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FBI agent whose tip thwarted 2016 ISIS attack in Ontario says he was glad to help

Aaron Driver is taken into custody in Winnipeg on June 26, 2015. He was later shot dead by police in Ontario after leaving his house to conduct a bombing for ISIS.
Aaron Driver is taken into custody in Winnipeg on June 26, 2015. He was later shot dead by police in Ontario after leaving his house to conduct a bombing for ISIS. Global News

The FBI case agent who warned the RCMP about an imminent attack by a supporter of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) two years ago says he was glad he was “in a position to make a positive contribution.”

“I do this work because once you are exposed to it and see the threat that is out there, you can’t ignore it,” Greg Hunt said in an alumni profile on the Washington & Lee University website.

“It would haunt me if I didn’t do something about it. If I could unlearn what I know about the counter-terrorism threat, I would — and I would probably sleep better at night.”

The coordinator of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Roanoke, Va., Hunt was identified in the profile as the FBI agent who passed intelligence about Aaron Driver’s planned terrorist attack to the RCMP on Aug. 10, 2016.

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Video footage showing Aaron Driver is seen behind RCMP officials at a press conference Aug. 11, 2016 in Ottawa.
Video footage showing Aaron Driver is seen behind RCMP officials at a press conference Aug. 11, 2016 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS

The RCMP has said a tip from the FBI alerted them to a video in which an extremist pledged allegiance to ISIS and said he would be responding in Canada to a call by the terror group’s leader for “jihad in the lands of the crusaders.”

After identifying the masked man in the video as Driver, police converged around his house in Strathroy, Ont. When Driver came out and got into a taxi, they confronted him but he detonated an explosive device and police shot him dead.

“He wanted to detonate an IED [improvised explosive device] and kill as many Canadians as he could,” Hunt said. “Fortunately, the Canadians were able to act on the information quickly.”
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READ MORE: A year after ISIS supporter’s attempted bombing in Ontario, RCMP trying to reconstruct electronic device

The son of an FBI agent, Hunt graduated from Washington & Lee University in 1997 and later went to work for a law firm in Roanoke, Va., according to the profile. But following the birth of his son and the death of his father in 2006, he decided to join the FBI.

Based at the FBI’s Roanoke Resident Agency, Hunt and his colleagues on the case were awarded the 2017 Director’s Award for Excellence in Counter-terrorism last October, the profile said.

“They’ve given me entirely too much credit, if you ask me, but it was an interesting case to work on, and I was glad I was in a position to make a positive contribution,” Hunt told the university.

“I was the case agent, but it took a village, as they say, including personnel from FBI headquarters, FBI offices around the world, and our Canadian counterparts,” Hunt said.

Click to play video 'Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story' Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story
Aaron Driver’s father shares his son’s story – Aug 12, 2016

The RCMP arrested Driver in Winnipeg in 2015 over his online support for ISIS but he was never charged. Instead, police used a terrorism peace bond to try to reduce the risk he posed.

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But after moving to Strathroy, he built an explosive device and plotted an attack. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said Driver intended to attack Toronto’s Union Station, but the RCMP say investigators “cannot establish without a doubt the intended target, but Union Station was among other potential sites.”

The taxi driver injured by Driver’s bomb recently filed a $1-million lawsuit accusing police of negligence for failing to stop the would-be terrorist before he detonated his explosives in the back seat of the cab.

READ MORE: Taxi driver injured after ISIS supporter Aaron Driver detonated bomb files $1M lawsuit

“The defendants were negligent in the planning, preparation, and execution of the apprehension of Driver, and failed to properly supervise the operation to reduce the risk to innocent third parties,” reads the 12-page statement of claim.

The police agencies all declined to comment because the matter was before the courts.

A joint investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police and Strathroy-Caradoc Police Service concluded the police shooting was justified. An independent review by the Crown upheld the finding.

Stewart.Bell@GlobalNews.ca