herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Face of Ottawa terror attack suspect

This is the masked gunman suspected of killing a soldier at a Canadian war memorial before storming the country's parliament.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who was shot dead by the ceremonial sergeant-at-arms yesterday in Ottawa, is the privately-educated son of Canada's immigration chief and is a recent Islamic convert

The slain 32-year-old suspected killer was a petty criminal - a man who had a religious awakening in recent years and seemed to have become mentally unstable, it is reported by Canada's Globe and Mail.

Born in Quebec as Michael Joseph Hall and raised in Laval, just north of Montreal, the young man lived a life of private schools and homes, with a mother who was a high-ranking federal employee.

shooter

Then, after years of run-ins with the law, he converted to Islam.

He was a known to the Canadian government as a "high-risk traveller", it has been reported.

Mr Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. The two were divorced in 1999.

Just before 10am yesterday morning a shooter opened fire on a guard at the National War Memorial opposite Parliament Hill, killing Corporal Nathan Cirillo with a rifle at what witnesses described as point-blank range.

The gunman is believed to have then got into a car and driven up to the main Parliament Centre Block building, where he engaged in a gun battle with police and was shot dead by the 58-year-old sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

Michael Joseph Hall appeared to rebel against his privileged background in recent years.

Quebec courthouse records show that he had at least 13 cases against him.

According to local CTV News, the Canadian federal government had deemed Zehaf-Bibeau a "high-risk traveller" and said that officials had seized the suspect's passport.

In 2004, he was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of PCP. He spent 61 days in jail for the two charges.

Last night Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vowed to redouble the country's fight against "terrorist organizations" abroad.

threats

"This will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats," he said in a televised address to the nation.

On Monday a convert to Islam ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one, near Montreal. Both attacks took place after Canada announced this month it would send six jets to take part in air strikes against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Canada's deployment to Iraq would go on unimpeded.

Officials said the Parliament was due to reopen at 10am today.

Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement tweeted that he would convene a regularly scheduled meeting and added "#terroristsbedamned".

Clement and hundreds of legislators had spent about 10 hours locked up in the Parliament as police searched the building.

Ottawa police warned the public to expect an increased presence by officers in coming days in the national capital.

hnews@herald.ie

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