Canadian Islamist set off bomb before being killed by police

Aaron Driver had planned a rush-hour attack within 72 hours, authorities claim

A Canadian man killed by police on Wednesday recorded a “martyrdom video” quoting Koranic verses and pledging an imminent attack on a Canadian city before he detonated a bomb in the back seat of a taxi as officers closed in, Canadian police said on Thursday.

"Oh Canada, you received many warnings, you were told many times what would become of those who fight against the Islamic State," the man, identified by police as Aaron Driver, said in a video shown by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) at a news conference in Ottawa.

The video indicated he had planned an attack within 72 hours, during the rush-hour period, police said.

Driver had previously professed support for Islamic State, drawing the attention of US authorities, who tipped off Canadian police, intelligence sources said.


The man was killed during a police raid in the small Ontario town of Strathroy, the RCMP said.

Driver was arrested last year for openly supporting Islamic State on social media and had been placed under a court order earlier this year restricting his movements.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation alerted Canadian authorities early on Wednesday that an individual was engaged in potential terrorism-related activities, the sources told Reuters.

A second source said the Canadian authorities realised this referred to Driver and deployed to his home in Strathroy, some 225km southwest of Toronto.

The RCMP said that officers fatally shot a suspect during a police operation and that the RCMP and its partners had worked overnight securing the scene and gathering evidence.


The National Post cited Driver’s father, Wayne Driver, as saying the RCMP had told him that a taxi driver was wounded in a bomb set off by his son during the raid and that by shooting him the police prevented the detonation of a second bomb.

A representative from the local Leo’s Taxi Transportation Ltd said a cab had been dispatched to Driver’s address on Wednesday night before he was shot by police.

The representative, who declined to be identified, said the taxi driver was injured in the incident, but has since recovered.

“He’s shaken up a bit, but he’s OK,” the representative said. “It was a shock”

There were no details yet of what kind of attack Driver, who also used the alias Harun Abdurahman, had allegedly been planning.

Driver (24) was a Muslim convert who was described as a “passive individual” by his former lawyer.

Driver’s former lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, said he was surprised by the incident as he had had an expert assess Driver and had found no signs of violence, despite his sometimes extreme views.

Driver had not been charged with a crime. However, in February a court order restricted his movements and required that he stay away from social media and computers and not have contact with Islamic State or similar groups.

It was not clear how he was able to make the alleged plans for an attack given the authorities had him on their radar.

It was also not yet known what action triggered the FBI’s concern.

The incident was the first security test for prime minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected in October 2015 and who in February fulfilled a campaign pledge to withdraw Canada from the combat mission against Islamic State and to increase its mission training local fighters against the group in northern Iraq.

‘Terrorist threat’

Public safety minister Ralph Goodale said in a statement following the incident that the public had been "properly protected" after the RCMP received "credible information regarding a potential terrorist threat".

Public transit operators in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, had been warned by police of potential security threats hours before officers killed Driver.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), which serves the city, and the regional operator GO Transit confirmed they were contacted by police early on Wednesday.

TTC spokesman Brad Ross said there was no specific threat made and nothing to indicate the transport agency was a target, but the TTC sent out a “vigilance notice” to its employees.

In 2014, Canada was stunned by two deadly attacks that police said were the work of homegrown radicals and which led to tougher anti-terrorism measures.

A gunman killed a soldier at Ottawa’s national war memorial before launching an attack on the Canadian parliament in October 2014.

In the same week, a man ran down two soldiers in Quebec, killing one.

Driver had expressed support for the parliament gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, on Twitter, which was how he first came to the attention of Canadian security officials.

In March last year, Canada said it had foiled a plot by a self-proclaimed Islamic State supporter to bomb the US consulate and other buildings in Toronto’s financial district.

Canada saw a big jump in terrorism offences last year, with 173 alleged incidents, up from 76 in 2014, according to July data from Statistics Canada.

There were 62 instances of people being accused of participating in what the agency described as “activity of terrorist group” in Canada, up from 26 in 2014, and 28 alleged cases of people trying to leave the country to do so, up from seven in 2014.