Following an attack in Edmonton where a police officer was stabbed and four were pedestrians struck down by a fleeing U-Haul truck Saturday night, many in B.C. are on edge.
But while there is no specific threat to the province, the BC RCMP is reminding everyone to be vigilant about their surroundings.
Vancouver International Airport’s former head of security said this type of incident does have an effect on the broader community beyond the city where the attack took place.
“I think when we look at this in its context, the whole idea of a terrorist attack is to, obviously, incite fear in the immediate community but it’s the effect it has on the broader community,” said terrorism expert Jeremy Spindlove.
“So people in Vancouver, obviously there’s no specific threat to Vancouver, or even Toronto that we know of, but Friday night there was a mass number of people in [Vancouver’s] downtown core, concerts, sporting events, and the opening of the casino so wherever there’s a large gathering of people, as we’ve seen in France, as we’ve seen in Spain, as we’ve seen in London, they’ve become a target,” said Spindlove.
“So you can harden facilities, but you can’t put a cord around everything and everybody, it’s not possible.”
He said this incident in Edmonton has similarities to some other attacks around the world, particularly in London in June.
“I think we’re going to be drawing similarities from what we’ve seen in Europe, particularly, more recently in the summer months in London, in the Borough Market area, where a vehicle was used to ram pedestrians. The same thing appears to have taken place here in Edmonton,” said Spindlove.
“I think what makes this concerning is that he had two attempts at this – the first one was ramming his vehicle into the police officer, and then the presence of the Islamic State flag and attacking the police officer with a knife. We don’t see any evidence of the moment, or we haven’t heard of any evidence that there was any other explosive devices in that vehicle.”
“But obviously, people are going to draw similarities between what’s happened in Edmonton and what’s been going on in Europe.”
WATCH: Mubin Shaikh joins Jennifer Palma to talk about the terror attack in Edmonton Saturday night. Shaikh is an expert on radicalization, deradicalization, countering violent extremism (CVE), national security and counter-terrorism.
Spindlove added that while the investigation in Edmonton is still in its early stages, police will no doubt be looking into the suspect’s online activity leading up to what happened Saturday night.
“They have the young man and they will no doubt be tracking his online activity, what chatrooms he goes into, his Facebook. I mean, we only have to go back to Aaron Driver in 2016,” he said. “That young man had actually posted a video and it was the American authorities who alerted Canada to his online presence.”
“Although Driver was known to police, he didn’t immediately figure in their presence of mind that he was going to launch an immediate attack.”
Canada relies heavily on the cooperation between authorities here and in the U.S. to monitor suspicious online activity.
“The United States spends a lot more time and a lot more money tracking and monitoring online activity and we rely on the good cooperation between Canada and the U.S. in that monitoring service,” said Spindlove.
“Whether Canada can build the same level, I doubt that, because the threat may seem to not be as extreme as Canada as it obviously would be to a U.S. target.”
“It’s very difficult to thwart what is being termed a ‘lone wolf’ attack, such as this,” added Spindlove.
“There was another lone wolf attack today in Marseille where two women were attacked and had their throats cut and killed so it’s very difficult to preempt an event like that from taking place.”
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