Shot Canadian ‘planned immediate attack’

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) block the entrance to Park Street as they investigate the residence of Aaron Driver, a Canadian man killed by police on WednesdayImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPolice say Aaron Driver had planned to carry out a major attack

A man killed by police in the Canadian province of Ontario planned an attack within 72 hours, police said.

The FBI sent police a video appearing to show a person preparing for an attack, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Police quickly identified the suspect as Aaron Driver, 24, and apprehended him in a taxi in Strathroy.

Driver, who was known to authorities for supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS), was killed by police.

On Thursday, a news agency associated with IS called Driver a “soldier of the Islamic State”.

Mike Cabana, RCMP deputy commissioner, said the FBI alerted Canadian authorities early on Wednesday about an “unknown individual that was clearly in the final stages of planning an attack using a homemade explosive device” in Canada.

“Obviously it was a race against time,” Mr Cabana said.

“How quickly this was all established is actually a testament to the level of collaboration that exists between law enforcement agencies.”

The FBI said in a statement that the information provided to Canadian police was “actionable threat intelligence” and that the governments of Canada and the United States work closely to prevent violent attacks.

The tip included a “martyrdom” video purporting to show a masked suspect, later identified as Driver, saying he planned to detonate an explosive device in an urban centre during morning or afternoon rush hour.

Mr Cabana said it is still too early to say how the FBI obtained the video of Driver.

Police played the video at a news conference, showing a masked man denouncing Western “enemies of Islam,” making reference to the attacks in Paris and Brussels and pledging his support to IS.

Aaron Driver pictured in February 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionAaron Driver had been arrested before

“You will pay for everything you brought against us,” the suspect in the video said.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) first learned of Driver when he tweeted his support for IS under the alias Harun Abdurahman in October 2014.

Mr Cabana added that Driver had been in contact with a 15-year-old British boywho plotted to behead police officers at an Anzac Day parade in Australia.

Driver, who was arrested in Winnipeg last June for supporting IS on social media, was under a peace bond, or a court order restricting his movements.

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Conditions of his peace bond included restricting access to a computer, cell phone, mobile device, social media and prohibiting him from having any contact with IS or other terrorist groups.

He was ordered to wear a GPS tracking device, but it was removed earlier this year.

Though his movements were restricted, RCMP officials said that he was not under constant surveillance.

Police said Driver detonated a device in the back of a taxi, injuring him before he was killed by police. The taxi driver was also hurt.

Driver was about to detonate a second device when police shot him, according to the RCMP.

It is unclear if the shots were fatal or he was killed by shrapnel from the device, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander Jennifer Strachan said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided an image of the backseat of the taxi where Driver detonated an explosive device.Image copyrightROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Image captionPolice say they shot Driver before he detonated a second device

Toronto’s transit agencies had been notified of an unspecified security threat before the police confrontation, according to Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission.

It is unclear where Driver was travelling and whether it was to his intended target, police said.

RCMP also added there was no reason to believe Driver had any accomplices.

Leonard Tailleur, Driver’s former lawyer, described his former a client to the BBC as a “very passive person,” “respectful” and one of the best clients he has ever had.

Mr Tailleur, who represented Driver in 2015 but has not seen him since February, said his client had never indicated he would engage in terrorist activities.

The national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at a “medium,” which it has been at since 2014.


How do countries handle terror suspects?

  • Canada – Peace bond: A protection order made by a criminal court that requires a person to remain on good behaviour for a period of time, which means they cannot be charged with any additional criminal offences
  • UK – TPIMs (Terrorism Prevent and Investigation Measures) imposed by the Home Secretary and then approved by the High Court. It is a means aimed at disrupting an individual involved in terrorism-related activity who cannot be prosecuted and/or deported. Measures range from a requirement to stay at home overnight to limits on the use of telephones and computers, a requirement to wear an electronic tag and reporting to police
  • US – Probation: For people convicted of terrorism-related charges who do not receive life sentences, US courts typically require that they undergo a period of supervised release by a probation officer after their sentence ends. Terms can include withholding their passport or banning them from possessing explosive materials.