One of two Canadian soldiers run down in suspected
terror attack near Montreal dies of his injuries
The driver of a car who rammed two Canadian Forces members near Montreal before being shot dead by police was known to counter-terrorism authorities who believed he had become radicalized, the RCMP said on Monday as they continued to investigate the possible terrorist attack.
“This individual was known to federal authorities including our Integrated National Security Investigations team in Montreal who along with other authorities were concerned that he had become radicalized,’’ the RCMP said in a statement. The force declined further comment.
The 25-year-old, known as Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau, allegedly hit two members of the Canadian Forces as they were walking in a strip mall just outside St-Jean-sur-Richelieu at about 11:30 a.m.
Early Tuesday, one of two soldiers hit by the car died of his injuries, Quebec provincial police said. The soldier’s name was not released at the request of the family.
The second soldier’s injuries were described as less serious, the Canadian Press reported, but police were not able to provide an update on the individual’s condition.
After the soldiers were struck, police chased the man more than four kilometres until his car flipped into a ditch.
The man then exited his car, allegedly holding a knife, and police opened fire, seriously injuring him, said Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Joyce Kemp. He was transported to hospital, but police later confirmed he had died.
The suggestion the incident was an act of terrorism was first raised in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said he was aware of the “extremely troubling” reports and that authorities were investigating.
The Prime Minister was briefed on the investigation by RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson, and National Security Adviser Stephen Rigby. “Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized. As Canada’s national security agencies have said, Canadians should remain vigilant,” said a statement from Jason MacDonald, the prime minister’s spokesman.
Speaking to reporters at the scene, Sûreté du Québec spokesman Lt. Guy Lapointe said it was too early to determine whether the military personnel were deliberately targeted. “All I can say is that the theory that this is a deliberate act is part of what we’ll be looking at,” he said.
The soldiers were being treated in hospital. One was said to be seriously injured, while the other soldier’s injuries were less severe, Sgt. Kemp said. Police were reconstructing the scene, with the brown car still upside down in the ditch.
A knife lay next to the car, underneath a bag. Sgt. Kemp would not confirm reports the driver had previously charged at police with the knife. “At this point, it’s too soon to say,” the sergeant said. “The investigation is still in its early stages.”
Because the local St-Jean-sur-Richelieu police were involved in the shooting, the SQ has taken over the investigation. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is home to the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, which conducts basic military training as well as professional development programs and employs about 600 military personnel and civilians.
A Twitter account under the name Ahmad Rouleau featured the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, the terrorist group that last month called on its followers to kill Canadians because of Ottawa’s role in the anti-ISIS military coalition.
“Islam is the only true religion. Anyone who want scientific proof of God that your terrorist Zionism Rothschild media hide, contact me or add me if you re open minded,” he commented beneath an online Time magazine article last May.
‘Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell’
On a Facebook page under the same name, French and English posts — the last one on Friday — denounced Christianity and Judaism. “Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment,” he wrote.
No information has been officially released linking the incident to ISIS, but the possibility he was a lone wolf incited by the group’s propaganda was being examined. On Sept. 21, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Adnani explicitly called for attacks against Canadians. In his 42-minute audio taped message, Adnani urged his fanatical followers to single out a victim and “run him over with your car.”
The use of a car to ram identifiable soldiers was reminiscent of the December 2013 murder of British serviceman Lee Rigby. In that attack, two men armed with knives struck him with their car near a military facility in Woolwich, United Kingdom, and then attempted to sever his head. They were later filmed making Islamist extremist slogans.
Following the attack, Canada’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre prepared a “Secret” intelligence report noting that the killing was the second of two attacks in six months that “appear to have targeted military personnel in public areas.”
The document noted that the Toronto 18 and a 2010 group headed by Iranian-Canadian Hiva Alizadeh had also talked about striking Canada’s military. “Canadian Forces personnel and facilities have been discussed as targets by domestic extremists in the past,” said the 2013 report, released under the Access to Information Act.
As recently as Monday, calls to attack Canadians for joining the anti-ISIS coalition continued to surface. A Canadian extremist who converted in 2010 and now goes by “Abu Khalid Al-Kanadi” posted a message inciting attacks on Canadians.
“Yes, my message is clear,” the self-proclaimed ISIS member tweeted last week. “Canada initiated attacks on the Islamic State, so Muslims in Canada, retaliate & KILL THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM.”
Adnani’s 42-minute audio speech emphasized that victims did not have to be military. But the ISIS message has found little following in Canada. While a handful of Canadians have joined ISIS, Canadian Muslim organizations have strongly denounced the terrorist group and have held demonstrations against it.
NDP leader Tom Mulcair cautioned about reaching quick conclusions about the perpetrator’s motives. “Let the police do their job and then we’ll know whether we’re dealing with the type of situation they’ve described,” he said.
The hit-and-run comes as Canada prepares to joint a U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq. CF-18 Hornets were to leave 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., on Tuesday for Kuwait, where they will be stationed during Operation Impact.
National Post with files from Postmedia News