TIME faith

Hey, Canada: I Am a Muslim Convert, Not an Extremist

When asked about my religion, authorities assume I'm being manipulated

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

A few months ago I was applying for a job when I was suddenly required to attend an in-person interview with a member of the intelligence services. I was interviewed by a white male, who very politely went on to ask me questions for the next two hours. The most puzzling part of the interview though was that I suddenly saw my life through a very gendered lens.

I was asked about my conversion to Islam and whether or not a “boyfriend” had tried to recruit me for the purposes of “extremist activities.” I was also encouraged to provide a list of people who I thought could potentially be “radicalized.” The cherry on top was that he said that as a woman I am much more susceptible to “influencing” because women who are in-love do “inappropriate” things. Leaving aside the fact that the guy automatically assumed that I was heterosexual and that there was a man in my life, I felt quite confused.

To make things worse, the same story and questions were repeated in the context of my Latin American background and my mother’s activism with Indigenous communities. What it came down to was that I, as a woman of multiple identities, could be a threat, but I could also be a valuable ally against “extremists.” Now, keep this point in mind. In the 80s Latin Americans were their time’s radicals. These days the List of Terrorist Entities in Canada mostly targets Middle-Eastern and North African organizations; however, Latin American revolutionary movements featured heavily in this list, and even now former involvement with a revolutionary movement can be problematic for immigration purposes. In addition, today Indigenous communities continue to be seen with suspicion because of sovereignty movements and anti-capitalist approaches. Yet, “extremism” is not new to Canada (Here are a few examples).

Weeks after my interview, following another attack against military personnel, Canada’s Parliament was attacked. Several theories about the perpetrator were given throughout the day, but little information was publically available. But finally the identity of the shooter was released: Michael Zehaf-Bibeau , a convert to Islam, had attempted an attack against Canada. As the events unfolded, I wrote a piece in my blog, as I feared that Muslims would be put, once more, at the centre of political discourses about “extremism” and “terrorism” followed by anti-Muslim sentiments.

The Muslim community was quick to act in an attempt to proactively show their commitment to peace and to Canada. Several media sources showed how Muslims across the country condemned the Ottawa shootings. The Global News, CBC and CTV have featured pieces showing Muslims standing up against extremism. A social-experiment video was applauded in media outlets after it “demonstrated” that Canadians are not Islamophobic despite the earlier attacks; and pictures of solidarity among community members circulated widely after a Cold Lake mosque was vandalized, and the community (Muslims and non-Muslims) got together to erase the graffiti.

But other processes are taking now place. Muslim leaders across the country (mostly male), in an attempt to disassociate themselves from extremism, have released a number of documents that have put many Muslims at odds. In partnership with the RCMP (Police services) they released “United Against Terrorism,” a handbook outlining the difference between jihad and terrorism, and providing Muslim parents with tips on how identify “radicalization” among children and youth. In theory, it may sound like a good idea… However, when the handbook is religion-specific and it is published in partnership with the same institutions that perpetuate racial profiling and criminalization of Muslims in Canada it only propagates the idea that Muslims are violent terrorists and a danger to the country.

Interestingly enough, the handbook mentions the word women only three times, and the word “girl” is never mentioned, the assumption being that girls and women are less likely to be “radicalized.”

In the past I have talked about how female converts to Islam are often depicted in the media. Images of brainwashed, almost-fakely-modest women permeate these portrayals. Female converts are infantilized in an attempt to take away the agency of their conversion. What is more, Muslim women, converts or not, who take up violent conflict, are seen less as agents than their male counterparts. But gender issues aside, the handbook was so problematic that even the RCMP withdrew its support.

Now, Muslim leaders are trying different things to appease the government and, to some degree, the communities across Canada that continue to display anti-Muslim sentiments. In Calgary, an imam has created a background checklist to determine a convert’s likelihood of becoming radicalized. Once more, a good idea in theory, except that, what are you going to do with those who are flagged as potential “radicals”? Not let them convert? Or call the police? On what grounds?

