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The Edge of Terror

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Canada on Lock-Down Following Terrorist Attack in Ottawa

October 23rd 2014

Canada's premier said his country will never be intimidated by terrorists, after a gunman killed a soldier in Ottawa and then stormed Parliament before he was shot dead. In a televised address on the evening of October 22, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the attack committed that day in Ottawa, along with another incident this week in Quebec that led to a soldier's death, are grim reminders that Canada is not immune to terrorism.

The prime minister spoke hours after dozens of gunshots rang out in Canada's parliament buildings in Ottawa when a gunman shot and killed a soldier guarding the nearby Canadian National War Memorial. The fallen soldier has been identified as Army Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The diseased was armed with a ceremonial weapon, which was not loaded, as he guarded the memorial to the fallen Canadians of the First World War.

The assailant has been identified as 32-year-old ex-convict Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who was fatally shot. He has, however, been identified as a Muslim. He was seen by eyewitnesses to raise his arms above his head after shooting Cirillo in apparent exultation. He then entered the Parliament building where where dozens of shots soon rang out before he was felled by gunfire unleashed by a sergeant-at-arms. Zehaf-Bibeau had disguised his face and head with a scarf.

According to those present, many fled the complex by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside and barricaded doors with chairs as police with rifles and body armor took up positions outside and cordoned off the normally bustling streets around Parliament.

On Twitter, Canada's justice minister and other government officials credited 58-year-old sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers with shooting the attacker just outside the lawmakers' caucus rooms. Vickers serves a largely ceremonial role at the House of Commons, carrying a scepter and wearing rich green robes, white gloves and a tall imperial hat.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, in a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, appeared to link the attack to Canada's participation in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State group.

Earlier this week an Islamic convert in a car ran down two Canadian soldiers, killing one, near Montreal.

President Barack Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Harper after the attacks and said it was important for U.S. and Canadian counterterrorism authorities to continue their cooperation in defeating terrorism. Obama condemned the attacks on Canadian forces, and offered any U.S. assistance Canada needs in responding to the situation to the prime minister. Obama said the U.S. is monitoring the Canadian situation and will do everything it can to protect the American people.

Zehaf-Bibeau had been recently designated a "high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and was denied a passport, thus preventing his flight abroad. The circumstances are similar to that surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot on October 21 after running down two Canadian soldiers with his car.

Zehaf-Bibeau was born in 1982 and was the son of Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman who appears to have fought in 2011 in Libya, and Susan Bibeau, the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board. Zehaf-Bibeau was once arrested in the early 2000s for petty crimes such as narcotics possession, credit-card forgery and robbery. He was also charged with robbery in 2011 in Vancouver.

Cutting Edge Contributor Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com

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