The attack on Canada's parliament has resulted in a virtual lockdown of the whole country. The 33-year-old gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was known to have a criminal record. He was shot and killed inside the parliament building after he fatally shot a soldier standing guard at the Canadian War Memorial earlier today. Why he was not captured alive is a big question. Crucial information could have been obtained from him.
Wednesday October 21, 2014, 20:09 DST
Regardless of the identity, background and motive of the perpetrator of the attack on Canada’s parliament today, two things are clear. Islamophobia will escalate further and Canadian civil liberties will be curtailed even more.
A third aspect is the boost in militarism, a policy hotly pursued by the government of Stephen Harper.
The gunman was named by US intelligence agencies as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 33. He was shot and killed inside the parliament building. It is interesting to note Canadian security agencies did not reveal his name or identity before the Americans did.
Zehaf-Bibeau was known to have a criminal record in Quebec and British Columbia. He entered parliament after shooting and seriously wounding a soldier standing guard at the Canada War Memorial. The soldier later died in hospital.
At least 20 to 25 shots were fired inside the parliament building, according to several MPs that were there for caucus meetings. This was the first time in Canada’s history that the parliament building was attacked. Throughout the day, this was the only news on all television channels and on the radio.
While patting themselves on the back for being present during the drama, Canadian MPs were full of praise for the security personnel as well.
It is a pity that the gunman was not captured alive. Much information could have been gleaned from him about his motives and whether there were any accomplices with him. Throughout the day, the police said they were looking for other suspects. None was found and by the end of the day, there was general consensus that the gunman had acted alone although the Americans insisted there were two accomplices with him. The question on everyone’s lips is: why?
Two days earlier, another gunman, Martin Rouleau, a 25-year-old “convert” to Islam drove his car into two Canadian soldiers near Montreal killing one and wounding another. Rouleau then escaped in his car with the police giving chase. His car crashed and the police shot and killed him. Why he was not captured alive is also the subject of much speculation.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the federal police force, said they had Rouleau under surveillance and in July had stopped him from boarding a flight to Turkey. He was allegedly planning to enter Syria from there to join the takfiri terrorists. Rouleau’s passport was withdrawn and the RCMP had talked to him only 10 days prior to the Montreal attack. According to the RCMP spokesperson, he had assured them he would modify his behaviour. Rouleau was known to be a loner and given his demeanour—he was muscularly built and frequented websites that carried takfiri terrorist propaganda—he seemed to be preparing for some violent act. The big question is whether he acted on his own or someone was manipulating him.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not in the parliament building at the time of the attack. He was preparing to welcome to Toronto Malala Yusufzai, the Pakistani girl who is this year’s joint recipient of the Nobel Peace prize with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.
The program at a Toronto school was cancelled because of the attack on parliament. Harper is to address Canadians at about 8:30 pm Toronto time.
As soon as news of the attack on the parliament building broke out, virtually the whole of Canada was put on lockdown. The US embassy in Ottawa was closed as was the Canadian embassy in Washington DC. Security was beefed up at other institutions as well—provincial buildings, courts, subways and other sensitive buildings. Canadian military bases were also put on heightened alert.
Life will become increasingly more difficult for all Canadians as fear is spread because of the twin attacks. Militarism will be glorified and increased surveillance and other intrusive powers will be granted to police and other security agencies.