Police are holding a news conference Thursday afternoon, a day after a gunman fatally shot Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while he was standing guard at Ottawa’s War Memorial before being gunned down by police.
The sergeant-at-arms of the Canadian Parliament was hailed as a national hero Thursday, credited with shooting and killing the man who gunned down a soldier and sprinted into the halls of Parliament.
Kevin Vickers was given huge and sustained applause as lawmakers returned to business. He said later in a statement that he was “very touched.”
“Yesterday, during extraordinary circumstances, security personnel demonstrated professionalism and courage,” he said. “I am grateful and proud to be part of this team.” …
Ottawa shooting appears to be the latest in a series of attacks carried out by individuals with no clear link to terrorist groups
The shooting death of a Canadian soldier outside Parliament in Ottawa, by a suspect named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who was then killed inside the building, appears to be the latest in a series of “lone wolf” attacks inspired by radical Islam.
Wednesday’s attack happened two days after authorities said Martin Rouleau-Couture drove his car into two military members, killing one before he was fatally shot by police, and a month after Alton Nolen beheaded a co-worker in Nebraska. All three appeared to be recent converts to Islam.
There is no official confirmation that any of these attacks are considered to be direct retaliation for the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) but Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, described the violent actions of Rouleau as “clearly linked to terrorist ideology”.
The country raised its terror alert from low to medium last Friday not because of a specific threat but in response to an increase in online “general chatter” from extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. A few weeks ago, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, released a video calling for more individual acts of violence against soldiers and civilians in “countries that entered into a coalition” against the group, encouraging ISIS supporters to “kill them wherever you find them.”
However, the roots of the lone wolf phenomenon go back further than this appeal. “It’s obvious that lone wolf terrorism has increased in the past few years, but that was already the case before ISIS came into existence.” says Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence in London. “It was adopted as a deliberate strategy by al-Qaeda in the late 2000s” and was repeatedly encouraged by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical preacher based in Yemen, who wrote in the online al-Qaeda magazine Inspire: “It is better to support the prophet by attacking those who slander him than it is to travel to land of Jihad like Iraq or Afghanistan.” Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.
Timeline of Lone Wolf Terrorist Attacks
June 2009: Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad shoots and kills a soldier outside Arkansas recruiting station, claiming retribution for the killing of Muslims by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
November 2009: U.S. Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan kills 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, saying he was driven by a hatred of American military action in the Muslim world.
February 2010: U.S. Pilot Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately crashes his aircraft into a building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one other. He posted a suicide note expressing displeasure with the “greed” of the U.S. government.
March 2011: Frankfurt airport shooting of two U.S. Airmen by Arid Uka, a devout Muslim who says he was radicalized by jihadist propaganda videos.
July 2011: Norwegian extremist Anders Breivik kills 77 people in a bomb attack in Oslo and a shooting spree on the island of Utøya to highlight his far-right beliefs.
March 2012: Mohammed Merah kills seven people (including three soldiers) in Toulouse, France. Merah said he was inspired by al-Qaeda.
April 2013: Dzhokar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev kill 3 people, injure more than 260 at the Boston Marathon. Dzhokar said the brothers were motivated by extremist Islamist beliefs.
May 2013: Two British-born converts to Islam, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale attack and kill a British soldier in London.
May 2014: Mehdi Nemmouche opens fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in the center of Brussels, killing 4 people. He is believed to have spent over a year in Syria with radical Islamists.
September 2014: An Oklahoma man with a criminal history, Alton Nolen, beheads a female co-worker after being fired. Authorities said Nolen had recently converted to Islam.
October 2014 : Canadian soldier dies in a hit-and-run in Quebec by Martin Rouleau-Couture. Two days later, another Canadian soldier is shot dead in Ottawa, allegedly by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man with a criminal record. Reports say both terrorists had recently converted to Islam.
ISIS has had a different approach as it wanted to recruit people to fight in Syria and Iraq. “It wasn’t about attacking the West, it was about building the Islamic State,” says Neumann. Now, U.S.-led air strikes mean that “it is yet again this old narrative of the West versus Islam,” he adds. While the group seeks direct confrontation with the West, it’s difficult to attack them in Iraq and Syria, since ground troops are not present. ISIS now thinks “the way to terrorize the West is asymmetrically: to strike out through individuals inside of Western countries and show the public the terrible price that they have to pay for the West’s involvement” in the conflict, Neumann continues.
