OTTAWA (Reuters) - The gunman who shot and killed a soldier in Canada’s capital and then stormed Parliament last year said he was retaliating against Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a video recording released on Friday.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau made the short video on his mobile phone just before launching his attacks on Oct. 22. A Canadian convert to Islam, he died in a gun battle with police and security guards shortly after entering the Parliament building in Ottawa.
“To those who are involved and listen to this movie, this is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because (Canadian Prime Minister Stephen) Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” Zehaf-Bibeau said in a calm voice on the video, which police played to a committee of legislators.
“So we are retaliating, the Mujahedin of this world ... just aiming to hit some soldiers just to show that you’re not even safe in your own land, and you gotta be careful,” he said.
Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, struck three weeks after Canada decided to deploy forces against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Two days earlier, another convert to Islam rammed and killed a soldier in Quebec with his car.
Canada maintained a military mission in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2011.
Harper cited the attacks and the threat of “jihadist terrorism” as reasons for a tough new security bill the Conservative government unveiled in January.
Critics say the bill - which would give Canada’s spies greater powers to disrupt attacks - is too sweeping.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson did not say if the police probe into the attacks had determined whether Zehaf-Bibeau was acting alone.
“But I am persuaded that he was influenced by other individuals toward this crime so in that sense I am of the view that there were other individuals involved,” he told reporters.
Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a long knife strapped to his wrist during the attack, had become “increasingly aligned with terrorist ideology”. He said the attack could have been prevented if Zehaf-Bibeau’s associates had reported these signs to authorities.
Citing operational reasons, Paulson said 13 seconds had been edited from the start of the video and five from the end.
Zehaf-Bibeau said in the video: “We’ll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country ... and stop going to other countries and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries.”
The gunfight with Zehaf-Bibeau took place in the hallway just outside the room where Paulson spoke on Friday. Conservative legislators meeting there during the attack had barricaded themselves in.
An autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in Zehaf-Bibeau’s body, Paulson said, adding that while he had a history of mental illness, there was no evidence that played a role.
Paulson said a renewed focus on preventing attacks was close to over-stretching the RCMP, which has put 130 investigators and staff on the Zehaf-Bibeau case alone.
Six hundred staff have been transferred into counter-terrorism, casting doubt on the sustainability of other programs, he said.
Writing by David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer; Editing by Peter Galloway