Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s last video proves he was a terrorist “mujahedeen” seeking vengeance for Canada’s foreign military deployments, and justifies the need for new anti-terrorism legislation, the federal government said as the chilling recording was released to the public.
But RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson raised new questions about the effectiveness of Canada’s counter-terrorism strategy as he presented the Ottawa shooter’s video to a parliamentary committee. While he said the new powers in Bill C-51 will be “helpful,” he wondered openly whether police and courts can keep up with the growing terror crackdown.
Commissioner Paulson made it clear that Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau would have been prosecuted as a terrorist had he survived his attack on Parliament, and that 130 Mounties are looking into his past associates.
“The active investigation is pursuing those who may have actively contributed to his development and his radicalization,” the top Mountie told the Public Safety committee of the House. “I’m persuaded that Zehaf-Bibeau didn’t come to this act alone.”
Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau recorded his final thoughts in his car shortly before he killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial and then stormed Parliament’s Centre Block armed with a rifle and a knife. He was rapidly gunned down by guards and police in the Hall of Honour, a short distance from MPs, ministers and the Prime Minister.
The RCMP quickly recovered the cellphone that was used to create the one-minute video, and released the footage on Friday – minus 18 seconds to protect the ongoing investigation.
“To those who are involved and listen to this movie, this is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau said shortly before launching the attack of Oct. 22. “So we are retaliating, the mujahedeen of this world.”
He was clearly aware his actions were about to spread fear across Canada and around the world. “So, just aiming to hit some soldiers just to show that you’re not even safe in your own land,” he said.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney issued a statement after the video’s release to push for the adoption of Bill C-51, saying his government wants “to ensure police and our national security agencies have the tools they need to keep Canadians safe.”
The RCMP, however, is struggling to keep up with the current level of anti-terrorism activities, siphoning off resources from other sectors, including organized crime and fraud cases. Commissioner Paulson said the number of Mounties involved in counter-terrorism activities has doubled to more than 600 in recent months, adding the number of would-be terrorists being tracked is steadily increasing.
“I have not seen the tempo and pace and volume of counter-terrorism investigations, domestically, as I have seen in this last year,” he said. “I just don’t think it’s sustainable to maintain our programs in other areas, where we are drawing resources from those, to address this threat.”
He added another one of his concerns is whether Canada’s court system can deal with the growing requests from police to impose restrictions on the movements of potential terrorists. A recent request for a peace bond was “put off for a month,” he said, arguing the court disregarded the urgency of the request.
“It doesn’t seem consistent with what we’re trying to advance,” Commissioner Paulson said. “While the legislation and the proposed legislation is adequate and the proposed legislation would be helpful, I think we need to rethink in this country how we manage the courts.”
Commissioner Paulson added he was aware the video could “incite more violence” and “be used by terrorist elements and sympathizers to facilitate recruitment, financing and action.” However, he said it also will help Canadians understand the need to contact authorities when family members, friends or acquaintances are “getting a little nutty.”
He added there were no signs of drugs or alcohol in Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s body, and no evidence his attack was motivated by mental-health problems. Still, he said some people who knew him could have warned authorities about troubling changes in his behaviour.Report Typo/Error