Canadian Taxi Driver Homicides: Thualfikar Alattiya Previous page    Next page • Driver Profiles

Thualfikar Alattiya

Windsor, Ontario / November 19, 2004

At about 7:20 a.m. on Friday, November 19, 2004, a resident of Wellington Avenue saw a Veteran Taxi stop at the side door of his house on Montrose Street. As he watched, a grey Chevrolet Cavalier pulled up beside the taxi. A man got out of the taxi, climbed into the Cavalier and drove away.

When the taxi was still parked on the same spot an hour later the resident went outside to investigate. He found the body of the driver, Thualfikar Alattiya, slumped on the back seat. Mr. Alattiya's throat had been slashed so badly his head was almost cut off.

Mr. Alattiya, 41, had left his home town of Najaf in southern Iraq at the age of 19 to study civil engineering in Syria. He lived in Syria and the Gulf States until 2001 when he immigrated to Canada with his wife and two small children. At the time of his death he had three children aged seven, six and two.

Mr. Alattiya began his Friday shift at 5 a.m. At 7:04 a.m. Veteran Taxi received a call from an address on Wellington Avenue. The caller specifically asked for taxi number 144, Mr. Alattiya's taxi.

The taxi's global positioning system traced its erratic movements during the next 15 minutes -- south on Wellington Avenue, east on Montrose Street, north on Elm Avenue, west on College Avenue, north on Huron Church, east on Wyandotte Street, south on Campbell Avenue, east on College again and south on Elm, finally stopping on Montrose between Wellington and Elm.

Police quickly arrested a 53-year-old convenience store owner and his two sons aged 18 and 19. After their arrests a 22-year-old man turned himself in to police. Two juveniles, one of them a girl, were later arrested as accessories after the fact.

Four days after the murder police received a tip that led them to the murder weapon, a distinctive two-bladed folding knife. It had been hidden in a sewer near the murder scene. The two curved knife blades were separated by a handle with finger grooves. One blade had a smooth edge and the other a serrated edge.

Both Mr. Alattiya and the convenience store owner were leaders in Windsor's Muslim community, many of whose members had fled Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1991. Mr. Alattiya and the store owner were involved in dispute over a fundraising project for a new mosque. The store owner also accused Mr. Alattiya of spying on him for evidence of welfare fraud and of telling other members of the community that he (the store owner) was not an Imam. Members of the community offered to mediate the dispute but the store owner refused.

Instead, the store owner enlisted his two sons and their friend to carry out an attack on Mr. Alattiya. Originally a girlfriend of one of the sons was to act as a decoy, directing Mr. Alattiya to a secluded street where the attackers were waiting, but in the end she refused to participate. The three young men then planned to ambush Mr. Alattiya themselves on the night before the murder but he was not on duty. Frustrated by this failure they went to what they thought was Mr. Alattiya's residence and smashed the windows in a parked van.

On the morning of the murder the men equipped themselves with ski masks, gloves, a wire garotte, a bat and a knife. They called Veteran Taxi from a convenience store but directed the cab to a random address on Wellington Avenue where they waited. [Next column]

Thualfikar Alattiya and two of his children. (Source: Windsor Star, November 23, 2004)

Initially the plan was to beat the cab driver and give him a warning not to interfere further with the store owner and his sons. The garotte was to "weaken" him if he resisted and the bat was in case he "got out of hand".

Mr. Alattiya told his attackers that he recognized them despite their disguises and this may have been his death warrant. One of the attackers cut Mr. Alattiya's seat belt and pulled him into the back seat while another attacker got behind the wheel. In the frenzy that followed the victim suffered nine stab wounds and his throat was slashed a dozen times. After the murder the men confessed to the girlfriend.

In separate trials the two brothers pleaded guilty to murder and were sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for ten years.

In December, 2007, the 22-year-old man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life with no possibility of parole for 25 years. He blamed one of the brothers for the murder but was convicted by blood evidence on his clothes, by his part in planning the attack, and by an apparent motive -- he had been forbidden by his father to associate with the two brothers on threat of being sent back to Kuwait.

In 2007 the store owner who had instigated the attack was sentenced to nine years in prison. However, because he was given 2-for-1 credit for the three years he served since 2004 he was required to serve only three additional years.

In sentencing him Superior Court Justice Robert Abbey commented on how the store owner had "conscripted" his sons to carry out Mr. Alattiya's murder and also on his "persistent" attempts while in prison to threaten and intimidate witnesses. He was caught trying to bribe a fellow prisoner to pass on threats and a witness told police that he received warnings from his tribal family in Iraq advising him of threats and suggesting that he change his testimony.