Islamic Militancy

Canada terror incident: Islamic State supporter reportedly shot dead in Ontario after detonating device

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 12:54pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2016, 9:57pm

Canadian police killed a man on Wednesday, national television news channels reported, after the police said they had identified a suspect after receiving “credible information of a potential terrorist threat”.

The suspect was killed during a police raid in a small Ontario town, CTV News and CBC News reported. The London Free Press said the man detonated a device that injured himself and another person, and that he was about to detonate a second device when police shot him dead.

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“Earlier today, the RCMP received credible information of a potential terrorist threat. A suspect was identified and the proper course of action has been taken to ensure that there is no danger to the public’s safety,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement.

They did not say where the incident took place.

Intelligence sources said the suspect was Aaron Driver, who was arrested last year for openly supporting the Islamic State militant group on social media. The sources declined to be identified because they did not have permission to speak to the media.

A senior police official meanwhile said the suspect allegedly planned to use a bomb to carry out a suicide bombing mission in a public area but was killed in a police operation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak about details ahead of a Thursday news conference, also identified the suspect as Driver.

The intelligence sources said Driver, who also uses the alias Harun Abdurahman, lives in Strathroy, Ontario, a small community some 225km southwest of Toronto.

Driver’s death was not yet officially confirmed and his lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

Driver had not been charged with a crime but in February he was placed on a peace bond, a court order that restricted his movements, required that he stay away from social media and computers and not have contact with Islamic State or similar militant groups.

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He said in February he did not think Canadians should fear him and that people should not be persecuted for their political beliefs, according to CBC news.

Reports emerged on Twitter late on Wednesday that police had raided a home in Strathroy and that it was tied to the RCMP threat incident. “Heavy RCMP and police presence at Park St home in Strathroy,” London Free Press reporter Jennifer Biemen tweeted.

Irene Lee, whose parents own a convenience store near Driver’s home, said police arrived on the quiet residential street shortly after 4pm and quickly surrounded the house.

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“I hear a bomb sound, like a ‘bang’ - I was freaking out because this is a small and quiet town,” she said. “All of a sudden the policemen were yelling, ‘everyone get into your houses’.”

Lee said police were still outside and had told her they would likely be there all night.

Canada’s public safety minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement released late on Wednesday the public had been “properly protected” following a national security threat, and that he had briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He said Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level remained unchanged at “medium”.

A spokeswoman at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada’s spy agency, declined to comment on the arrest, referring all queries to the RCMP.

The RCMP said in its statement the investigation was still underway and it would not provide further comment.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he had discussed the incident with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and that the security forces had acted effectively.

“Canadians can be confident that whenever credible information is obtained about a potential terrorist threat, the RCMP, CSIS and other police and security agencies take the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of this country and its citizens.

“These agencies conducted themselves effectively in the circumstances that developed today,” he said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse