With the United States in the throes of a presidential election, an August 10 terrorist plot in Strathroy, Ontario, Canada did not grab much news coverage. Even so, the incident proved enlightening on a number of fronts, including the motivation of the terrorist.
Aaron Driver, 24, was a Muslim convert and ISIS supporter who posted a video in which he said: “O Canada, you received many warnings… You were told many times what would happen.” The masked Driver also said “You saw bodies of the filthy French lying in the streets. You still have much to pay for.” The Canadian Muslim convert also said “For this we thirst for your blood,” and “You will pay for everything you brought against us.”
Driver’s video warned that he planned to detonate a bomb in an urban center. On August 10, he hired a taxi and headed to a shopping mall in London, Ontario. Acting on a tip from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, Canadian police intercepted Driver, who detonated an explosive device before police shot him dead. His more powerful bomb never exploded, and the Muslim convert was already well known to Canadian authorities.
Known online as Harun Abdurahman, Driver made contact with jihadists in Britain and posted messages praising the October, 2014 attack on Canada’s Parliament Hill by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, another Canadian Muslim convert. In June 2015, Canadian authorities arrested Driver but did not bring charges.
Instead, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) placed Driver under a court-ordered “peace bond,” which demands that a person “keep the peace and be of good behavior” and attaches additional restrictions. Driver’s peace bond limited his activities, forbade him from using the Internet and communicating with the Islamic State. The Muslim convert and ISIS supporter continued to plot terrorism and duly manufactured a bomb.
The August 10 detonation prompted a debate about the effectiveness of peace bonds in fighting terrorism. Ralph Goodale, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, told a police chiefs association that Driver’s actions showed that “peace bonds are tools and instruments with limited capacity, it’s not a perfect solution to every situation.” One option for terrorist sympathizers would be a requirement for “de-radicalization counseling” in order to “change behavior.”
Such counseling was part of Aaron Driver’s initial peace bond, but he challenged it on constitutional grounds and in January a judge ruled that it violated his freedom of conscience and religion. A judge also lifted Driver’s requirement to wear a GPS tracking device. Driver was not under physical surveillance, and his former lawyer, Leonard Tailleur, described him as a passive individual who gave no indication that he posed any threat.
The assessments of Driver, which Tailleur gave to the federal Department of Justice, revealed “no sociopathology, no psychiatric illnesses, any of those types of things.” On the other hand, Tailleur told the Globe and Mail, “there was this overriding religious conviction, which, I guess at the end of the day, was the compelling factor in his alleged latest decision to do what he did here.” In the fog of political correctness, that was a moment of clarity.
The compelling factor in Aaron Driver’s terrorist bomb plot was his overriding religious conviction. His religion was Islam, which he chose of his own free will. As Driver confirms, those motivated by Islam to kill innocent men, women and children in a shopping mall will not be deterred by any peace bond. Those who post videos proclaiming “we thirst for your blood” will not be deterred by any kind of counseling a court might require.
For those entrusted with public safety, the case offers other lessons. No details emerged about the way the FBI was tracking Driver, but the RCMP duly acted on the information and took down the terrorist. That marks a stars contrast to American practice in the case of U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, who described himself as a “Soldier of Allah” and was communicating with Anwar al-Awlaki about killing Americans.
American authorities knew full well about Hasan’s online communications with terrorists abroad but took no action against him. In November 2009 Hasan gunned down 13 unarmed American soldiers and wounded more than 30, which the president absurdly called “workplace violence.”
Like Nidal Hasan, Omar Mateen, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, all radical Islamic terrorists are motivated by their overriding religious conviction. Recognizing that reality is the first step in fighting terrorism and keeping innocent people safe. Canadian attorney Leonard Tailleur thus shows more honesty and common sense than the President of the United States. Against all evidence, the most powerful man in the world still refuses to recognize the religion of Islam as a motivator of terrorist acts.