Jamie Bartlett, head of the Violence and Extremism Program at London-based think tank Demos, believes that “the internet in the last few years has both increased the possibilities and the likelihood of lone-wolf terrorism.” He says it has made it a great deal simpler for one individual to learn about radical ideologies as well as acquire skills like bomb-making, lowering the barrier to participation in a broader, global network of extremism: “Terrorists usually operate within a group, even if only a very small group, but it’s far easier now to be able to go it entirely alone.”
Neumann says that lone wolves are more likely to suffer from social isolation and mental health problems than “normal” terrorists. This can make them harder to detect than groups. “This will undoubtedly be one of the lures of the tactic,” says Matthew Francis, a researcher on radicalization and extremism at Lancaster University in the U.K.
Speaking about the Canadian car killing case earlier this week, Superintendent Martine Fontaine of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said “it’s very difficult to know exactly what an individual is planning to do before a crime is committed. We cannot arrest someone for thinking radical thoughts; it’s not a crime in Canada.” As well as trying to prevent their citizens from joining extremist groups like ISIS abroad, Western governments now also face another dilemma when dealing with the threat of home-grown terrorism. Canadian authorities suspected Rouleau of becoming radicalized and the police seized his passport when he tried to leave for Syria. Zehaf-Bibeau, the suspected killer in Wednesday’s Ottawa attack, intended to travel abroad but was stopped and had his passport confiscated. “Often people’s decisions to fight at home comes from being stopped going to fight elsewhere,” says Francis. Neumann adds that lone-wolf attacks appeal not only to returnees — those who have come back from fighting alongside ISIS — but also “fanboys,” or those who would like to join the ISIS community but who have, for one reason or another, not made it to the battlefield.
Nevertheless, experts agree that most lone wolves are unlikely to kill large numbers of people. “The only lone wolf who killed a lot of people was not a jihadist,” says Neumann. “It was Anders Breivik in 2011 in Norway, who was very sophisticated, a good planner. He acted all on his own and pulled off a massive operation killing 77 people,” he adds. “Typically, lone wolves do one attack, killing one or two people, because they do not have the expertise or sophistication.” Moreover, Bartlett suggests a rise in lone wolf acts can be seen to represent an increased success in counterterrorism operations. As a result of increased intelligence work in stopping larger, plots like 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, he says, terrorist groups are “limited to conducting attacks that require very little training, very little preparation, very little communication.”
Yet while lone wolves may not pose the same kind of threat as those who organized attacks like 9/11, Neumann says their acts “have a profound effect in terms of the psychological impact on a society, creating tension, polarization and terror in societies.” Since even a very limited act of violence has the capacity to create terror, lone wolf terrorists represent a different challenge altogether for Western authorities from the terrorist cell plotting spectacular attacks.
"I think the passport figured prominently in his motives."
The suspected gunman who killed a Canadian soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before being killed himself Wednesday was waiting for a passport and hoping to travel to Syria, a top police official said Thursday.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson said the lone suspect, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian citizen who is reported to be a convert to Islam, was not previously under surveillance by Canadian authorities, but passport authorities had not yet determined whether to issue him a passport.
“I think the passport figured prominently in his motives,” Paulson said. There was no connection between the attack Thursday and an assault on Monday in Quebec, when a man ran over two soldiers, killing one before the assailant was gunned down by police, according to Paulson.
The slain soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was shot early Wednesday while on guard at Ottawa’s War Memorial, which stands just steps from Parliament Hill. The gunman then stormed Parliament itself, with shotgun blasts fired just outside the chamber where Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking to legislators before being hustled out of the building. A Globe and Mail reporter captured the following violent, but not graphic, footage from inside Parliament:
“We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper said in a televised address later Wednesday, adding that the incident will lead to a redoubling of Canada’s efforts to fight terrorism. Canada this month said it would send six jets to join the coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS.
President Barack Obama decried the attack on Wednesday as “outrageous,” telling reporters, “Obviously we’re all shaken by it.” Security was tightened at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington in light of the Ottawa shooting, the Associated Press reports.
Members of parliament gathered at the National War Memorial Thursday morning and then convened as scheduled on Thursday.
The Canadian capital has been shaken by the unprecedented attack at the National War Memorial, and yet is already showing its resilience
It was Canadian humor. On Oct. 21, I emailed an old friend in Ottawa. After updates on life and work and weather, I asked about what was happening in the capital these days. I once worked for the local paper and have fond memories of the city. But as a Toronto native, I could never admit that. “What’s the mood?” I ventured. “Does Ottawa even have moods?” You see, Ottawa is so safe and nice that even Canadians joke about how safe and nice it is.
