WATCH ABOVE: RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson provides update on seizure of suspect’s passport
TORONTO – Details of the life of 25-year-old Martin Rouleau, the suspect in a deadly hit-and-run that Canada’s safety minister described as “linked to terrorist ideology,” are slowly coming to light since he was shot to death by police on Monday.
Global News spoke with friends and neighbours in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., who suggested Rouleau had a young child, was living at his father’s home, and had converted to Islam within the last two years. Police entered Rouleau’s father’s home to continue their investigation Tuesday.
The young suspect is believed to have used the Facebook name “Ahmad Rouleau” on a profile, where there are posts in both English and French about Allah as well as graphic posters with references to Islam’s superiority over Christianity and quotes from religious texts.
He’s also reportedly been linked to the Twitter handle “Abu Ibrahim AlCanadi” (which has no tweets) and an account on Ummaland, a social media site popular with Muslims. In his profile photo, he holds a Qur’an, wearing a jihadi face covering.
Rouleau claimed the cleaning company he co-owned has been robbed over a year ago, and became angered when authorities didn’t take action against the culprit, according to a report in the Toronto Star. A friend told the Star he fell into depression, becoming obsessed with practicing his new religion and trying to convert his friends.
Rouleau was known to police; RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said he was among 90 people being monitored in an attempt to identify people who may commit a criminal act while “travelling abroad for terrorist purposes.”
Paulson also said Rouleau’s passport had been seized by RCMP during its investigation; a source confirmed he had been trying to travel to Syria.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) described Rouleau as “radicalized” in a Monday statement.
“The individual who struck the two CAF members with his car is known to federal authorities, including the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team,” the PMO statement read. “Federal authorities have confirmed that there are clear indications that the individual had become radicalized.”
The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) refers to the RCMP’s counter-terrorist security forces, operating under Public Safety Canada. Various teams operate in major Canadian cities including Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto—where INSET played a major role in arresting the “Toronto 18” terror cell in 2006.
“What took place yesterday is clearly linked to terrorist ideology, and that’s why we’re offering the support of the INSET in the investigation,” said Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.
Watch below: Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the attack on Quebec’s soldiers was “linked to terrorist ideology”
Rouleau was driving a car that slammed into two Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members in the parking lot of a Service Canada in Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu on Monday morning. He then drove off and was chased by police until he lost control and rolled into a ditch. Quebec Police Lt. Guy Lapointe said the suspect left the car after losing control and had a knife in his hand.
Witnesses say Rouleau was shot up to seven times by police; he was pronounced dead Monday evening.
“Right now the working thesis is that it was a deliberate act,” said Lapointe, who added the RCMP INSET team is responsible for investigating the motives behind the attack.
Soldier Patrice Vincent, 53, died of his injuries early Tuesday. The second unnamed soldier has minor injuries and is expected to recover from the attack, according to Lapointe.
Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call investigators