Police cordon off a street leading to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct. 22

Police cordon off a street leading to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday Oct. 22

Ottawa attack brings risk of ‘grotesque overreaction’ against Muslims

Bolstered security inevitable, many questions persist: SFU expert

Expect an inevitable tightening of security at government buildings in the wake of Wednesday’s attack on Parliament Hill and the danger of a “grotesque overreaction” by some Canadians against Muslims.

That’s the prediction from SFU criminology professor Rob Gordon, an authority on terrorism, in the wake of the attack Wednesday in Ottawa.

The Canadian-born gunman who shot and killed a soldier at the National War Memorial and then died forcing his way into Parliament is reported by the Globe and Mail to have had growing interest in Islam, praying at a Burnaby mosque before becoming unwelcome there, and whose passport had been confiscated as a travel risk.

(The gunman has since been identified by authorities as Michael Zehaf Bibeau, a man reportedly known to police in Vancouver and Montreal. On Thursday, the suspect’s mother Susan Bibeau addressed the incident in Ottawa in a telephone interview with the Associated Press: “We are sorry,” she said. “If I’m crying it’s for the people. Not for my son.” In a later email with AP, she said, “I am mad at my son, I don’t understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time… I his mother spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that… So I have very little insight to offer.”)

Gordon said he has no doubt the attack was a “classic terrorist act” of revenge in response to Canada’s recent move to participate in the air war against ISIS in Iraq.

“It’s a tragedy for the Muslim communities in Canada because people will be extra careful around them,” Gordon said. “It’s going to test the boundaries of our tolerance. Hopefully people will not succumb to base emotions and will continue to treat ethnic and religious minorities in the same way they would want to be treated themselves.”

He said the attack does not appear as sophisticated or successful as might have been expected had attackers been trained in the Middle East – a scenario that might have involved multiple synchronized attacks with bombs.

Instead, he said, it appears more likely to be an ISIS-inspired attack by a homegrown sympathizer without direction from organizers in Damascus or Baghdad.

“It’s to try to deter and to demonstrate they have the power to bring the war to Ottawa – that you can’t sit thousands of miles away and expect to get away with it.”

Gordon said more attacks are probable, adding various softer targets could be vulnerable.

Remembrance Day is coming soon and will be a major test of bolstered security.

“Major cenotaph gatherings have to be watched very carefully, if not cancelled.”

As for Parliament Hill, Gordon said security there was clearly inadequate in light of how close the gunman got to MPs and cabinet ministers, including the prime minister.

He said he’s surprised there was no apparent move to bolster security on Parliament Hill – a “very obvious target” – in light of Monday’s attack against soldiers in Quebec by a man RCMP had previously identified as a “radicalized” threat.

“That would have signalled to me the need to ramp up security at all potential targets.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Crews work to clear the aftermath of a three-vehicle collision that occurred Wednesday morning (Jan. 20, 2021) at the intersection of 16 Avenue and 156 Street. (Tracy Holmes photo)
One person to hospital following three-vehicle collision in South Surrey

Police say it appears one driver went through intersection ‘as if it was not even there’

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo: nhl.com)
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

New United States Vice President Kamala Harris (left) and President Joe Biden (right) are sworn in at U.S. inauguration ceremonies Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C.. (Saul Loeb/Pool photos via AP)
Surrey Board of Trade highlights innovation, policy changes as new U.S. president sworn in

COVID-19, border re-opening among issues affecting city, SBOT says

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ralliers gather in front of the Cityviews Village apartment building in Maple Ridge to protest attempts to evict low-income tenants by the building owner. (Ronan O’Doherty - The News)
Tenants protest pressure tactics by new landlord at Maple Ridge apartment building

Protest held in front of Cityviews Village on 223 St. Tuesday to rally against low-income evictions

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Snow is forecasted to appear in parts of Metro Vancouver this weekend. (Black Press Media files)
Snow forecasted for parts of Lower Mainland this weekend

Environment Canada is predicting flurries and snow from Saturday to Monday evening

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read