RCMP officials say they were tipped off by FBI officials to a terror threat in Strathroy early Wednesday morning, leading them to foil a plot by a 24-year-old terror threat to attack an “urban centre” during morning or afternoon rush hour.
A news conference on Thursday by RCMP shed more light on the interaction between police and Aaron Driver that left Driver dead.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana revealed that the the RCMP had been made aware of a video Wednesday morning from FBI officials; a martyrdom individual was in the final stages of preparing an attack using a homemade device.
“Very early in the morning, the RCMP received credible information from the FBI including a martyrdom video that had been prepared by an unknown individual.”
The individual in the video wore a black balaclava, and railed against western “enemies of Islam” while mentioning terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States.
They said they believed that the attack would take place within the following 72 hours.
Later that morning, around 11 a.m., RCMP say they confirmed that the person in the video was Aaron Driver through video snapshots.
Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Strachan went over the timeline of the police encounter.
“At approximately 4:30 p.m., that male suspect exited a residence on Park St. in Strathroy, and he entered into a cab that had just arrived. The RCMP Emergency Response Team engaged with the suspect who detonated a device in the back of the cab. The cab driver suffered minor injuries, and the suspect died during his engagement with police.”
Around 12:30 a.m., a body bag could be seen being loaded into a vehicle at the scene.
It’s not clear yet how Driver died.
Officials said they weren’t aware that a cab was coming to pick up Driver, nor did they know where the cab was taking him. They added that they didn’t know where Driver got the materials to make homemade devices.
The RCMP haven’t said what city was the alleged target.
The London Police Service and Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service were confirmed to be involved in the investigation, and RCMP officials thanked them for their support in helping identify and locate Driver.
“All of the involved agencies took immediate action as soon as the information was received, and thanks to the timely response and hard work of everyone that was involved, including all of our RCMP employees and partners, tragedy was prevented.”
RCMP added that they are investigating a residence at 43 Blanchard Cres. in London, where a heavy London Police presence could be seen Wednesday night. Police filled the parking lot at Wilfrid Jury Public School, though they were gone by Thursday morning.
Driver had been on police radar over the course of the last year. He was kept in police custody on suspicion that he may have ties to a terrorist group, though no charges were ever laid against him.
He was first arrested in Winnipeg in June 2015 after reports say he posted messages supporting the shooting at Parliament Hill in October 2014 by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
Driver was eventually released on a peace bond with a number of conditions, including wearing a GPS tracking device.
In February, Driver’s peace bond changed and his electronic bracelet was removed. RCMP admitted that Driver was not under constant surveillance.
In July 2015, he moved in with his sister in Strathroy.