Authorities were monitoring Martin Rouleau and had revoked his passport before he allegedly drove his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, in a Quebec parking lot Monday.
Rouleau, 25, was a radicalized Muslim who may have acted alone but had links to other suspected fundamentalists, according to authorities. The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed Tuesday that Rouleau was one of the 90 individuals the government had already announced it was monitoring.
The possible terror attack on Canadian soil and the soldier’s death were the first since the country joined the international effort against ISIS.
Rouleau allegedly ran down the two soldiers as they walked in the parking lot of a strip mall in St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, 25 miles south of Montreal, just before noon on Monday. The impact injured both men, and one soldier died at a local hospital. His name and rank have not been released. The second soldier’s injuries are not life-threatening.
After striking the soldiers Rouleau led police on a high-speed chase, which ended when his car flipped over in a ditch. Rouleau was shot by police after exiting the vehicle and died after being transported to the hospital.
Prior to the incident, Rouleau had already had his Canadian passport revoked, and was being monitored by the RCMP, according to Canadian officials. Authorities said Rouleau had “tangential links” to other radicalized individuals already known to officials.
Radio-Canada reported that his Facebook page identified him, in French, as Ahmad the Converted, and included a video with an ISIS logo. Rouleau converted to Islam about a year ago, and authorities were concerned that he had become radicalized.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the hit and run was "clearly linked to terrorist ideology." A provincial police official said Tuesday that the hit and run was deliberate, and that the car had been in the lot two hours prior to the attack.
Canadian officials have been concerned about the potential for attacks in Canada on U.S. and Canadian targets, including military personnel, because of the nation’s involvement in the international effort to fight ISIS. Earlier this month Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Canada would deploy six planes to bomb targets in ISIS-controlled areas. Opposition parties charged that the prime minister was leading the country into a prolonged war, but parliament authorized the strikes by majority vote.
Soon after Harper’s announcement, intelligence officials told NBC News that Canadian authorities had heard would-be terrorists discussing potential ISIS-inspired “knife and gun” attacks against U.S. and Canadian targets inside Canada. They have been concerned that these attacks have a lower threshold from desire to action than relatively sophisticated attacks using explosives, and may shorten the timeline between radicalization and overt acts.
Intelligence officials said they had not picked up talk of anyone crossing the border into the U.S. to stage attacks, and stressed that the possible attacks were at the “aspirational” stage.
Authorities in the U.S. have been working closely with their Canadian counterparts to monitor radicalized individuals in both counties who have traveled to and returned from Syria -- or whose desire to go was thwarted. Intelligence officials say the Canadians are monitoring “hundreds of people” in Canada who have either gone to Syria to link up with ISIS and other Islamist groups and returned, or who have tried and failed to make the trip.