The Islamic Supreme Council also published an information document warning converts against “extremism” and “radicalization.” Once more, women do not feature here (except in two instances), and the tone maintains the infantilization of converts. It turns out that some of us are deemed as ‘right’ sources of Islam, while others not so much… Yet, at the heart of the issue is that it almost seems like a scapegoat strategy. Muslim converts are now “the other” even in Muslim communities.

God forbid we deconstruct the terms “extremism” and “radicalization” to recognize their political use. God forbid we talk about political, economic, social and mental health-related issues when discussing “extremism” and “radicalization.” And God forbid that for once converts to Islam, particularly women, are attributed any kind of agency or knowledge. The sad part is the above documents have some support from Muslims, who think that “screening” converts is the way to go. As if the meanings of “radical” and “extremism” weren’t political and contextual, and as if exclusion played no part in acts of violence.

The question is, how is the marginalization of converts the answer to Islamophobia?

Eren Arruna Cervantes is a writer for Muslimah Media Watch and a university student whose research focuses on the politics of gender and women in organized religions.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME vintage color photos

Northern Lights: Vintage Color Photos of Nature’s Great Light Show

Celebrating the glorious northern lights with a series of color pictures made by J.R. Eyerman in northern Canada in 1953

“Of all the pageantry of the atmosphere,” LIFE noted in a June 1953 issue, “the most awesome and, as man has often thought, most fearful, are the auroras—the ghostly streamers of colored light that appear on certain nights, usually in spring and fall, and spread upward from the horizon to the zenith, sometimes projected in shifting rays like searchlight beams, sometimes diffused in shimmering veils and curtains, sometimes dancing and pulsating like the flames of some unutterable cosmic fire.”

Here, six decades later, LIFE.com pays homage to those “ghostly streamers” with a series of pictures made by J.R. Eyerman (called “Jay Eyerman” in that long-ago issue of the magazine) in northern Canada. In fact, Eyerman—who entered the University of Washington when he was 15 to study engineering—made these photos using a technique he himself devised.

[See all of LIFE’s photography galleries]

In the 1957 book, LIFE Photographers: Their Careers and Favorite Pictures, author Stanley Rayfield notes that “Eyerman’s technical innovations have helped push back the frontiers of photography. He perfected an electric eye mechanism to trip the shutters of nine cameras to make pictures of an atomic blast; devised a special camera for taking pictures 3600 feet beneath the surface of the ocean; successfully ‘speeded up’ color film to make previously impossible color pictures of the shimmering, changing forms and patterns of the aurora borealis.”

The results, both technically and aesthetically, are glorious.

(Note: We’ve included a few of Eyerman’s black and white shots of the northern lights in this gallery, as we feel there’s something starkly beautiful about those pictures, too.)

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Terrorism

U.S. Military Ups Vigilance as Fears Mount of Fresh ISIS-Inspired Attacks

William Mayville
Cliff Owen—AP Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., speaks about the operations to target the Khorasan Group in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon.

Defense officials are fearful that their personnel may be targeted after receiving public threats from terrorists operating in the Middle East

The American military is warning service members and their families to be a bit more vigilant amid threatens directed from or inspired by ISIS, according to a report on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers and service members were described by the Pentagon, in an internally circulated memo last week, as “legitimate targets” by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the Military Times reports. The message came days after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, killing one soldier.

The Marine Corps was also reported to send out an announcement that called on troops to report “even the most minor suspicious activity” and to be prudent when posting updates on social media. And officials at MacDill Air Force Base, overseeing the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa, Fla., were said to have instructed troops to keep a low profile and avoid public affiliation with the military.

According to a dossier compiled for the U.N. Security Council, an estimated 15,000 individuals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS and other militant organizations. The large number of fighters receiving training with such groups has raised fresh fears in the U.S. and abroad of domestic attacks should they return home.

[Military Times]

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 31, 2014

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Tomas van Houtryve’s beautiful yet ominous aerial photographs. In response to a lax visual record of American drone strikes — from Somalia to Yemen to Pakistan — the Belgian photographer got creative, piloting a small drone over events or locations in the U.S. that mimicked ones targeted by the military. The result is a clever way of bringing home a side of a far-away war that is rarely shown.


