Darkness Falls in Windsor, Ontario

Habibullah Ahmadi now charged with murder of Anne Widholm.

“Sara Anne Widholm, 76, died at Windsor Regional Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 15,” the Windsor Star reports, but this was not a mere obituary. On October 8, 2017, while out for a walk on the Ganatchio Trail in Windsor, Widholm was the victim of a “vicious” and “unprovoked” attack by Habibullah Ahmadi, 21.

He was originally charged with assault, later upgraded to attempted murder and now second-degree murder with the death of his victim. Little has emerged about Habibullah Ahmadi and his motive in the attack, which was “not just another assault,” according to neurosurgeon Dr. Balraj Jhawar.

“The worst skull fractures I’ve seen in my 12 years here in Windsor,” Jhawar told reporters. “This is among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career.” The victim’s multiple brain hemorrhages and fractured skull and vertebrae required eight hours of surgery. Hospital officials did not indicate whether Widholm emerged from a coma before she finally passed away.

Attacker Habibullah Ahmadi was 21, a full adult, but police never released his booking photo. News reports described him as a “Windsor man,” who goes by the name “Daniel.”  Local and national news stories contained no statements from Habibullah Ahmadi, nor any indication that he had declined an interview. Likewise, news reports contained no quotes from Habibullah Ahmadi’s family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or fellow students in Windsor.  

Habibullah Ahmadi, a male of 21, attacked a defenseless woman, 75, but local and national feminists did not cite the attack as an example of violence against women or toxic masculinity. Likewise, no statement against violence emerged after the attack finally claimed Widholm’s life.

Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens tweeted that Widholm “exemplified the can-do Windsor spirit and my most sincere condolences go out to her family for their loss.” It was as though she had died of natural causes, and no mention of the violent attack.

Former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn, a crusader against bullying, never offered a statement on the case. Current Premier Doug Ford of the Progressive Conservative Party did not issue a  comment. News reports turn up no proclamations on the attack from Lisa Gretzky, a New Democratic Party MPP for Windsor, or from the NDP provincial leader Andrea Horwath. The Prime Minister was another story.

Last January, an 11-year-old Toronto girl charged that a man had twice cut her hijab. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the attack, which turned out to be a hoax. The son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had nothing to say about the attack on Anne Widholm, which was not a hoax.

Habibullah means “friend of Allah,” but nobody from the Windsor Mosque made any public statement about the accused murderer. His victim Anne Widholm was an outgoing Christian, and Ahmadi attacked her on a Sunday, but no public official raised the possibility that Islam might have played any role in the attack, or whether it might have been a hate crime. It certainly wasn’t robbery and Habibullah Ahmadi wasn’t somebody out looking for a fight.

Dr. Jhawar found “absolutely unacceptable” the notion that the attack was random. “For all of us who live here in Windsor, we can’t tolerate this,” he told reporters. “This is not just another assault. This is maybe representing a new, dark side of Windsor that we can’t let propagate.”

Somebody let this propagate, and darkness has now fallen for Anne Widolm, whose husband Alfred died in November, 2017. The one-year anniversary of the attack passed without notice in local and national media. Police and court authorities weren’t exactly keep the public posted about the case.

Last July, CTV news said AM800 News, CKLW, has learned that a date for Habibullah’s trial would be set sometime in January 2019, though no official court or police document was cited. The CTV piece came headlined, “Windsor man going to trial for alleged Ganatchio Trail attack,” and the story cited “an alleged vicious attack of an elderly woman.”  From the start, there was nothing “alleged” about it, and the report offered no insight on the attacker.  

Locals could be forgiven for wondering if “Windsor man” Habibullah Ahmadi might be an unvetted refugee who had been booted out of the USA. That was the case with Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, the Somalian who mounted vehicle and knife attacks targeting Edmonton police officer Mike Chernyk. It was also possible that Habibullah Ahmadi was following the 2014 order of ISIS boss Abu Muhamad al-Adnani:

“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European,” Adnani’s order stated, “especially the spiteful and filthy French – or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”

The murder trial of Habibullah Ahmadi may render some answers. No trial date has been set and as the Windsor Star explains, “the case remains under active investigation by the Major Crimes Branch.” Justice delayed is not yet justice denied.

Photo: CTV Windsor