San Bernardino attacker linked to Toronto Area school

A controversial Islamic educator who once taught in Mississauga is defending her school after one of the San Bernardino killers was revealed to be a former student.

Farhat Hashmi, who at one point ran the Al-Huda Institute of Canada an Islamic school in Mississauga, issued a statement on her website, Monday distancing herself from Tashfeen Malik. The scholar acknowledged that Malik studied at Al-Huda’s branch in Multan, Pakistan for two years starting in 2013 and left without completing a diploma.

“It seems that she was unable to understand the beautiful message of the Qur’an,” the statement says. “We cannot be held responsible for personal acts of any of our students.”

The chain of schools are “non-political, non-sectarian and non-profit,” the statement notes, denying links to “any extremist regime.”

“The organization stands to promote peaceful message of Islam and denounce extremism, violence and acts of terrorism.”

Hashmi at one point appears to have taught at the Mississauga school, but according to people at the centre, hasn’t taught there for about six years. Imran Haq, the school’s operations manager, would not comment on Hashmi’s tenure at the school, other than to say it had been sometime since she was actively involved.

Haq referred reporters to the statement the school issued condemning the shooting.

Malik and her American-born husband, Syed Farook, were killed in a shootout with police hours after they opened fire with assault rifles on a gathering of Farook’s colleagues last Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 people.