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Canadian police kill man warned about Islamic State ties and say he planned suicide bombing

A photo of Aaron Driver is shown on a screen during a police news conference at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa on Aug. 11.
(Lars Hagberg / AFP/Getty Images)
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A Canadian man banned from associating with Islamic State extremists has been killed as Canada’s national police force said it thwarted what was believed to be a suicide bomb plot.

The suspect allegedly planned to carry out the suicide bombing in a public area, a senior police official said Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak ahead of a Thursday news conference, identified the suspect as Aaron Driver, a man in his mid-20s originally from Winnipeg.

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Driver had been under the spotlight for at least a year. Authorities believed he was a threat because he could help terrorist groups, the official said.

The police operation involving Driver took place Wednesday night in the southern town of Strathroy, 140 miles southwest of Toronto.

Details of how Driver died have not been released. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it halted a possible attack after receiving credible information of a potential terrorist threat.

Transit agencies in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, were warned of a security threat before police confronted the suspect. Brad Ross, spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, said the agency was made aware of a terrorist threat investigation early the previous day, but noted that it had no specifics attached.

He said that as a precaution, a “vigilance notice” was issued to all staff members, encouraging them to speak up if they saw something of concern. Regional transit lines were also advised of a security threat.

Police said that a suspect was identified and that the “proper course of action has been taken” to ensure no danger to public safety.

Driver was under a court order this year to not associate with any terrorist organization, including Islamic State. In February, Driver’s lawyer and a prosecutor agreed to the order, known as a peace bond, stating there are “reasonable grounds to fear that he may participate, contribute directly or indirectly in the activity of a terrorist group.”

Winnipeg-based lawyer Leonard Tailleur, who handled Driver’s peace bond, said he was shocked to hear what had happened.

“Saddened to hear that it had to end this way for him,” Tailleur said in an email to the Canadian Press.

Driver was first picked up in Winnipeg in June 2015.

Amarnath Amarasingam, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who studies radicalization and terrorism, maintained in 2015 that Driver had posted for several months on social media about disliking Canada and about a desire to move overseas.

Mounties applied for the peace bond, which can imposed limits on Driver’s activities, alleging in provincial court documents that investigators believed he might help with terrorist group activities.

When Driver was released that month, he was ordered to wear a GPS tracking device and banned from going on the Internet or having any communication with Islamic State, including wearing or carrying anything with an Islamic State logo.

Later, Driver was allowed to remove his monitoring bracelet but continued to be prohibited from using a computer or cellphone — rules that were to be in place until the end of August.

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