OTTAWA (Reuters) – Top Canadian security officials are due to testify on Monday before a parliamentary committee about threats facing the nation in the same building where a man described as an homegrown militant opened fire last week as Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with lawmakers.
On Sunday police said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the man who killed a Canadian soldier and attacked the Parliament building made a video of himself just before the attack, evidence that he was driven by ideological and political motives.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said they were analyzing the video and could not release it at this time.
The head of the RCMP and a senior official at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will likely face tough questions from a Senate committee about how Zehaf-Bibeau and another man, Martin Rouleau, 25, both described by police as homegrown radicals were able to kill two soldiers on Canadian soil last week in separate attacks.
The incidents have prompted Harper and his Conservative colleagues to scramble to strengthen anti-terrorism legislation and sparked questions about Canada’s culture of openness that allowed anyone to walk freely into the Ottawa parliament building.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson also could face questions about Zehaf-Bibeau. Paulson told reporters last week that he had come to Ottawa seeking a passport and intended to travel to Syria, a hotbed of Islamic militant activity.
But Zehaf-Bibeau’s mother, a top Canadian bureaucrat dealing with immigration issues who Paulson cited as the RCMP’s source for the information, denied his assertion. In a letter to news agency Postmedia, she said she told investigators her son told her he wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia to study the Koran.
Questions have also come up about how much information Canada shared with the United States about Zehaf-Bibeau and Rouleau, who ran over two Canadian soldiers in Quebec with a car, killing one, last week.
In the wake of Wednesday’s attack, some US officials raised concerns about security along the world’s longest undefended border.
Both Zehaf-Bibeau and Rouleau were shot dead by security officers.
While the two nations have long collaborated on intelligence matters, a Canadian official said on Saturday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service did not share everything it knew about the two men with its U.S. counterparts because of a 2013 court ruling limiting the transfer of personal data on Canadian citizens.
CSIS Assistant Director for Intelligence Michael Peirce is due to testify after Paulson.
The attacks came in the same week that Canada sent additional warplanes to the Middle East to take part in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Canadian officials vowed their involvement would not be influenced by the attacks, but urged soldiers at home to maintain a low profile, including avoiding appearing in public in their uniforms when off duty.
On Tuesday a funeral will be held for Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, who police said was shot dead by Zehaf-Bibeau while standing watch at the nation’s war memorial before he ran into parliament.
The funeral for 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who police said was run down by a car driven by Rouleau on Oct 20 outside Montreal will be on Saturday, Nov 1.