Canada gunman talked about foreign policy in video
TORONTO (AP) — The gunman who shot and killed a soldier at Canada’s national war memorial and then stormed Parliament before being gunned down talked about Canada’s foreign policy and his religious beliefs in a video before the attack, police said Monday.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was deliberate, lucid and purposeful in articulating the basis for his attack.
Paulson said police recovered the video from Zehaf-Bibeau’s “own device.” He said they didn’t believe it went anywhere else but said they are investigating.
He called the video persuasive evidence that the attack was driven by ideological and political motives when he announced the existence of the tape Sunday.
A detailed analysis of the video was being conducted and Paulson said they cannot release the video at this time.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has called Wednesday’s shooting a terror attack, and the bloodshed raised fears that Canada is suffering reprisals for joining the U.S.-led air campaign against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.
Police are investigating Zehaf-Bibeau’s interactions with numerous individuals in the days leading up to the attack and whether they could have contributed or facilitated it.
Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, shot to death Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, who was assigned to the honor guard at the national war memorial. Zehaf-Bibeau was eventually gunned down inside Parliament by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons, Kevin Vickers.
The attack in Ottawa came two days after a man described as an “ISIL-inspired terrorist” ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot to death by police. The man had been under surveillance by Canadian authorities, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
Unlike the attacker in the Quebec case, Zehaf-Bibeau was not being watched by authorities. But Paulson said last week that Zehaf-Bibeau may have lashed out in frustration over delays in getting his passport. Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau told his mother, Susan Bibeau, that he wanted to go to Syria, but the RCMP has since corrected that and said his mother told police he wanted to go to Saudi Arabia.
“After further review from our investigators’ interview with Mrs. Bibeau, she had in fact referred to him wanting to travel to Saudi Arabia,” RCMP spokesman Greg Cox said.
The Canadian government, meanwhile, is poised to boost the powers of its spy service by introducing legislation that would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service greater flexibility in tracking terror suspects abroad, as well as provide blanket identity protection for the agency’s human sources. That law was in the works before the attack.
The Harper government is now also looking to strengthen anti-terrorism laws and suggested it could lower threshold around preventive arrests. Details have not been released. Opposition parties urged the Harper government not to curtail civil liberties.
“The first responsibility of the government is to keep people safe. We will not overreact but is also time we stop underreacting to the grave threats against us,” Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said.