Tags: Emerging Threats | War on Terrorism | Canada | terrorism | parliament | shootings | Ottawa

Canada Had Revoked Shooter's Passport, Citing High Risk

By    |   Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:14 AM

The 32-year-old Canadian shooter who gunned down an unarmed ceremonial guard standing watch at the Ottawa War Memorial on Wednesday before firing his way through the parliament had his passport seized after being designated a high-risk traveler and had also been expelled from his mosque, according to Canadian media reports.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, born Michael Joseph Hall in Quebec in 1982, was a convert to Islam with a criminal record who exhibited mentally unstable behavior, including a belief that the devil was after him, his friend Dave Bathurst told The Globe and Mail.

U.S. officials told CNN that it's unclear "when or why" Zehaf-Bibeau changed his name and when he made the conversion to Islam.

Bathurst told the newspaper that Zehaf-Bibeau frequently spoke about "the presence of Shaytan in the world — an Arabic term for devils and demons."

"I think he must have been mentally ill," Bathurst said.

Raised in both Ottawa and Montreal, Zehaf-Bibeau also spent time in Libya before moving to Western Canada to work as a miner and laborer. His father, Quebec businessman Belgasem Zahef, reportedly fought in the battle to overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The Globe and Mail cites a 2011 Washington Times story quoting Belgasem Zehaf as saying he traveled from Canada to join the rebels. He said he spent a month as a detainee at the Zawiyah oil terminal, where he witnessed torture.

The gunman's mother is Susan Bibeau, deputy chairwoman of a division of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board, according to the Globe and Mail.

The couple divorced in 1999.

By revoking his passport, the Canadian government feared Michael Zehaf-Bibeau would travel abroad to commit crimes, according to The Telegraph.

Bathurst and the gunman attended the same mosque, where Bathurst reported that his friend's "erratic" behavior led the elders there to ask Zehaf-Bibeau to stop attending prayer services. Bathurst did not give details about the alleged behavior.

Bathurst also recalled his friend calling police from the mosque a few years ago to tell them about a crime he committed years earlier. He was arrested at the mosque, according to the Globe and Mail.

About six weeks ago, he saw his friend at a Vancouver mosque, he said, and Zehaf-Bibeau told him he wanted to go to Libya to learn about Islam and to study Arabic.

"He urged his friend to make sure study was on his mind and 'not something else,'" Bathurst recalled.

Zehaf-Bibeau knew Vancouver resident Hasibullah Yusufzai, for whom there is an international warrant, according to Bathurst. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police charged Yusufzai in July with traveling to Syria to become a terrorist.

Zehaf-Bibeau had a rap sheet as well, CBC News reported.

He pleaded guilty to a 2004 drug possession charge and received a 60-day jail sentence.

He was also charged with robbery and uttering threats in Vancouver in 2011 and convicted of the lesser charge of uttering threats, for which he was sentenced to a day in jail, credited with 66 days already served, according to CBC News.

Zehaf-Bibeau had a psychiatric assessment following the robbery charge but was "found fit" according to the Globe and Mail.

A witness at the war memorial shooting told The Telegraph that after the shooting, the gunman — clad in all black with a scarf covering his nose and mouth and something over his head — "raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle" after the honor guard fell to the ground.

The dead solider has been identified as 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reserve infantryman and a father. Cirillo was carrying an unloaded rifle at the memorial.

A police officer inside the parliament building fatally shot Zehaf-Bibeau as he ran through the halls of the building firing his weapon.

On Monday, another Canadian man, Martin Couture-Rouleau, used his car to run over two soldiers near Montreal. One of the soldiers has died from his injuries.

Couture-Rouleau had been "radicalized" and posted jihadist messages on his Facebook account, where he had changed his name to "Ahmad," according to USA Today.

Canadian officials revoked his passport in July when he tried to travel to Turkey to fight in Syria. Couture-Rouleau was shot dead by police after he got out of a car wielding a knife following a pursuit. He reportedly told a 911 operator he was acting in the name of Allah, according to USA Today.

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The Canadian shooter who gunned down an unarmed guard at the Ottawa War Memorial on Wednesday before firing his way through the parliament had had his passport seized as a high-risk traveler and had also been expelled from his mosque, Canadian news reports say.
Canada, terrorism, parliament, shootings, Ottawa
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2014-14-23
Thursday, 23 October 2014 09:14 AM
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