Not today. At around 10 a.m. local time on the morning of Oct. 22, the heart of the Canadian capital came under attack. A man with a rifle approached and shot and killed 24-year-old Nathan Cirillo, a reservist standing guard at the National War Memorial, a granite cenotaph that memorializes fallen soldiers.
From there, a male suspect, now identified as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, seized control of a vehicle and drove to the nearby Parliament buildings. Set on rise above the Ottawa River, looking out on Quebec, the site is elegant, but exposed. The north of the complex is a grassy field, the site of group tours, Frisbee tosses and the occasional yoga class. The approach is open and welcoming. You can pretty much walk in.
When the gunman arrived, many members of Parliament (MPs), and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were gathered inside the Centre Block. Video shot by Josh Wingrove, a reporter for the Globe and Mail, shows police officers rushing in as shots ring through the building’s vaulted stone corridors. Politicians and journalists took cover in offices or under desks, live-tweeting the lockdown from their phones.
Though what happened next is still unclear, several top Canadian politicians reported that Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers, a retired veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, took down the shooter, potentially saving lives. The position of the sergeant at arms is part security, part ceremony, and involves carrying a ceremonial mace into the House of Commons. Vickers is already being hailed as a hero, and a most Canadian one at that: he is described as competent, community-minded, kind.
Outside the Gothic towers, police shut down swaths of the city’s core, and security personnel appeared on rooftops. By the standards of world capitals, Ottawa is very, very safe. When I worked as a journalist at the Ottawa Citizen, I covered more barn fires and county fairs more than murders (there were just nine homicides in 2013). There could have been panic. But footage from the scene shows police officers calmly asking commuters to take cover. Out of habit, they use “please.”
Local authorities released the name of the victim and a suspect, but did not speculate on motives just yet. The press, for the most part, was careful not to jump to conclusions in the hours after the gunfire, noting only that this was the second time in three days that members of Canadian security forces were targeted. (On Oct 20 an assailant ran over two soldiers in Quebec, killing on of them; it is being investigated as a potential terrorist attack.)
Across the border, media critics took note of the nonhysterical, fact-based live broadcasts. “Canada’s CBC News Shows What Thoughtful Breaking News Coverage Really Looks Like,” read one headline. “The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking news reporting,” observed a piece from Mother Jones.
For all its calm and restraint, Ottawa is clearly, and understandably, shaken. In an interview with the Canadian Press newswire, MP John McKay, who was on Parliament Hill during the attacks, said he could not even contemplate what came next. “This changes everything,” he said.
Everything, yes, and hopefully, nothing at all. For those affected and their families, all is different, darker. In the weeks and months to come, the country and the city will face questions about security. Questions about motive. There will be pointed fingers, grief and fear.
But already, the city is showing its best self. People are sending words of support to the victim’s family, praising the sergeant at arms, trying not to think, or say, the worst. Within hours, in tweets that would melt any Canadian’s heart, was the type of news that lets you know that good old Ottawa will be just fine: Minor hockey games are canceled. The Toronto Maple Leaf–Ottawa Senator showdown is delayed, for now.
When the smoke clears, they will play the game — and, hey, the Senators might actually win. Our capital, our lovely capital, lives to laugh another day.
A soldier was reportedly shot while guarding the War Memorial
Updated Wednesday 8:13 p.m. E.T.
Ottawa police said Wednesday afternoon that a member of the Canadian forces, identified by family members as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, is dead after being shot during what appears to be an armed attack on Canada’s capital city.
The shooting took place at the National War Memorial just outside Parliament earlier in the day. One male suspect reportedly named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also confirmed dead, the police said.
“Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and country,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday afternoon.
At least one gunman entered Parliament Wednesday morning about the time of the soldier’s shooting, witnesses told the Associated Press, while some later heard shots fired from within the building. Parliament was in session during the incident. A Globe and Mail reporter captured this footage of shots firing out as police swept Parliament following reports of the soldier’s shooting (warning: footage is violent but not graphic):
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quickly evacuated from the scene, the Globe and Mail reports. Harper was scheduled to meet with Pakistani youth-education activist Malala Yousafzai in Toronto Wednesday, but that meeting has since been canceled.
Ottawa police at first said there were three separate shooting events, but later reduced that number to two.
Ottawa police said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the situation is “fluid” and “ongoing,” giving few details beyond what has already been reported. They have asked the public to remain “vigilant,” and are warning people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops until the situation returns to normal. Those outside downtown Ottawa are being advised to stay away from the area.
In address to the nation Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister offered prayers to the grieving families, and said that the incident will strengthen the resolve of Canada and lead to a redoubling of efforts to fight terrorism around the globe. “Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper said.
President Barack Obama addressed the shooting following a meeting with aides on the Ebola epidemic. “Obviously we’re all shaken by it,” he told reporters. Obama said it was too early to determine motive, saying the U.S. does not yet know whether it was part of a coordinated plot or act of terrorism. Obama spoke on the phone Wednesday afternoon with Harper to express condolences to the family of the Canadian soldier who was killed and to the Canadian people as a whole.
Wednesday evening’s National Hockey League game scheduled to see the Ottawa Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs was postponed in light of the incident, the NHL said Wednesday.
— With reporting by Zeke J. Miller
Stéphanie Boudoin is being charged with 42 break-ins+ READ ARTICLE
A 21-year old Canadian woman charged with 114 counts of burglary is being called the “world’s sexiest criminal” after bikini-clad photos purportedly of the suspect circulated on social media.
Stéphanie Boudoin is accused of orchestrating 42 break-ins with her teenage accomplices, Le Journal de Montreal reports, as well as stealing nine firearms. She became known as the “world’s sexiest criminal” after this photo surfaced of her online:
She’s due in court in November.
Boudoin isn’t the first criminal heartbreaker. Earlier this year, Jeremy Meeks became “Hot Mugshot Guy” after his mugshot went viral, despite the fact that police in Stockton, Calif., say he’s one of the most dangerous criminals in the area.
The Toronto mayor has said he won't seek re-election amid health problems
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, his doctor said Wednesday.
Dr. Zane Cohen of Mount Sinai Hospital confirmed that Ford has a rare cancer that will be treated with chemotherapy, CTV reports. Ford is expected to make a complete recovery. Cohen said the mayor is in “some pain still” but that doctors are working to manage it.
Ford was initially hospitalized last week after complaining of intense abdominal pain and had been diagnosed with a tumor, but further details of his condition couldn’t be confirmed until a biopsy was conducted. Ford, who drew global headlines when he admitted to doing crack cocaine, said last week that he won’t be seeking re-election.
His brother Doug Ford is taking his place on the ballot
Embattled Toronto mayor Rob Ford has ended his bid for re-election after doctors found a tumor in his abdomen.
“I’m unable to continue my campaign for re-election as your Mayor,” Ford said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “With the advice of my doctors I know I need to focus on getting better.”
“People know me as a guy who faces things head on and never gives up, and as your Mayor I have done just that. I derailed the gravy train, cut unnecessary spending and made government more accountable. I did this by facing these challenges head on,” Ford added. “Now I could be facing a battle of my lifetime.”
Ford family representatives rushed to file papers ahead of the 2 p.m. deadline Friday to allow Rob’s brother, City Councillor Doug Ford, replace him on the ballot, the Toronto Star reports. Doug Ford will now run for mayor of the city in Rob Ford’s stead. Rob Ford will, in turn, run for Doug Ford’s Ward 2 City Council seat, a seat Rob held until Doug’s election in 2010. The Fords’ nephew Michael, who had been in contention to fill the Ward 2 seat being vacated by Doug, is expected to pull his name from consideration.
Ford was admitted to a hospital Wednesday after complaining of stomach pains. Doctors found a “fair size” tumor in his abdomen but can’t know for sure if it is cancerous for at least a week.
The news marks a dramatic watershed in Ford’s tumultuous and scandal-plagued term in office during which he was censured by the City Council after revelations of drug use followed by repeated instances in which he made graphic and off color remarks in public.
It's all taking place in Toronto
Sometimes, we all lose sight of the fight that before Drake was Drake, he was Aubrey Graham, a young actor on the Canadian teen drama series Degrassi.
Well, one Toronto resident is hoping to remind us of Drake’s roots by plastering pictures of his face on handicapped wheelchair signs around the city. (Drake, of course, played Jimmy, who was in a wheelchair after a shooting left him paralyzed from the waist down.)
Behind this trend — simply called “draking” — is journalist and blogger Lauren O’Neil. She told BuzzFeed that she and her boyfriend saw an accessibility sign on the subway recently and the idea just kind of came to them. Soon, they began “draking” all over town. “We just want to make people smile,” she said.
Man, that’s kind of a bummer. We were secretly hoping this was a viral campaign for some kind of Degrassi revival.