OTTAWA—Last Wednesday’s deadly attack in London was a shocking act of violence resulting in five deaths and around 40 innocent bystanders being injured along the famous Westminster Bridge and on the grounds of the British parliament buildings. It was also immediately deemed an act of terrorism and the Western world sent messages of solidarity to Britain in our common fight against radical Islam.
The weapons employed by Khalid Masood were nothing more than a rental SUV, two knives, and his own fanatical beliefs. Masood drove through a crowd of pedestrians on the famous bridge and was in the process of stabbing a policeman to death when he was fatally shot by Metropolitan Police bodyguards for the defence minister.
In the hours following the tragedy, Daesh evildoers (from the militant group also known as ISIS, ISIL, and Islamic State) announced that Masood was acting upon their recent call for radicalized Muslims to rise up in Western countries. There is no evidence that Masood was an actual Daesh foot-soldier or that he ever had direct contact with that group, but Daesh’s claim of responsibility for the attack was good enough for the news media to grant the group what it sought: to spread the unfounded myth that Daesh is everywhere and able to strike us on home soil at any time.
For the record, Khalid Masood was born in Britain in 1964 and the name he used to go by is Adrian Russell Ajao. By his late teens, he had embarked upon a lifetime of violent crime and later converted to Islam. He is the quintessential homegrown nut-job who just proved to us once again that no matter what security measures we take against terrorism, there is no possible defence against suicidal attackers using such common items as a car and a knife to kill unsuspecting civilians.
Since Masood ended up being gunned down in front of the parliament buildings, Canadians naturally drew a parallel to the Oct. 22, 2014 attack in Ottawa by homegrown terrorist Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Like Masood, Zehaf-Bibeau was a lifetime criminal. He was a drug addict who shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial before launching his solo charge into the Parliament Buildings. Like Masood, Zehaf-Bibeau was gunned down by security guards. There was no evidence that Zehaf-Bibeau had ever been in direct contact with Daesh, and even those evildoers claimed only that their movement had inspired the suicidal rampage of violence in Ottawa.
That incident was nonetheless rightfully declared an act of terrorism, as was the deliberate vehicular manslaughter of a Canadian soldier, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu two days prior to Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack.
That attack was also perpetrated by a homegrown nut-job, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had tried to head to the Middle East, presumably to join Daesh, but who was instead stopped by Canadian authorities. After killing Vincent and injuring another soldier with his car, Couture-Rouleau was involved in a high-speed chase with Quebec police. After losing control of his vehicle and rolling into a ditch, Couture-Rouleau was shot as he exited the damaged car.
The standard line in labelling those two incidents as acts of terror was that Cpl. Cirillo and Warrant Officer Vincent were targeted because of the uniform they wore and, in turn, what that uniform symbolizes.
Conversely, this year we had a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City on the evening of Jan. 29. In that attack, six people were killed and another 19 wounded by lone gunman Alexandre Bissonnette. Following his arrest, Bissonnette was charged with six counts of first-degree murder, but not an act of terrorism. Legal experts opined that it would be difficult for Crown attorneys to prove that this case met the criteria for a terrorist act under the Criminal Code of Canada.
How is that possible? These people were gunned down in their place of worship, while observing their religious faith. What could be more symbolic than that?
To be fair, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard did label the mosque shooting as an act of terror, but those words are hollow when our courts do not apply the law evenly.
I’m sure the victims who were in the mosque that night were just as terrified as the innocent bystanders on the Westminster Bridge last Thursday. Terrorists come in all colours.
Scott Taylor is editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine.
The Hill Times
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