Quebec police at site of shooting..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
OTTAWA/MONTREAL - One of two Canadian soldiers run down by a car driven by a suspected Islamic militant has died, police said on Tuesday, the first such incident in Canada since the country joined the fight against Islamic State militants.
A police spokesman said the soldier died late on Monday. His name, age or rank were not released. The soldier was one of two walking near a Quebec strip mall when they were run down by the car on Monday morning.
Quebec police said the 25-year-old driver was shot and killed after a chase following the incident in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, around 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Montreal.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office said the man was known to federal authorities, and that there were clear indications he had become "radicalized." The government has used the term to refer to Canadians who supported militant Islamic groups.
Canadian media, citing police sources, identified the driver as Martin Couture-Rouleau, a resident of the Quebec town, and said he had a Facebook page under the name of Ahmad Rouleau. Reuters was unable to verify the identity of the driver.
A neighbor, speaking on condition that her name not be used, told Reuters that Rouleau became radicalized about a year ago after getting involved with extremist Muslims.
Many of the entries on the Ahmad Rouleau page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Baller.Qc?fref=ts) promote Islam as the true religion and Christianity and atheism as false, but some posts have a political tone.
He posted a quote from an early Muslim caliph, Umar Ibn Khattab: "I will not calm down until I will put one cheek of a tyrant on the ground and the other under my feet, and for the poor and weak I will put my cheek on the ground."
Another post had a symbol handwritten in Arabic which appears on the flag of the Islamic State militant group that proclaims that Mohammed is the prophet of Allah.
Canadian security officials have been worried for years about the potential threat of radicalized young men.
Canada is sending six fighter jets to take part in the US-led campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Television footage outside the house of Rouleau's father showed a police investigator leaving with a bag overnight.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has for years fretted about the dangers posed by home-grown extremists.
Jeff Yaworski, deputy director of operations at the spy agency, said on Monday the agency was worried that Islamic State's "message and successful social media strategy could inspire radicalized individuals to undertake attacks here in Canada."
He told legislators the CSIS was aware of at least 50 Canadians involved in terrorist-related activities with Islamic State and other militant groups in the region.
Ottawa said last week it planned to boost the powers of CSIS by giving it the ability to track and investigate potential terrorists when they traveled abroad.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Oct. 8 it was tracking 90 individuals who either intended to go abroad to join militant groups or had returned to Canada after taking part in terror-related activities.
The RCMP this year set up a series of Integrated National Security Investigations teams to focus on "individuals and entities that are a threat to national security." It said on Monday that Rouleau was known to its team in Montreal but gave no more details.
The La Presse
and Journal de Montreal
newspapers, citing unnamed sources, said Canadian authorities had confiscated Rouleau's passport earlier this year.
Employment Minister Jason Kenney told reporters on Monday that while the government had a lot of confidence in the ability of the security agencies to counter attacks, "it's impossible to prevent all of them."
The office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, who has overall responsibility for law and order in Canada, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.