Security agencies were “closely monitoring” the situation after a video repeating calls by ISIS to kill Canadian civilians, police and members of the military was posted on the Internet, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said on Sunday.
The video showed footage of the attack on Parliament Hill as well as last week’s killings in Paris, and quoted from a statement issued last September by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al Adnani calling for terrorist attacks in the West.
While the 9-minute video was a compilation of earlier threats made by ISIS, and was not an official ISIS release, it specifically named Canada and, coming after the Paris attacks and the killings of Canadian Forces members, police were taking no chances.
“Given the recent terror attacks in France and in Canada, this new threat should be taken seriously,” the RCMP said in a message sent to members on Saturday after the video appeared on a Twitter account that has since been suspended.
“Because members of law enforcement are clearly mentioned by ISIS as priority targets, it is critical that you exercise a heightened level of caution and vigilance when carrying out your duties,” Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana wrote.
The video surfaced a day after the RCMP arrested twin brothers from Ottawa on multiple counts of terrorism — one of whom was stopped as he was allegedly about to board a flight to Frankfurt, raising flags he may have been heading for Syria.
Carlos Larmond, 24, was ticketed to transit through Germany to India but authorities suspected the second leg of his trip may have been a ruse. Frankfurt is a popular travel hub for Western extremists on their way to Syria and Iraq via Turkey.
Arrested Friday at Montreal’s Trudeau airport, he has been charged with two terrorism-related counts: participation in the activity of a terrorist group and attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.
His twin brother Ashton Carleton Larmond was arrested in Ottawa and has been charged with facilitating terrorist activity, participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group.
“Canada will not be intimidated and stands firm against terrorists who would threaten our peace, freedom and democracy,” Mr. Blaney said in response to the latest pro-ISIS video. “While I cannot comment on operational matters, we will not hesitate to take all appropriate actions to counter any terrorist threat to Canada, its citizens and its interests around the world.”
The last ISIS video threat to Canada was made by John Maguire, a radicalized Ottawa Muslim convert who allegedly knew the Larmond brothers. It said that Canadians would be indiscriminately targeted and that Muslims were obliged to either join ISIS or “follow the example” of the attackers who struck in Ottawa and Quebec.
“My clients intend to vigorously defend these allegations,” the Larmonds’ defence lawyer, Joseph Addelman, said Saturday outside the Ottawa courthouse where the brothers made their first appearances.
“This is going to be a case where we are going to determine how much value the Canadian system truly places on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and these matters will be determined in court.”
Asked by a reporter where Carlos Larmond had intended to travel when he was arrested, Mr. Addelman said the Crown had not yet disclosed those details. The RCMP declined to comment on Mr. Larmond’s suspected travel plans.
She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful
“We’re not revealing the cities or destinations where he was heading at this time,” said Sgt. Richard Rollings, an RCMP spokesman. The RCMP press release said only that he was arrested “as he was intending to travel overseas for terrorist purposes.”
Police have been struggling to track more than 100 Canadians whom they suspect have adopted violent extremist beliefs and may attempt to travel abroad to engage in terrorism. Syria and Iraq are currently the top destinations.
The threat is two-fold: that those who leave could return to conduct Paris-style attacks; and that those unable to leave could carry out simple but deadly acts of terrorism such as the October killings of Canadian Forces members.
Since the murders in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, Canadian counter-terrorism officials have ramped up their investigations, adding hundreds of officers to Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams across the country.
“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to prevent these individuals from leaving Canada to engage in terrorist activity overseas,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, officer in charge of federal policing operations, said in a statement.
The charges against the hockey player twins relate to alleged terrorist activities that occurred since last August. The five-month investigation was conducted by the RCMP, Ottawa Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police.
The Larmond twins were raised by their grandmother, Linda Brennan, in the Ottawa suburb of Vanier and attended Rideau High School. “She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful,” a neighbor told the Ottawa Citizen.
“You’d never see them apart,” said another neighbour. “If one’s walking down the street, the other’s not far behind.”
Nearly five years ago, the woman said she heard one of the brothers had a Muslim girlfriend and was looking to convert. “Whatever one does, the other does, too,” she said.
A former hockey teammate, who asked to be identified only as Doug, said Ashton Larmond had played on his team in the Minto Adult Hockey League. He recalled that while they waited for the Zamboni to finish clearing the ice in late 2013, a police officer had walked past, prompting Ashton to tell Doug that he was a newly converted Muslim and he was being watched by the RCMP.
“They’re all watching me because I’m a new Muslim and they think I’m doing stuff when I’m not doing stuff,” Doug recalled Ashton telling him. “He said to me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the RCMP was stupid,” Doug said.
The team soon grew to have difficulties with the young man. “He had a lot of anger on the ice. He would smash his stick on the board if he didn’t get passed [the puck] when he wanted it. He was very vocal about things so we had some inner team fighting around him,” Doug said. “He seemed like a pretty nice guy, to be honest.”
But as the season progressed, seemingly insignificant squabbles began to surface. One erupted into a larger dispute where Ashton claimed the team captain owed him $20. The team chose to kick him off the team.
The Larmonds were scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 12.
National Post, with files from the Ottawa Citizen