OTTAWA (Reuters) - The man who shot and killed a Canadian soldier in October and then stormed the country’s Parliament with a rifle before being shot down himself, had taken a tour of the building less than three weeks earlier, a parliamentary spokeswoman said on Friday.
The information suggests that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Muslim convert who struggled with drug addiction, may have planned the Oct. 22 attack well in advance.
Heather Bradley, spokeswoman for House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer, confirmed that Zehaf-Bibeau is shown on video footage taking a tour of the Parliament building on Oct. 4.
Such tours take the public into the central Hall of Honour, down which Zehaf-Bibeau ran on Oct. 22 with a gun and a knife, past the room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with his Conservative caucus.
Zehaf-Bibeau was shot dead outside the Library of Parliament at the end of the Hall of Honour, not far from the Conservative caucus room and another room where opposition New Democratic Party legislators were meeting.
Police have said Zehaf-Bibeau made a video of himself beforehand saying he was motivated by his opposition to Canadian foreign policy. Police said the video, which has not been released to the public, also showed he had religious motives.
The attack came the same week that the Canadian government sent jet fighters to the Middle East to take part in air strikes against Islamic State militants.
In the wake of Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack, current and former intelligence and police officials told Reuters that they did not have the resources to track closely all the Islamic extremists who may pose a threat in Canada.
Police have said that Zehaf-Bibeau was not under surveillance at the time of the attack. A U.S. government source told Reuters that he was regarded as a threat by Canadian authorities but not enough to warrant constant surveillance.
With additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Bernadette Baum and Peter Galloway