Canada Parliament gunman had planned to travel to Syria: police

Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:01pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer, David Ljunggren and Leah Schnurr

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The gunman in Wednesday's attack on Canada's capital had a criminal record and recently applied for a passport, planning to travel to Syria after undergoing a "radicalization process," police said on Thursday.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, was a Canadian who may also have held Libyan citizenship, said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He said the suspect had no apparent links to another Canadian who killed a soldier in Quebec earlier in the week.

Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot a soldier at a national war memorial in the capital Ottawa on Wednesday before racing through the parliament building where he was shot dead near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with lawmakers.

Born in Montreal to a father from Libya and a Canadian mother, Zehaf-Bibeau had gone on to live in Calgary and Vancouver, police said.

"We need to investigate and understand his radicalization process. He is an interesting individual in that he had a very well developed criminality," Paulson said. "There is no one path or one formula to radicalization."

The RCMP had only learned of the suspect's interest in traveling to Syria when it interviewed his mother on Wednesday, the commissioner said.

U.S. officials said on Wednesday they had been advised Zehaf-Bibeau was a convert to Islam, the same as the assailant in Monday's attack, Martin Rouleau, 25, who ran over two Canadian soldiers with his car. Both attackers were shot dead.

"We have no information linking the two attacks this week," Paulson told reporters in Ottawa, which remained on high security alert. He said police expected to swiftly determine whether Zehaf-Bibeau received support in planning his attack.   Continued...

A man identified by Royal Canadian Mounted Police as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is seen October 22, 2014 as he exits a car and runs toward the Parliament buildings in a still image taken from surveillance video released by the RCMP October 23, 2014.   REUTERS/CBC via Reuters TV