Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ottawa Shooting | Kerry says Canadian government attack clearly 'terrorist act'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lays a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa October 28, 2014.  REUTERS-Blair Gable
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lays a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa October 28, 2014. 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that an attack on the Canadian parliament and the country's National War Memorial last week in which a soldier was killed was clearly a terrorist act.

"Clearly, anybody who walks up in a premeditated way with a loaded rifle and attacks someone in uniform then purposely goes to a parliament, is committing, by common sense standards, a terrorist act," Kerry told a news briefing after talks in Ottawa with his Canadian counterpart, Foreign Minister John Baird.

Two days before the attack in Ottawa on Oct. 22, a car driven by a man described by police as a homegrown radical ran down two soldiers, killing one in Quebec.

Since then Canadians have debated whether the attackers were motivated by Islamist ideology and a desire to sow terror or whether they were merely mentally unstable and marginalized individuals.

Baird echoed the Canadian government's view that whatever the mental state of the attackers, their acts were terrorism.

Kerry came to Ottawa on his first visit to Canada since becoming secretary of state last year to show solidarity and discuss security issues following the attacks.

Kerry also said Canada and the United States would work to intensify their close security ties, including border security and intelligence sharing.

"Canada and the United States are now in discussions, not with any sense that things weren't done or that there was some information that we didn't somehow share or have, but rather with a view to making certain that every possible stone is turned over and every possible policy is reviewed, because our obligation obviously is to protect our citizens," he said.

Kerry said he was confident that in the coming days and months the two countries would come up with "some tweaks, some changes, some additions that will promote even greater security than we have today."

The United States and Canada share the world's largest undefended border and for decades have also exchanged information about people deemed to be high risk.

However, a Canadian official said on Saturday that Canada did not share some intelligence with the United States about the two men who carried out the attacks last week because of a 2013 court ruling limiting the transfer of personal data.

Kerry later toured the main parliament building, where bullet holes are visible from last week's gunfight between security officials and the attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

He then met at the airport with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who arrived from the out-of-town funeral of the soldier who was slain last Wednesday. Harper thanked Kerry for the show of solidarity.

Kerry responded that President Barack Obama wanted him to convey the deepest condolences of the American people and the United States' great respect for Canada's solidarity in "standing up against terrorism."

Kerry added: "We appreciated your word particularly about not being intimidated and the president and the American people wanted us to come to you and say we are with you and we are grateful for this extraordinary neighbor and great partnership."

The attacks in Ottawa and outside Montreal came during a week in which Canada sent warplanes to the Middle East to take part in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Canadian officials vowed their involvement would not be influenced by the attacks.

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