Canada police talked to militant suspect, couldn't stop attack

Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:38pm EDT
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By Allison Lampert

SAINT-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU Quebec (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Tuesday they had arrested a suspected militant as he was leaving the country, took away his passport and talked to him several times but had no chance of preventing him from killing a soldier.

Martin Rouleau, a 25-year-old who converted to Islam last year, rammed his car into two soldiers in the Quebec town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on Monday and was shot dead by police. A 53-year-old adjutant died in the attack.

The incident, the first fatal attack on Canadian soil tied to Islamic militants, occurred after Canada announced this month it was joining the battle against Islamic State fighters who have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Rouleau was among 90 people being tracked by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on suspicion of taking part in militant activities abroad or planning to do so.

Martine Fontaine, the RCMP official who is responsible for national security matters in Quebec, said police had never come up with enough evidence to lay charges against Rouleau and could not have predicted the attack.

"We can't arrest somebody for having radical thoughts. It's not a crime in Canada," she told a news conference in Montreal.

"It was very difficult to prevent and stop him. Even if he had been under surveillance yesterday morning, we didn't know of his intention to use his car as a weapon," she said.

Fontaine said police had become aware of Rouleau in June when they studied his Facebook site and concluded he was becoming radicalized and wanted to leave Canada to fight abroad.   Continued...

Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, a member of the Joint Personnel Support Unit, Integrated Personnel Support Centre St-Jean, is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the Canadian Forces. Vincent was killed when a Canadian man rammed two soldiers in Quebec with his car. REUTERS/Canadian Forces/Handout