Terror suspect killed in standoff in Strathroy, Ont
OTTAWA—A Daesh sympathizer was killed in a high-stakes standoff with police Wednesday afternoon in Strathroy, Ont., according to news reports.
Aaron Driver, 23, was killed in his home on a quiet residential street 15 minutes west of London, CTV News reported.
An internal government document circulating earlier in the day stated concerns about a lone man planning to launch a suicide attack with an improvised explosive device in a major Canadian city, according to CTV News.
The RCMP said it received credible information that Driver planned to create mass casualties in a busy area during rush hour, CTV News reported.
In a statement Wednesday evening, the RCMP said it had “taken action” to thwart the threat but provided few other details.
“A suspect was identified and the proper course of action has been taken to ensure that there is no danger to the public’s safety,” the statement said.
Canadian intelligence and police officials were familiar with Driver due to his alleged support for Daesh, an Islamist terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL, CTV News reported.
Driver, who once published instructions for Muslims trying to reach Syria, was released on a terrorism-related peace bond in June 2015, days after police raided his suburban Winnipeg residence, the Star reported last year.
Because the investigation was ongoing late Wednesday night, the RCMP refused further comment.
Around 4 p.m., RCMP officers, SWAT teams, a bomb squad and military special forces swarmed into Driver’s Strathroy neighbourhood, according to CTV and community residents.
Maria Pereira, 59, lives on Westgate Ave., directly across the street from the property.
“I heard a big noise. I don’t know if it was shots. I opened the front door and I saw police all over,” Pereira, 59, told the Star shortly before 10 p.m.
“I’m scared. I’m scared to be home by myself,” she said, as police continued to block off the area.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the evolving security situation.
“With respect to the police and security actions taken in Canada today, I have discussed the situation with the Prime Minister to confirm that public safety has been and continues to be properly protected,” Goodale said in a statement.
He said that the RCMP received “credible information” regarding a potential security threat and “took action to ensure public safety.
“The Government of Canada monitors all potential threats and has robust measures in place to address them,” Goodale said in the statement.
He said that the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other unnamed police and security agencies “conducted themselves effectively in the circumstances that developed today.”
Despite the threat, Goodale said the terror threat level for Canada remained at medium, unchanged since the fall of 2014.
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.
At about that time, she said she was at her home close by when she heard a loud noise. She said that shortly afterward a police officer came by to tell residents to stay inside their homes.
Lee said there were up to 25 marked and unmarked cruisers outside a home on Park St., which is right behind her parents’ store.
Over years of online postings, Driver has left a deep footprint on social media sites, the Star reported last year. Writing under the pseudonym “Harun Danyal,” a play on Driver’s first and middle names, he has referred to non-Muslims as “enemies,” posted a link to a guide for aspiring jihadists trying to get to Syria, called for Shia Muslims to be wiped out, and retweeted an ISIS video that called on Muslims to carry out terror attacks on Canadian soil.
Ottawa was abuzz with rumours for much of Wednesday after a memo was circulated among National Defence personnel warning of a terrorist threat.
With files from The Canadian Press