Tomas van Houtryve: Blue Sky Days (The New York Times Lens)

Diana Walker’s Hillary Clinton Photographs (TIME LightBox) Here’s a selection of images from Walker’s new book on the former First Lady and Secretary of State, accompanied by a fascinating video in which the photographer talks about the work. She has been documenting Clinton for more than 20 years.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim: Sleeping With the Devil (Vantage — Medium) Compelling photographs of the First Nation community of Cree and Dene tribes in Canada, whose traditional way of life is threatened by Big Oil.

Brian Finke: Cuisine for a Cruise (The New Yorker Photo Booth) Catering for a luxury cruise ship and its thousands of passengers isn’t a task done easily.

Frederik Buyckx (Verve Photo) The young Belgian photographer writes about one of his signature images taken in Rio de Janeiro.

Davide Monteleone (Monocle) The photographer talks about his Chechnya work, currently exhibited at Saatchi gallery in London. Starts at 12:50 minutes in.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME

Pictures of the Week: Oct. 24 – Oct. 31

From the encroaching lava of the Hawaii volcano to the U.S. Marines withdrawal from Helmand Province, Afghanistan and the World Series victory for the San Francisco Giants to a terrifying Tokyo Halloween, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

TIME world affairs

Canada’s Homegrown Terrorist Awakening

CANADA-ATTACKS-POLITICS-PARLIAMENT
GEOFF ROBINS—AFP/Getty Images Soldiers lock the gates at the John Weir Foote V.C. Armouries in Hamilton, Ontario, October 22, 2014 after a soldier believed to be from the base was killed in an attack in Ottawa.

Stewart Bell is Senior Reporter at Canada’s National Post newspaper.

Authorities have stepped up efforts against Islamist extremists, which has resulted in a new type of threat: seething anti-Western fanatics trapped in Canada, who decide to strike at home instead

TORONTO—Christianne Boudreau was at her wits’ end when I first spoke to her in June 2013. Her son Damian Clairmont, a bright but emotionally troubled 21-year-old, had left Canada the previous November. A Muslim convert, he had said he wanted to study Arabic in Cairo.

But then a pair of Canadian intelligence officers came to Mrs. Boudreau’s townhouse in Calgary and broke the news: Damian was not in Egypt, he was in Syria. “I had no idea,” she said. “I was totally oblivious to it. You’re in Canada, you think everything’s safe and fine here.”

After a week that saw two members of the Canadian Forces killed in separate terrorist attacks carried out by men who, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, claimed responsibility for their actions in the name of their extremist beliefs, few Canadians are feeling that way anymore.

Canada’s awakening began on the morning of Oct. 20, when Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, an online supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, waited for two hours at a strip mall near a military training center in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, before running down two soldiers with his Nissan Altima, killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53.

Chased by police, Couture-Rouleau called 911 and claimed the attack in the name of Allah before flipping his car into a ditch. He was shot dead as he came at officers with a knife. The RCMP said later he was “known” to them; they had seized his passport in July as he was trying to leave for Turkey, the transit country for foreign fighters on their way to Syria.

In Ottawa two days later, Michael Zehaf Bibeau, 32, opened fire on reservists standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, killing Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. He then ran into the nearby Parliament buildings, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was chairing a caucus meeting, before being fatally shot by Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, a former Mountie.

While Zehaf Bibeau’s mother said her son was a mentally unbalanced drug addict, “an unhappy person at odds with the world,” the RCMP said he had left behind a video recording in which, appearing “lucid” and “purposeful,” he said his attack was conducted in the name of Allah and a response to Canadian foreign policy.

If the attacks shocked many Canadians out of their sense of invulnerability, they shouldn’t have. Canadian police and intelligence have disrupted three major terror plots over the past eight years, most recently in April 2013 — all by Islamist extremists who believed Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan was an assault on their faith.

Months before last week’s violence, government officials had been warning that the rise of ISIS had bred a new generation of extremists who wanted to do Canada harm. Shortly before the attacks, the nation’s threat level had been raised and legislation had been drafted to give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service greater powers to track foreign fighters.

About 50 extremists have left Canada for Syria and surrounding countries, according CSIS. Another 90 or so have been identified as “high-risk travellers” who remain in Canada but have become radicalized to the point they want to travel to the region. Together with about 130 active in extremist groups elsewhere in the world and 80 “returnees,” it is a significant number — although not anything like what the United Kingdom and Germany are experiencing.

