Terrorist Attack In Ottawa [Updated]

Today a Muslim convert attacked the Canadian Parliament building, after first murdering a soldier at a nearby memorial. The terrorist, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau–real name, Michael Hall–apparently fired dozens of rounds inside the Parliament building, without injuring anyone, and was shot and killed by a Sergeant at Arms who effectively discharged his ancient duty.

As usual, the Daily Mail has the best pictures. This is Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was murdered as he stood guard at the National War Memorial:


This photo was taken inside the Parliament building, reportedly as shots were being fired:


It was originally believed that there were one or two terrorists in addition to the one who was killed; current news reports leave this question open. Canadian officials tweeted their concerns about being in danger. This photo shows the inside of the Conservative Party Caucus, where the door was blocked with chairs:


The Wall Street Journal has a good narrative of today’s events. It includes these observations on America’s counter-terrorism strategy:

U.S. officials have long regarded U.S. security as dependent on Canada’s, given that terrorists could fly anywhere in North America and make their way across the border into the U.S.

For that reason, U.S. and Canadian security officials have worked closely on monitoring travel by extremists.

However, if the Canadian attack turns out to be a so-called homegrown threat, it could challenge the assumption that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks is to prevent terrorists from coming to North America.

The bulk of U.S. counterterrorism efforts have focused on marshaling intelligence and military means to find and sometimes capture or kill terrorists overseas—or tracking any U.S. links they might have and arresting them or their co-conspirators in America.

“Those tools cannot be applied to threats that originate domestically,” said John Cohen, the former top counterterrorism official at the Homeland Security Department who now works at Rutgers University.

Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau is not the only recent homegrown Canadian threat. Just two days ago near Montreal, a Muslim convert named Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau rammed two Canadian soldiers with his car, killing one.

The driver of a car who rammed two Canadian Forces members near Montreal before being shot dead by police was known to counter-terrorism authorities who believed he had become radicalized, the RCMP said on Monday as they continued to investigate the possible terrorist attack.

So that’s two home-grown terrorist attacks in the space of two days. It is reasonable to believe that some of these converted Muslims, at least, are motivated by exhortations from ISIS. But the common denominator is Islam. We should, certainly, limit Muslim immigration and track terrorists overseas, but that is evidently not a complete solution. Crushing ISIS would help, as no one flocks to the banner of a loser. But that is not currently on the agenda in Washington. In the meantime, today’s attack is a reminder of how much disruption can be caused by a small number of terrorist (likely just one) armed with universally available weapons.

UPDATE: I should have noted that Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau was already known to Canadian authorities as a potential terrorist; he recently had his passport confiscated as a “high risk traveler.” His mother, it turns out, is the Deputy Chairperson for the Immigration and Refuge Board of Canada. This photo of Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau has also surfaced:



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