A man who was shot and killed in a confrontation with police in the province of Ontario was allegedly planning to attack a major Canadian urban centre, the national police force said on Thursday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the FBI alerted them on Wednesday that a person was planning to attack an urban centre in Canada within 72 hours during morning or afternoon rush hour.
The RCMP identified that person as Aaron Driver, 24, a man living in southern Ontario who was already on the Canadian authorities’ radar for allegedly sympathising with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.
Driver was killed in a violent confrontation with police on Wednesday near his home in Strathroy, Ontario.
He had detonated a homemade explosive device in the back of a taxi before he was killed, the RCMP said.
“The cab driver sustained minor injuries and the suspect died during his engagement with police,” Commanding Officer Jennifer Strachan said in a press conference in Ottawa.
The incident “ended rather tragically, but could have [had] a completely different ending with significantly greater loss of life”, Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana said.
“We actively engaged relevant Canadian law enforcement and security agencies, asking them to exercise an increased level of vigilance and to be on the lookout for anything that appeared somewhat suspicious,” Cabana added.
‘Spill the blood’
The FBI tip included a video, which was shown during the news conference. It shows a man wearing a balaclava over his face and threatening to “spill the blood” of Canadians.
“Oh, Canada. You have received many warnings. You were told many times what would become of those who come against the Islamic State,” the man in the video said.
The Canadian authorities alleged that Driver espoused support for ISIL on social media, where police said he was also known by the alias Harun Abdurahman.
In 2015, Driver was placed under a peace bond, a court-ordered measure that allows Canadian authorities to impose restrictions on a person it suspects will commit an act of terrorism.
The conditions of Driver’s peace bond changed last February and an electronic bracelet he had been wearing was removed, Cabana said.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, said that he discussed the actions taken by police with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“Earlier today, the RCMP received credible information regarding a potential terrorist threat and took action to ensure public safety,” he said in a statement.
Two separate attacks were carried out in Quebec and Ontario in 2014, and two Canadian soldiers were killed.
In an interview with CBC News in June 2015, Driver shared his thoughts on those incidents. He said there was a difference between attacks on Canadian security forces and civilians.
“If a country goes to war with another country, or another people, or another community, I think that they have to be prepared for things like that to happen. And when it does happen, they shouldn’t act surprised. They had it coming to them. They deserved it,” he said.