A man who was under a peace bond for fear he might commit a terrorism offence was killed in Strathroy, a small Southern Ontario town, on Wednesday after the RCMP determined the force had to thwart a potential terrorist threat, a source told The Globe and Mail.
A federal source said Aaron Driver, who was arrested in June of last year in Winnipeg due to concerns about his activities online, was dead. The source said Mr. Driver intended to do something and had the capabilities to carry it out.
Earlier in the day, the RCMP said it received “credible information” about what was only described as a potential terrorist threat. The force released no other information about the nature of the threat.
Police have not made it clear yet just how Mr. Driver died. RCMP officials were expected to release more details about the case on Thursday.
The CBC reported in February that Mr. Driver’s peace-bond conditions included living in Strathroy, Ont., as well as not possessing firearms or explosives, not possessing cellphones or computers, staying off social media and not possessing anything bearing the symbols of the Islamic State group.
The CBC also quoted Mr. Driver as saying: “Seeing some of the things that are happening in Syria, it infuriates you and it breaks your heart at the same time, and I think that if you know what’s going on, you have to do something.
“What it would take would be for the West to just stop killing Muslims, stop bombing, stop arresting Muslims, take responsibility for the crimes they’ve committed in the past and just stay at home and work on their own problems.…
“Instead of trying to solve, you know, trying to solve other people’s problems by just dropping bombs on them or trying to force democracy on them.”
Len Tailleur, Mr. Driver’s former lawyer, said he was “aghast and shocked” to learn of Wednesday’s events. Mr. Tailleur represented Mr. Driver in 2015 and early 2016, when federal authorities wanted to limit his client’s activities on suspicion that he might help or engage in terrorist activities. Mr. Driver launched a challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In an interview late Wednesday, Mr. Tailleur said his former client never gave any indication that he would carry out any terrorist activities.
“He was such a passive individual. He was not an aggressive person,” he said. “I had a couple assessments done of him, which I gave to the federal Department of Justice.
“Those assessments indicated there was no sociopathology, no psychiatric illnesses, any of those types of things. But there was this overriding religious conviction, which, I guess at the end of the day, was the compelling factor in his alleged latest decision to do what he did here.”
The lawyer described his former client as a “loner” and a “passive individual.”
“When he would come to court, he would be reading his Quran,” Mr. Tailleur said. “I’ll tell you right now that he was one of the best clients I ever had, because he took instructions very well and was never aggressive in my conversations with him.
“He disputed a lot of things that were alleged, about specific conclusions that CSIS or the RCMP would want to make about his behaviour, but there was absolutely nothing to indicate that he was going to be [like this].”
The Canadian Press reported that Mr. Driver, who was in his mid-20s, was first picked up by police in 2015 but released later after being ordered to comply with 18 different conditions, including wearing a GPS tracking device.
At the time, the bail conditions drew criticism from the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties.
“This is a person — a Canadian citizen — who has not been charged with a crime … and yet he’s going to be subject to 24-7 GPS monitoring,” said association president Corey Shefman.
The office of former Tory public safety minister Steven Blaney defended the move, saying the government must combat terrorism.
“We will continue to ensure that our police forces have the tools they need to protect Canadians against this evolving threat of terrorism,” Mr. Blaney’s press secretary, Jeremy Laurin, wrote in an email at the time.
Earlier Wednesday, the RCMP released a statement that said the force took the “proper course of action” to ensure the public was not at risk.
Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale issued a statement saying he had discussed the case with the Prime Minister “to confirm that public safety has been and continues to be properly protected.”
“There is no greater responsibility of the government than to keep its citizens safe,” he said.
In Strathroy, resident Irene Lee said late Wednesday that police had been camped out near her parents’ convenience store since about 4:15 p.m. ET.
At about that time, she said she was at her home close by when she heard a loud noise. She said shortly afterward, a police officer came by to tell residents to stay inside their homes.
Ms. Lee said there were up to 25 marked and unmarked cruisers outside a home on Park Street, which is right behind her parents’ store.
James Keller And Colin Freeze
Vancouver and Toronto — The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016 7:15PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 7:51AM EDT