Nichole Austin: Terror in Canada

The nation of Canada is reeling today from a brutal terrorist attack in the capital city of Ottawa that claimed the life of Canadian reservist Nathan Cirillo. The attacker has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old convert to Islam, who was killed by authorities as he opened fire inside the Canadian Parliament. The incident comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were deliberately struck by a speeding vehicle driven by another Islamic convert, leaving one soldier dead. The twin attacks have demonstrated that even the unassuming nation of Canada is not immune to the threat of Islamic terrorism, which once again has been allowed to flourish under a lax regime of global leadership.

Shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, Zehaf-Bibeau, using a keffiyeh to cover his face and brandishing a long-barreled rifle, approached the Canadian National War Memorial, dedicated to the memory of Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives in defense of their country. Clp. Cirillo was standing watch at the Tomb of the Unknown solider when he was shot in the abdomen by Zehaf-Bibeau at point-blank range. Zehaf-Bibeau then ran into the Canadian Parliament, where he was killed following a shoot-out with authorities.

Cpl. Cirillo, a 24-year-old father, was rushed to the hospital, but tragically succumbed to his injuries. A parliamentary guard sustained a gunshot wound to the leg during the attack and is said to be recovering.

Warning signs for Canadians have abounded in recent weeks. In early October, reports broke that an ISIS-connected terrorist plot, allegedly targeting a shopping mall and the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, had been thwarted by authorities. A day before the public learned of the attack, Canadian intelligence and security agencies briefed Canadian lawmakers on the threat of Islamic radicalism growing inside the country. However, while officials ultimately downplayed the idea that an attack was imminent, less than a week ago the government quietly raised the domestic terrorism threat level to medium for the first time in four years.

“This week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world,” a visibly shaken Prime Minster Stephen Harper said in a statement to the nation Wednesday. Harper vowed that the attack would lead Canada to “strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts, and those of our national security agencies, to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home.”

Worried Canadians should not be heartened by Harper’s pronouncements given what we have learned about officals’ alleged monitoring of Zehaf-Bibeau and other like-minded terrorists embedded in Canadian society. Zehaf-Bibeau, born Michael Joseph Hall, had been known to Canadian authorities for his jihadist proclivities and potential for violence. He had recently been designated by the government as a “high-risk traveler” and had his passport seized out of fear that he was liable to commit acts of terrorism abroad. Despite a long criminal history of drug trafficking, credit-card forgery, robbery, and multiple stints in jail, Zehaf-Bibeau could not be taken off the streets.

The disconcerting facts surrounding Zehaf-Bibeau are eerily similar to those of Martin Couture-Rouleau, a.k.a. “Ahmad LeConverti” (Ahmad the Converted), the Canadian Muslim convert who ran a car into two Canadian soldiers on Monday in the Quebec city of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, claiming the life of one of the victims. Couture-Rouleau was arrested and questioned in July when he attempted to fly out of Canada to Turkey. Couture-Rouleau’s passport had also been seized in an attempt to prevent him from traveling abroad and taking up arms with fellow Islamic terrorists.

Ninety other individuals like Zehaf-Bibeau and Couture-Rouleau are reportedly on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police watch list due to suspicion that they have or are planning to participate in militant activities abroad. At least 80 individuals present in the country are believed by Canadian intelligence to have gone overseas to participate in terrorist activities, and as many as 145 Canadiansaround the world are said by intelligence to be actively involved in terrorist groups.

The same is true for many Western countries. Approximately 100 individualsfrom the U.S. are believed by the National Counterterrorism Center to have attempted to leave the country to fight alongside ISIS jihadists. The FBI estimates that a dozen Americans are currently fighting in Iraq and Syria, while Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) reports that that some 40 U.S. citizens have been allowed re-entry into the country after fighting with ISIS. According to the Obama administration, this is their right.

“Ultimately, an American citizen, unless their passport is revoked, is entitled to come back,” FBI Director James Comey declared earlier this month. “So, someone who’s fought with ISIL, with an American passport wants to come back, we will track them very carefully.”

Yet the events in Canada of the last several days have cast doubt on the reliability of the purported “careful tracking” strategy.

“If you want to go to Syria and Iraq, please go, but never come back,”Geert Wilders told FrontPage’s Jamie Glazov on this week’s episode of The Glazov Gang. In this prophetic warning against the policy of barring known ISIS jihadists from exiting Western countries, Wilders pinpointed why Canadian soldiers like Cpl. Cirillo needlessly, and tragically, lose their lives at the hand of jihad. By refusing to allow highly “motivated” jihadists to leave, Western governments have made, in Wilders’ words, “our own streets, our own airports, our own train stations, our own malls, very dangerous places to be.”