London bombing suspect may have accessed neo-Nazi websites

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New court documents have revealed to media that the 20-year-old man accused of killing a Muslim family in London, Ont., had what appeared to be ‘hate-related material’ on a device and may have consumed white supremacist content on the dark web.

Nathaniel Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder following a car-ramming attack that killed three generations of a strolling family on June 6, 2021 About a week after the initial charges were filed, prosecutors also brought terrorism charges against Veltman.

The victims were identified as Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha, 44, their daughter Yumnah, 15, and Salman’s mother, Talat, 74. Nine-year-old Fazey Afzaal survived the attack and was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The documents in question were requests for information to be obtained (ITO), which the police file with the judges in order to request a search warrant. The denunciations were made public on March 15 after a judge’s decision, although parts of the documents remain under a publication ban.

Investigators had filed two ITOs in which they sought access to the Dodge Ram pickup truck involved in the attack as well as several of Veltman’s electronic devices.

In the first ITO, investigators had searched for electronic data dating back to December 14, 2019, through June 6, 2021. But in the second ITO, investigators sought to search for data on his devices dating back to December 20, 2015 — when Veltman would have approximately 14 or 15 years old.

Both ITOs say investigators were looking for evidence of “motive and planning” at the start of the investigation, as well as his “state of mind.”

“This evidence will also help corroborate VELTMAN’s statement,” the ITO says. But what Veltman told police in the statement is still covered by a publication ban.

The public part of one of the ITOs described how the police found several passwords and a URL written on a piece of paper. The URL in question was a dark web address, which means it was an encrypted site accessible only through the Tor browser and was an almost identical match to a dark web address which was formerly used by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website.

Addresses on the dark web use the “.onion” domain rather than “.com” or “.ca”. The dark web allows users to browse the web anonymously without having their IP address tracked. The anonymity the dark web offers makes it a popular tool for those who want to access illegal services as well as extremist content.

The police also seized several USB keys as well as two smartphones, a laptop and an external hard drive. They discovered that Tor Browser, a web browser used to surf dark web sites, was installed on a laptop, along with desktop shortcuts to launch the browser.

Most of the details of the files found on the devices remain under a publication ban, but police noted that some of the documents on one of Veltman’s devices “appeared to be hate-related material and relevant to listed offences”.

Investigators also sought to access several of Veltman’s online accounts, such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Snapchat. Around 68 usernames and passwords for various online accounts were stored on the laptop.

Several weapons were also on the ITO’s search list, including a machete, a camouflage knife, a large serrated knife, an airsoft gun and an axe.

In Veltman’s apartment, police said they found another piece of lined paper with speeds and percentages entered on a kitchen table.

The ITOs also shed some light on Veltman’s past. Investigators say he was not known to the RCMP at the time of his arrest. Police also said Veltman was homeschooled until 10th grade and had few friends.

UNSEALING OF DOCUMENTS WOULD UNDERMINE A FAIR TRIAL: POLICE

The release of these ITOs came after CTV News and several other media organizations sued to make them public. On March 7, an Ontario judge ruled that both informations could be made public, with parts of both documents remaining under a publication ban.

In both ITOs, investigators argued that releasing the documents to the public could compromise the defendant’s ability to receive a fair jury trial, citing the extensive media attention given to the case.

“Due to the hate crime aspect and the horrific and public nature of this crime, this investigation has generated significant public discourse on social media. Public debate can be positive, but not always.

“A debate on social media may lead to the public prosecution of VELTMAN without all facts being fully tested at trial,” the ITO read.

Police also cited how a reporter posted a screenshot of Veltman’s court appearance using Zoom on his Instagram account, despite the fact that it is illegal to share photographs or recordings of court proceedings in Ontario. .

“If this becomes a public document now, I’m sure it will be posted online,” the ITO reads.

–With files from John Vennavally-Rao of CTV National News

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