OTTAWA, Ontario (Christian Examiner)—U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) issued a statement of solidarity today after a soldier was killed and at least three others treated and released from a local hospital Wednesday, Oct. 22, following a shooting that began at Canada's war memorial and ended at the country's Parliament.
"The attacks in Ottawa and Jerusalem yesterday are stark reminders that while radical Islamic terrorism may have originated in the Middle East, it is not confined to that region," Cruz said. "Our great and good friends in Canada and Israel were targeted because both countries share the same core principles of tolerance and freedom that we in America hold so dear—and which are hated by the vicious terrorists whose ultimate goal is to destroy us all."
Decrying the Canada incident, he lauded Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 25, who was guarding the memorial when he was shot down by a man Cruz said apparently was upset by Canada's support for operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"This episode is all too reminiscent of the attack on Fort Hood in Texas in 2009 when 14 Americans were slaughtered on one of our key military installations in a claimed retaliation for Muslims killed in Afghanistan and Iraq," Cruz said.
The lone gunman is identified as 32 year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau from Quebec. U.S. government sources have said the man was born Joseph Michael Hall and changed his name after a recent conversion to Islam.
The gunman was later killed by Parliament's sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers, 58.
Zehaf-Bibeau is the son of Canadian immigration official Susan Bibeau, according to FOX news. She is the deputy chairperson of a division of Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board.
The shooter held a decade long rap sheet that included a history of drug use prior to his conversion to Islam. He is believed to have ties to an alleged homegrown jihadist wanted by Canadian authorities.
Dave Bathurst who met the terrorist three years ago at a Burnaby, B.C., mosque told The Globe and Mail that a recent interaction with Zehaf-Bibeau left him alarmed. "We were having a conversation in a kitchen, and I don't know how he worded it: He said the devil is after him," Bathurst said in the report. "I think he must have been mentally ill."
Bahurst also told the Globe and Mail that Zehaf-Bibeau told him six weeks ago he wanted to go to Libya to study Islam and Arabic and that "erratic" behavior prompted elders at their British Columbia mosque to kick him out.
An investigation by Canadian authorities, in cooperation with the FBI, will also determine if there is a connection with a terrorist attack in Quebec earlier this week by a man Canadian authorities indicate was a "radicalized" Muslim.
Canadian lawmakers, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were on lockdown until nearly 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night when Ottawa Police decided there was no longer a threat.
Later in the evening, Harper made a televised address to the nation saying, "In the days to come, we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had, but this week's events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere in the world," Harper said. "Let there be no misunderstanding: We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated."
The shootings began in the morning when Cirillo was shot, point-blank in the back while standing guard at the Canada War Memorial.
Cirillo, 25, who later died at Civic Hospital, is survived by a 6-year-old son. He was a member of Canada's Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment.
Zehaf-Bibeau then opened fire inside Parliament as lawmakers were meeting in caucus rooms. Harper was addressing a caucus when the attack began, but was safely escorted from the building. It is uncertain how the shooter bypassed metal detectors to enter the building.
Vickers, whose post is regarded as "ceremonial" is being widely regaled as "Canada's Hero" today.
Although officials have not confirmed that Vickers fired at the gunman at the main entrance to the Centre Block, multiple eye witnesses and members of parliament have credited the 6-foot, 4 inch grandfather with saving their lives.
The shooting occurred two days after 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau, rammed his car into two soldiers in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other. Rouleau was later shot and killed by police.
Prior to the lockdown, Canada had raised its domestic terror level because of an "increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations like ISIL, Al Qaeda, al-Shabab and others who pose a clear threat to Canadians," said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.
That same chatter caused the United States to heighten security at its Embassy in Ottawa and at another consulate in the country, according to officials.
Prior to these incidents, both attackers' passports had been confiscated to prohibit travel abroad.
Cruz said yesterday's attacks in Canada and Israel point to Islamic radicalism as a global matter, and pledged support and empathy.
In Jerusalem yesterday, a 3-month-old baby girl, Chaya Zissel-Brown, was run over by a car driven by a Hamas associate who deliberately crashed into a crowd of civilians leaving a commuter train, Cruz said. The baby was an American citizen whose parents had recently emigrated to Israel from America.
"The United States stands unshakably with our close allies as we continue the long fight against the enemy who does not distinguish between our countries. We empathize with their losses as they are our losses as well," Cruz said. "Ultimately, our solidarity and shared commitment to the defense of our way of life is the source of our strength. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said today, such episodes only 'lead us to strengthen our resolve, to strengthen and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores. They will have no safe haven.'"