Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan confirmed that Toronto van attack suspect Alek Minassian was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for a brief period of time in 2017 and asked to be voluntarily released after 16 days of recruit training.
Minassian went through rigorous screening before being recruited into the Canadian Forces but no concerns were raised about his mental health, said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.
Alek Minassian, who was arrested minutes after the attack, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.
Minassian was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for 2 months in late 2017. He served from August 23 until October 25, according to the Canadian military. He did not complete his recruit training.
Sajjan said no concerns were raised about Minassian’s mental health during the recruiting process. He told journalists that all recruits go through a thorough screening process. “In this case that was done,” Sajjan said.
A Department of National Defence spokesperson said that Minassian started his basic training at the military facility at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec in September 2017. He had not progressed to weapons training by the time he was released.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while the investigation is still underway, there is no evidence to suggest there was a “national security element” to the incident.