‘Race against time’: Canadian police says gunned down terror suspect planned ‘imminent’ attack
Local authorities were tipped off about a potential attack in Canada by the FBI, and police uncovered a “martyrdom video” made by the suspect, later identified as Aaron Driver, 24.
The video shows a man in a black balaclava promising to carry out an imminent attack on a Canadian city. “Oh Canada, you received many warnings, you were told many times what would become of those who fight against the Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL),” said the man in the video.
Driver was planning to carry out his attack in a busy urban area during rush hour within 72 hours, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said at a press conference on Thursday.
The investigation led police to a house in Strathroy, Ontario, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) west of Toronto.
At around 4:30 pm local time, Driver left his home and got into a taxi, but the RCMP were already on site and surrounded the vehicle. The officers then “engaged with a suspect who detonated a device in the back of a cab,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike Cabana told the media.
The suspect is said to have died in a confrontation with police. “The outcome, if we have not been able to apprehend him, based on his actions when he was confronted, could have been significantly more dreadful,” commented Cabana. “It was a race against time.”
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Strachan added: “If he had gotten out of that residence before we got there, the scenario would have ended a lot differently.”
Meanwhile, the cab driver is at home with injuries, CBC News reported.
On Thursday, Islamic State media described Driver as its “soldier.”
Police do not believe that Driver had any accomplices, but they could not specify which city he was planning to target.
However, public transit operators in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, were sent a warning about a potential attack just hours before the police operation.
Driver was well known to Canadian intelligence and police as an IS sympathizer. He had been arrested in June of 2015 and was under a peace bond for communicating with IS supporters.
The peace bond stated that Driver was “consenting or acknowledging that there are reasonable grounds to fear that he may participate, contribute – directly or indirectly – in the activity of a terrorist group.”
The bond also forced Driver to live in a specified location in Strathroy and keep the RCMP informed of any future address changes.
In the past, Driver sent out tweets supporting Islamic State and celebrated the 2014 attack on Canada’s Parliament Hill. He had also spoken out to encourage attacks against the Canadian police and military.