A 24-year-old Canadian man previously banned from associating with Islamic State (IS) extremists had prepared a ‘martyrdom’ video and was about to commit a terrorist attack when he died in a police operation, officers said.
Aaron Driver was killed after he detonated his explosive device in a taxi and was shot at by officers who say they thwarted the suicide bomb plot after being tipped off by the FBI.
He planned to carry out a suicide bombing in a public area in an urban centre during rush hour, Deputy Royal Canadian Mounted Police commander Mike Cabana said. The police operation took place in the southern Ontario town of Strathroy, 225km south-west of Toronto, on Wednesday night.
RCMP commander Jennifer Strachan said Driver, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was intercepted by police as he entered a taxi with a backpack, adding that Driver detonated an explosive device, injuring himself and the taxi driver, before police shot at him.
It was unclear whether Driver died as a result of the shrapnel or a police bullet.
After being tipped off by the FBI, police said Driver was quickly identified as the person in the so-called martyrdom video. Police say he planned an attack within 72 hours. “It was a race against time,” Mr Cabana said.
In the video, a masked Driver is seen railing against Western “enemies of Islam” and warning that the only solution would be the “spilling of your blood”.
Driver had been under the spotlight for at least a year, as authorities believed he was a threat because he could help terror groups.
He gave a media interview where he expressed support for prior terror attacks in Canada and expressed interest in travelling to join IS.
Amarnath Amarasingam, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who studies radicalisation and terrorism, maintained in 2015 that Driver had posted for several months on social media about disliking Canada and about a desire to move overseas.
Driver was under a court order from earlier this year not to associate with any terrorist organisation.
In February, his lawyer and the prosecutor agreed to a peace bond stating there are “reasonable grounds to fear that he may participate, contribute directly or indirectly in the activity of a terrorist group”.
Driver was first picked up in Winnipeg in June 2015.
When released later that month, he was ordered to wear a GPS tracking device and banned from going on the internet or having any communication with IS.
His bail conditions drew criticism from the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties. Later, the government announced that some of his strict bail conditions had been lifted and that he would not be going to trial.
Driver was allowed to remove his monitoring bracelet but continued to be prohibited from using a computer or mobile phone — rules that were to be in place until the end of August.
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