3 men guilty of 1st-degree murder in 2021 Mississauga shooting

Nath, left, from Mississauga, was accused of carrying out the shooting, while Raza, centre, also from Mississauga, was the alleged getaway driver. Abbasi, right, from Brampton, was the alleged organizer, Crown argued. (Peel Regional Police  - image credit)
Nath, left, from Mississauga, was accused of carrying out the shooting, while Raza, centre, also from Mississauga, was the alleged getaway driver. Abbasi, right, from Brampton, was the alleged organizer, Crown argued. (Peel Regional Police - image credit)

Three men have been found guilty of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder in a Mississauga restaurant shooting that killed one and left four injured three years ago.

Anand Nath, the shooter, Suliman Raza, the getaway driver and Naqash Abbasi, the mastermind behind the attack face an automatic life sentence with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

The 12-member jury delivered their verdict after just over a day of deliberations at the Superior Court in Brampton before Justice David Harris.

The verdict comes after a five-week trial held in the May 29, 2021 shooting at the family-owned Chicken Land restaurant that left Naim Akl, 25, dead and his mother, father, brother, and a delivery driver wounded.

As the verdict was read aloud, Nath shed tears while Raza gave him a hug.

Abbasi's parents were present in the room. His mother cried when her son was convicted.

Before exiting the courtroom, Raza turned and smiled at the Akl family.

Lawyers for the three men refused to comment, saying they are processing the verdict. Adam Newman, who represented Abbasi, said he is "disappointed, for now."

Justice Harris said it is not common for judges to share opinions on verdicts, but that this one was "reasonable."

He called it an "emotional and stressful trial" as he thanked the jury after the Thursday evening verdict.

Akl family 'satisfied justice was done': Crown

Crown prosecutor Brian McGuire said he was satisfied with the verdict.

"We're very sad for the Akl family but they're satisfied justice was done," McGuire said.

During the trial, court heard that the men had pledged allegiance to ISIS and were looking to silence Akl because he planned to go to police about their actions.

Asked about the possibility of further investigations into the men's alleged pledge to ISIS, McGuire refused to comment.

"I'm not going to touch that with a 10-foot pole," he said.

Akl worked with the three men at a Mississauga Amazon fulfilment warehouse named TryALinc — set up by Abbasi — until a falling out over a month before the shooting.

As part of the evidence presented, the jury heard a recording of Abbasi berating Akl for quitting the business. Texts sent by Abbasi to the other men were also shown to the jury, calling Akl a "traitor."

Naim Akl, 25, was killed in a shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021.
Naim Akl, 25, was killed in a shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021.

Naim Akl, 25, was killed in a shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021. (Facebook/Canadian Druze Society)

Prosecutors tied many of their arguments to the testimony of their star witness, Mikail Aras, who said he was an acquaintance of the three men.

Aras told the jury the men asked him to pledge allegiance to an ISIS leader at a warehouse meeting two days after the shooting. Aras said the men then confessed the murder plot to him.

Aras testified Abbasi told him Akl was a liability because he knew about the men's allegiance to ISIS and might go to the police since Abbasi owed him nearly $20,000.

"Together, they acted as a deadly team," McGuire said during his closing statement Monday.

Akl's blood found in trunk of Raza's father's car

Newman, who represented Abbasi, argued there was no evidence to prove that other than Aras's testimony.

In his closing statement Tuesday, Newman called Aras's testimony "nothing but fabrication and lies," listing inconsistencies in his testimony compared to his police statement.

For example, while Aras testified he learned of the shooting two days after it happened, he told police he learned of it at his apartment the day after the shooting. Newman said that meant Aras was sheltering a shooter and wanted to hide that in court.

The Crown did not provide evidence to corroborate Aras's testimony that money from the business was used to fund ISIS. However, one of the men's phone records showed searches and downloads of extremist content.

Raza's phone record showed downloads of ISIS propaganda videos and searches related to the ISIS leader that Aras testified the men had pledged allegiance to.

His search terms included: "Glock 43 vs Glock 43X," "sentences for a getaway driver," "Islamic dream wife jail," and "disbelief is worse than killing." He also texted a man about the price of a gun days before the shooting.

Akl's blood was found in the trunk of Raza's father's Honda Accord.

The shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021, left Naim Akl, 25, dead. Akl's mother, father and brother, as well as a family friend were also shot.
The shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021, left Naim Akl, 25, dead. Akl's mother, father and brother, as well as a family friend were also shot.

The shooting at Chicken Land, on Glen Erin Drive and the Collegeway in Mississauga, on May 29, 2021, left Naim Akl, 25, dead. Akl's mother, father and brother, as well as a family friend were also shot. (Vedran Lesic/CBC)

Elliott Willschick, who represented Raza, said his client could not take responsibility for all the searches and that Raza's phone included non-criminal searches as well.

Aras and Noah Rabbani, who worked at TryALinc as a marketer, testified Nath was in cold sweats and paranoid after the shooting.

Within days, Nath left for Montreal with Rabbani — a trip Abbasi paid for, court heard. An officer testified Nath turned himself in to Montreal police on June 10.

Kendra Stanyon, who represented Nath, said all the evidence against him was "circumstantial" and that it wasn't "sufficient to convict anyone of being the shooter."

A sentencing hearing for the five counts of attempted murder is scheduled for June 27.