Skip to main content

Canada Ottawa shooter referred to Allah in video, RCMP says

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, is seen in an undated picture from the Vancouver Police Department released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Oct. 25, 2014.

Reuters

Before he killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo and stormed Parliament last week, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau recorded a video that cited Canada's foreign policy and made a religious reference, the head of the RCMP says.

RCMP don't believe the video, recovered from the gunman, was shared but they continue to dig into whether anyone saw it and whether anyone helped Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau.

"He was quite deliberate, he was quite lucid and he was quite purposeful in articulating the basis for his actions, and they were in respect broadly to Canada's foreign policy and also in respect of his religious beliefs," RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, describing the video, told reporters Monday after an appearance before a Senate committee.

Story continues below advertisement

He later said Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau referred specifically to "Allah," or God in Arabic, in the video.

The video comes after one witness said Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau made reference to Iraq, where Canada is part of an international coalition against Islamic State extremists, after killing Cpl. Cirillo.

Mr. Paulson also said Monday that last week's attacks were due more to a "distorted world view" than mental illness, specifically citing Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's "jihadist views."

The RCMP said Sunday the attack was driven by "ideological and political motives."

The RCMP aren't yet going to release the video, Mr. Paulson said, as the investigation is ongoing. "… It's a video that the deceased prepared himself on his own device that we were able to recover. Our belief is it had not gone anywhere else, but it may have gone elsewhere," Mr. Paulson said.

Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Cpl. Cirillo at the National War Memorial on Wednesday before storming the Centre Block building of Parliament Hill, where he was ultimately killed.

One witness, Hayden Trenholm, said he heard Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau shout "For Iraq!" after killing Cpl. Cirillo. "The odd thing was it was so flat. His facial expression was so neutral … there was no weight to the words," said Mr. Trenholm, who later relayed to police what he had heard.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Paulson, the RCMP commissioner, played down any potential link between mental health and the shooting.

"I'm not persuaded at all that mental illness is driving these things. What's driving these things is a distorted world view …," he said.

Mr. Paulson also said Monday that Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's attack Wednesday is not linked to an attack in Quebec two days earlier that also killed another soldier, but that police are still investigating the circumstances leading up to the Ottawa attack.

"We're working a very detailed timeline because we want to be able to satisfy ourselves whether or not there were individuals who were contributing to this person's radicalization and his jihadist views," he told reporters, referring to Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau.

He also said it appeared Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was not wearing body armour during the attack, and said police had still not conclusively determined where he got the gun used in the attack.

Asked if the long-gun registry, which was scuttled by the Conservatives, would have helped trace the origins of the gun, Mr. Paulson declined comment.

Story continues below advertisement

He said there was "little or no preparation" before Wednesday's attack and said that such attacks are harder to prevent than more sophisticated plots involving several people. "I would suggest the threat has evolved to a state which is much more challenging and concerning for law enforcement," Mr. Paulson told senators.

Mr. Paulson also spoke to senators about the attack a week earlier, by Martin Couture-Rouleau, that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Quebec. Mr. Paulson said several RCMP officials were "personally engaged" with Mr. Couture-Rouleau and that the RCMP were "very aggressive in terms of trying to engage and monitor him." After Monday's attack, those RCMP officers were shaken. "They were horrified – horrified – that things had happened, as were all Canadians, but they were heavily invested in this man," Mr. Paulson said.

Mr. Paulson made his comments on a day the government tabled a bill, C-44, aimed at boosting the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency. Mr. Paulson also called on government to give police more power to detain and monitor terror suspects. by reducing how much evidence is required.

With a report from Colin Freeze

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Cannabis pro newsletter