Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Canada: Recent Convert to Islam Kills Canadian Soldier, Attacks Another, Assailant Shot, Killed

According to The Associated Press, a young convert to Islam who killed a Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he attempted to travel to Turkey, authorities said Tuesday (October 21).

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the attack Monday (October 20) was "clearly linked to terrorist ideology." Québec police spokesman Guy Lapointe said the act was deliberate and that one of the two soldiers was in uniform.

Police said the suspect, Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, called 911 to report his hit-and-run as police chased him in the Québec city of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu. He later was shot and killed by police after his car flipped over into a ditch and he brandished a knife as he exited  the vehicle. 

A second soldier suffered minor injuries in the attack.

Couture-Rouleau, 25, was one of 90 people in the country suspected of intending to join fights abroad or who have returned from overseas, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Bob Paulson.

He first came to attention of authorities in June 2014 because of Facebook postings that depicted his radicalization and wanted to leave the country to fight, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Supt. Martine Fontaine.

Police seized Couture-Rouleau's passport at the airport in July 2014 when he attempted to travel to Turkey, Fontaine said. He was arrested and questioned, but there wasn't enough evidence to charge him with a crime, she said.
Fontaine said police subsequently met with him several times, including as recently as Oct. 9, when she said he indicated that wanted to take steps to change. They also met his parents and the imam of his mosque and attempted to exert a positive influence over him.

COMMENT: Unfortunately, the increase in unprovoked and potentially deadly attacks on the part of radicalized Muslims in all countries warrants that all citizens be cautious and observant when interacting with Muslims who may pose a risk to the safety of all nationalities.

Caution is particularly urged in interacting with Muslims who demonstrate the following characteristics:

a. Those having beards;

b. Wearing Muslim apparel;

c. Making eye contact with Muslims in order to discern their intention to inflict bodily harm;

d. Those carrying weapons of any type; and

e. Being observant of potentially violent intentions on the part of such persons. 

"Many interventions with Couture-Rouleau were carried out to try and avoid tragic events," Fontaine said. "It's very difficult when someone is planning an act alone and there is no obvious preparation involved and uses a vehicle as a weapon."

She said they couldn't arrest him for having radical thoughts.

It was unknown whether Couture-Rouleau had any direct links to Islamic militant groups.

"He was part of our investigative efforts to try and identify those people who might commit a criminal act traveling abroad for terrorist purposes," Paulson said.
Canada raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday (October 21) due to "an increase in Internet chatter from radical Islamist organizations like IS, al-Qaeda, al-Shabab and others who pose a clear threat to Canadians," said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.

Nobody answered the door at Couture-Rouleau's single-story white brick home in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, where he lives with his father.

Over the past year or so,  Couture-Roleau grew his beard and began wearing loose-fitting Muslim clothing, but that he never felt threatened by him. Couture-Roleau's father was worried as he became increasingly radicalized and "tried everything" to help him.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the slain soldier, 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was a 28-year veteran with "distinguished service."

"This was a despicable act of violence that strikes against not just this soldier and his colleagues, but frankly against our very values as a civilized democracy," Harper said in Parliament.

Lapointe said the suspect sat in his car in the parking lot outside a veterans' support center for at least two hours before the hit and run. He said the other soldier is in stable condition with minor injuries.

The case is similar to one in London last year in which an al-Qaeda-inspired extremist and another man ran over a soldier with a car before hacking the off-duty soldier to death.
Images of Michael Adebolajo, 29, holding a butcher knife and cleaver with bloodied hands in the moments after the May 2013 killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby shocked people around the world and sparked fears of Islamic terrorism in Britain. 

The Islamic State (IS)  has urged supporters to carry out attacks against Western countries, including Canada, that are participating in the US-led coalition fighting the militants who have taken over large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. Eight Canadian fighter jets, including two spares, are set to depart for the region on Tuesday (October 21).

US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf condemned the attack and said they have been in touch with Canadian officials. "We deplore acts of violence toward military and law enforcement, and stand ready to assist our Canadian partners as they investigate this act," Harf said.

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