For some discontented youths, ISIS offers an appealing escape from reality. Spread across the country, Canada’s ISIS followers are young and, thanks largely to the Internet and social media, quick to radicalize. They see Canada as a place of sin and ISIS as their promised land. Many are converts who have little experience with Islamic teachings.

Once they buy into the simplistic ISIS worldview, their self-image seems to transform. They are no longer Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a chubby Somali-Canadian movie theatre popcorn vendor and small-time dope dealer from Calgary. They become, in Shirdon’s case, “Abu Usama,” a fighter who posed for selfies with his AK-47 and recorded videos threatening to terrorize the world.

Damian Clairmont had dropped out of school at age 14 and converted after swallowing a bottle of anti-freeze in a failed suicide attempt. In Syria, according to fellow jihadists, he joined the Al Nusrah Front and when it fractured, he went with ISIS. After meeting his mother, I began to speak with him, first on the phone, then over the Internet.

Over time, he opened up a bit, although only to justify the decisions he had made. He spoke about the afterlife and joked about the weather. “The ski masks here usually aren’t for the cold,” he wrote. He spoke about Canada as a place of evildoers wasting their lives in the pursuit of triviality, living in a delusion of freedom and democracy, too dumb to realize that the only thing was to serve God.

It was clear he had fallen into a very deep hole. He would occasionally contact his mother but she no longer recognized him. He wasn’t her son anymore. After not hearing from him for weeks, I sent him a message asking if he was still alive. He responded that he was “still waiting” for martyrdom. A month later he was killed in Aleppo during a clash between rival rebel factions.

The flow of Canadian youths to Syria prompted the RCMP to step up efforts to stop them. Police seized their passports and worked with their families and communities to talk them down from their fanaticism. But that has resulted in a new type of threat, which Canada experienced last week: seething anti-Western extremists trapped in Canada, who decide to strike at home instead.

Testifying before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence on Monday, Michael Peirce, the CSIS Assistant Director Intelligence, said the danger Canada faced was not an ISIS-orchestrated plot but rather “individuals being radicalized and encouraged to action.”

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the ISIS spokesman, no doubt had that in mind when he released an audio recording on Sept. 21 imploring his followers to kill Canadians and their allies. If unable to kill them, he said, spit in their faces. Analysts believe the Quebec attack at least was a response to ISIS propaganda that, according to Mubin Shaikh, a former undercover agent who helped stop terror plots in Toronto and Ottawa in 2006, “has awakened the zombies.” It has also roused something much more powerful: Canadians.

Stewart Bell is Senior Reporter at Canada’s National Post newspaper and the author of three nonfiction books, most recently Bayou of Pigs.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Canada

Watch: Canadian Police Hold News Conference on Ottawa Shooting

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.

TIME Canada

Canada Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers Hailed As Hero After Gun Attack

Ottawa On Alert After Shootings At Nation's Capitol
Handout—Getty Images In this handout photo provided by the PMO, Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Kevin Vickers, Sergeant-at-Arms, following his remarks in the House of Commons addressing the attacks in the Nation's Capital, on October 23, 2014 in Ottawa, Canada.

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.” …

Read the rest of the story at NBC News

TIME Canada

The Rise of the Lone Wolf Terrorist

An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014.
Sean Kilpatrick—AP An Ottawa police officer runs with his weapon drawn outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Oct. 22, 2014.

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.

Read next: The Ottawa Attack ‘Changes Everything’ and Hopefully Nothing at All

TIME Canada

Canadian Police Say Gunman Was Hoping To Go to Syria

A soldier locks the gates as flowers are placed at a memorial outside the gates of the John Weir Foote Armory, the home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Oct. 22, 2014, in memory of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo.
Aaron Lynett—AP A soldier locks the gates as flowers are placed at a memorial outside the gates of the John Weir Foote Armory, the home of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, on Oct. 22, 2014, in memory of Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo

"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.

Read next: The Ottawa Attack ‘Changes Everything’ and Hopefully Nothing at All

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