Toronto: A tip from the FBI triggered what Canadian police called a “race against time” as police scrambled to identify and locate a balaclava-wearing would-be suicide bomber they feared was on the verge of committing a terror attack in Canada.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Aaron Driver, a Canadian man previously banned from associating with Islamic State extremists, prepared a martyrdom video and was about to commit a terrorist attack but was killed Wednesday in southern Ontario after he detonated his explosive device in a taxi and was shot at by officers.
Today, the IS group’s media arm, the Aamaq news agency, said that Driver was a “soldier of the Islamic State.” A posting on the agency’s website said his only mistake was “in releasing his video … before carrying out the attack.”
Police said they were tipped off by the American authorities at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The FBI provided a screen shot and later a video of the masked suspect threatening a terror attack. By 11 a.m., Canadian police said they had a good idea who it was.
Driver planned to carry out a suicide bombing in a public area in an urban center during rush hour, Deputy Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commander Mike Cabana said. He identified the suspect as Driver, 24, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
RCMP Commander Jennifer Strachan said Driver was intercepted by police as he entered a taxi with a backpack and said 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, Canadian police furiously worked to find out who it was. Police said Driver was quickly identified as the person in the so-called martyrdom video and that he planned an attack within 72 hours.
“It was a race against time,” Cabana said.
In the video, aired during a news conference in Ottawa, a masked Driver is seen railing against western “enemies of Islam” and warning that the only solution would be the “spilling of your blood.”
He pledges allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, and threatens an attack against Canada.
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 the Islamic State.
But Driver, who was living with his sister, was not under surveillance at the time. Police swooped down on the home just before a taxi suddenly showed up and Driver got in.