SAINT-JEAN-SUR-RICHELIEU, Quebec – A young convert to Islam who killed a Canadian soldier in a hit-and-run had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey, authorities said Tuesday.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the attack Monday was “clearly linked to terrorist ideology.” Quebec Police spokesman Guy Lapointe said the act was deliberate and that one of the two soldiers was in uniform.
Police said the suspect, Martin Couture-Rouleau, called 911 to report his hit-and-run as police chased him in the Quebec city of Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu. He later was shot dead by police after his car flipped over into a ditch and he brandished a knife as he exited his car. A second soldier suffered minor injuries in the attack.
Couture-Rouleau, 25, was one of 90 people in the country suspected of intending to join fights abroad or who have returned from overseas, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson.
He first came to attention of authorities in June because of Facebook postings that showed he had become radicalized and wanted to leave the country to fight, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Supt. Martine Fontaine.
Police seized his passport at the airport in July when he tried to travel to Turkey. He was arrested and questioned but there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with a crime, she said.
Fontaine said police subsequently met with him several times, including Oct. 9, when she said he indicated that he wanted to take steps to change.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the slain soldier, 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, was a 28-year veteran with “distinguished service.”
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