RCMP, and that he was desperate for it to stop.
The RCMP did not return a request for comment to the Star by press time.
In a 2014 article in the National Post, a Toronto man identified as Muhammed Islam was named as one of approximately 90 high-risk travellers whose passports were seized to prevent them from travelling to take part in extremist violence abroad.
In a YouTube video posted in 2014, a man called Michael Storms identifies himself as Muhammed Islam and says he had a difficult childhood, grew up with family that were “very bad people” — “that was a my upbringing, crime and violence, drugs.”
“I was never alone, but I felt lonely,” he says in the video.
Throughout Wednesday’s incident, the man on the phone stressed that his actions were not motivated by terrorism and he staunchly did not support it.
Below is an account of events on Wednesday, based on interviews with witnesses and police and a recording of more than an hour of the negotiations.
The incident began inside Studio 9 spa, when a regular who staff knew as Mike walked in. Immediately, he began by giving instructions to the receptionist: cover the massage parlour windows with paper and duct tape, which he had brought in his bag.
According to a woman who identified herself as Nyla, who did not want her last name used, she and another woman working inside the parlour were told they could leave, but the man prevented one woman from leaving. Nyla said the man she knew as Mike then told them the situation had nothing to do with them, but he needed someone to listen to him.
Inside the Toronto Star newsroom, the phone rang in the Radio Room, the 24-hour news desk. Reporter Fakiha Baig took the call.
Baig thought it was another call alerting the Star to a story idea, and listened as the man began speaking about how he was being surveilled.
Then she heard a woman shouting.
“I could hear her crying in the background, saying something like ‘why are you doing this,’ and asking for help,” Baig said after the incident.
The caller, who identified himself as Michael, began telling Baig that he needed to do something drastic to be heard.
“I’ve needed help for a long time, OK? And nobody will listen. The only way to do this is to create a situation. A crisis, OK? Which is what I’m doing. So I took a hostage. Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, sir, where are you exactly?” asked Baig, who had begun recording the call.
Michael tells her exactly where he is, then goes on, insistent on explaining his motivations.
“This is being done out of desperation,” Michael says. “Because I don’t know what to do, right? Nobody will listen, nobody will help me, right?”
As more crying can be heard in the background, Baig realizes she needs to get someone else involved — “I’m not hanging up sir, can you give me one second?” she tells him.
Baig leaves, rushing through the newsroom to tell Star editor Jennifer Quinn what is going on…..
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