The father of the man accused of killing a Canadian soldier at the War Memorial in Ottawa and then unleashing a fusillade of bullets in Canada’s Parliament Hill before being fatally shot Wednesday appears to have fought alongside anti-Gadhafi rebels in Libya in 2011.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, in a statement to the nation, described the shooting incident as a “terrorist attack.”
The shooter has been identified by authorities as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. He was born Michael Joseph Hall inQuebec in 1982, but changed his name to Zehaf-Bibeau after he convertedto Islam.
Dave Bathurst, identified as the shooter’s friend, told The Globe and Mail in Canada that Zehaf-Bibeau spent time in Ottawa and Montreal in Eastern Canada while growing up. He then traveled to Libya before moving to Western Canada, where he worked as a miner and laborer.
The Globe and Mail article identified his mother as Susan Bibeau, the deputy chair of a division of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, and his father as Bulgasem Zehaf, a Quebec businessman. They have been divorced since 1999.
Citing an article from The Washington Times, the Canadian newspaper noted that his father appears to have fought alongside rebels in Libya in 2011.
In an August 2011 article about rebels fighting to topple Libyan dictator Col.Moammar Gadhafi, The Washington Times mentioned a man named “Bulgasem Zehaf” and described him as a native of the Zawiyah oil terminal in Libya “who recently returned to his home in Montreal after spending over a month in detention” where he witnessed torture. “He was arrested in Zawiyah where he had gone to fight alongside the rebels,” added the article.
The Washington Times also mentioned that the man had family living in the Libyan capital of Tripoli at the time, but it did not elaborate on who they were.
Bathurst saw Zehaf-Bibeau for the last time six weeks ago when the gunman was praying in a mosque located in the Vancouver area. That is when Zehaf-Bibeau told Bathurst he wanted to go to Libya to learn about Islam and study Arabic. Bathurst told The Globe and Mail that he was concerned about that.
“Hisfather’s history offers a hint of what Mr. Bathurst was concernedabout,” The Globe and Mail pointed out.
On September 30, Canada’s Ottawa Citizen news outlet reported thatthe Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) “includes a largenumber of volunteers fromLibya who fought in the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Col.Moammar Gadhafi.”
Jihadist organizations such as Ansar al Sharia in Libya, which the United States has designated a terrorist group, were “formed during the uprising against Gadhafi” and have “providedtrained fighters for ISIL,” added the report.
Breitbart News reported that a Twitter page proclaiming to be affiliated with Islamic State militants has praised Zehaf-Bibeau’s attack.
ISIS has called for reprisals against Canada and other Western nations that have joined forces with the United States in fighting the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.
On October 20, two days before the shooting, a man also identified as an Islam convert ran over two Canadian soldiers in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other, before he was fatally shot by police. Canada’s Prime Minister described the culprit as an “ISIL-inspired terrorist.”
Bathurst was also concerned about Zehaf-Bibeau’s mental state. “We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don’t know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him,” Bathurst told The Globe and Mail, later adding, “I think he must have been mentally ill.”
Zehaf-Bibeau killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, at the National War Memorial opposite Parliament Hill in Canada. He then got into a car and drove to a Parliament building, where he engaged the police in a gun battle. Zehaf-Bibeau was ultimately killed by Kevin Vickers, Parliament’s 58-year-old sergeant-at-arms.