Royal Canadian Mounted Police killed an ISIS supporter Wednesday in a southern Ontario town just two hours’ drive from Detroit — whose military father had anonymously reported his fears about his convert son to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation more than a year ago.
The Mounties said in a statement Wednesday that they “received credible information of a potential terrorist threat.”
“A suspect was identified and the proper course of action has been taken to ensure that there is no danger to the public’s safety,” the statement continued.
“The safety and security of Canadians is of the utmost importance to the RCMP and we take all such threats seriously. As this is still an unfolding matter and that the investigation is still underway, we are not able to provide further comment at this time.”
They encouraged Canadians to “remain alert and to immediately report any suspicious or unusual behaviour” to police. The Mounties were expected to reveal more information in a Thursday press conference.
CTV reported the suspect was 24-year-old Aaron Daniel Driver, someone “well known to Canadian intelligence and police officials for his support for the Islamist terrorist group,” including through postings on Twitter that cheered and encouraged ISIS attacks. He had been previously arrested but not charged, though he did receive conditions such as not being permitted to use a computer or associating with other ISIS fans.
“Neighbours reported hearing a loud explosion and gunshots during the police operation, which included swat teams, a bomb squad, the RCMP and Canada’s military special operations forces,” the CTV report added.
The Canadian network said it intercepted a government memo noting that Driver planned to carrying out a suicide bombing, possibly during rush hour on Wednesday, in a busy location to inflict mass casualties.
It wasn’t specified, though, which city he planned to target.
The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Driver used to live in Charleswood, a suburb of the capital of Manitoba, before moving to the city between Toronto and Detroit.
He used the alias Harun Abdourahman.
The February “peace bond” under which Driver had computer and cell phone restrictions was about to expire, the paper noted. He would have gotten his computer and cell privileges back on Aug. 31 and was prohibited from possessing a firearm or explosives — or contacting ISIS — until the end of the year.
In June 2015, the month Driver was arrested, CBC reported that a lawyer was arguing a condition requiring Driver to receive “religious counseling” was contrary to Canadian values.
“We need to be sure that we’re separating his frankly abhorrent views from his rights as a Canadian citizen,” Winnipeg human rights lawyer Corey Shefman said.
In March 2015, CBC reported on a “career member of Canada’s armed forces” who feared that his son — alias Harun Abdourahman — could be picked up under tougher anti-terror laws.
The man, who serves in Alberta, said his son converted to Islam in 2008 while living in Ontario and “just started getting radical” in 2014. Security officials first came knocking in December of that year.
“Some things made me want to throw up,” the father said. “People beheaded — he’s commenting on them like it’s some big joke, and he’s applauding their actions. There was picture of Christian kids being assassinated, and he said they deserved it.”
“It was just horrifying to know that this was what my son doing,” he added. “How can my son be into something like this? He grew up in a Christian home. We took him to church.”
He noted that he tried to be “loving, accommodating, respectful” of his son’s conversion, even buying him halal meat.
“When he was living at home, he was very secretive; a lone wolf. He didn’t bring friends over, never talked about where he was going and what he was doing,” the father said. “…He says he wants to move to live in an Islamic state. He doesn’t want to be a Canadian.”
At the time of the interview, the dad said he only exchanged occasional text messages with his son.