Terror suspect dead after police operation in Ontario

Posted at 3:02 AM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 17:47:17-04

A suspect banned from associating with the Islamic State group was dead after Canada's national police force thwarted what an official said was a suicide bomb plot.

A senior police official said late Wednesday the suspect allegedly planned to use a bomb to carry out a suicide bombing mission in a public area but was killed in a police operation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about details ahead of a Thursday news conference, identified the suspect as Aaron Driver.

He had been under the spotlight for at least a year, as authorities believed he was a threat because he could help terror groups.

Driver, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and in his mid-20s, was under a court order from earlier this year to not associate with any terrorist organization, including the Islamic State group.

In February, Driver's lawyer and the prosecutor agreed to a peace bond stating there are "reasonable grounds to fear that he may participate, contribute directly or indirectly in the activity of a terrorist group."

Winnipeg-based lawyer Leonard Tailleur, who handled Driver's peace bond, said he was "shocked" to hear what had happened.

"Saddened to hear that it had to end this way for him," Tailleur said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Driver was first picked up in Winnipeg in June 2015. Amarnath Amarasingam, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who studies radicalization and terrorism, maintained in 2015 that Driver had posted for several months on social media about disliking Canada and about a desire to move overseas.

Mounties applied for the peace bond that could impose limits on Driver's activities, alleging in provincial court documents that investigators believed he might help with terrorist group activities.

When Driver was released later that month, he was ordered to wear a GPS tracking device. At the time, the bail conditions drew criticism from the Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties.

Driver was also banned from going on the Internet or having any communication with the Islamic State group, including having any object on his person that bore an Islamic State group logo.

Later, the Crown announced that some of his strict bail conditions had been lifted and that he would not be going to trial.

Under the peace bond agreed to by both sides, there was an acknowledgment there were grounds to fear that Driver might help a terrorist group.

He was allowed to remove his monitoring bracelet. He continued to be prohibited from using a computer or cellphone -- rules that were to be in place until the end of August.

Details of how Driver died have not been released. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police earlier said it halted a possible attack after receiving credible information of a potential terrorist threat.

They said a suspect was identified and the "proper course of action has been taken" to ensure there was no danger to public safety.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said he had spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the events "to confirm that public safety has been and continues to be properly protected."

The RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other police and security agencies were involved in the operations, he added.

"These agencies conducted themselves effectively in the circumstances that developed today," Goodale said in statement.

Taking all relevant information into account, the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at "medium" where it has stood since the fall of 2014, Goodale said.

The police operation involving Driver took place Wednesday night in the southern Ontario town of Strathroy, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) southwest of Toronto.