“Lone wolves” collaborating and frequently comparing notes.
“Youth arrested on terrorism charges had cell number for Couture-Rouleau,” by Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette, September 10, 2015:
The teenager from western Montreal currently on trial for allegedly preparing to leave Canada to take part in terrorist activity abroad communicated with Martin Couture-Rouleau dozens of times before the latter killed a Canadian soldier in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu last year.
The now 16-year-old teenager eventually admitted he had frequent exchanges with Couture-Rouleau during a nearly three-hour interrogation with a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) and an investigator with the Sûreté du Québec on Oct. 20. He was questioned, at a youth detention centre in Laval, just hours after Couture-Rouleau used his car to run over two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu including Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, who died in what the police quickly realized was a terrorist attack.
As the SQ investigated Vincent’s death they learned that Couture-Rouleau had a cellular phone. They then learned that the youth, who had been arrested on Oct. 17 in connection with an armed robbery at a convenience store in western Montreal, had the number for that same cellphone written down on a slip of paper found in a pair of his pants. The national security team was at the time investigating whether the youth held up the convenience store with a knife, to buy a plane ticket, possibly to fly to Syria and join ISIL.
Brahim Soussi, an RCMP investigator with INSET, and SQ detective Simon Desbiens questioned the youth about his links to the 25-year-old Couture-Rouleau. They were concerned Couture-Rouleau, who was fatally shot by police shortly after running over Vincent, was part of a network that might strike again.
At first, the then 15-year-old lied and said he did not know Couture-Rouleau. But as the interrogation continued late into the night the youth revealed much more. He and Couture-Rouleau had “less than 50” exchanges, mostly over social media, beginning in September. They exchanged ideas about religion and the state of Muslims around the world. They also made plans to meet at the Angrignon métro station, in southwest Montreal, near the end of September but never actually met “face-to-face.” Couture-Rouleau had shown up for the meeting but the youth said he was unable to go.
The youth also revealed that his last exchange, through Twitter, was on Oct. 15, five days before Vincent was killed and just two days before the boy was arrested for the armed robbery at the dépanneur (which he carried out on Oct. 11). On Oct. 15, the boy was considering robbing another convenience store and asked Couture-Rouleau, through Twitter, if he could borrow $50 to buy a new knife so he could rob again. His father had discovered the knife and mask he used in the boy’s bag following the Oct. 11 robbery and took the items away from him. He said nothing came of his request to borrow $50 because he was arrested before anything could happen.
The young teen was asked several times if he knew anyone else who was willing to carry out a terrorist attack. He said he knew of no one else and, at one point, he said he assumed he and Couture-Rouleau were the only people in the Montreal area who shared the same opinions on Islam. While he insisted he had no idea Couture-Rouleau would kill someone, he assumed the 25-year-old carried it out because of the involvement of Canada’s military in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“If someone else has the same intention as (Couture-Rouleau) I have to know,” Soussi said at one point in the investigation, which was recorded and played in court on Thursday.
“I don’t know,” the boy replied.
“You never had the intention to do (what Couture-Rouleau did)?” Soussi asked later on.
“I won’t answer,” the boy replied.
It was an answer the youth gave often, and he said a few times it was because he had a right to remain silent. Those replies appeared to stun Soussi and Desbiens.
“In 15 years as a police officer I have spoken to a lot of innocent people and a lot of guilty people and never has an innocent person spoken like this,” Soussi said. Near the end of the interrogation the boy was asked the same question and said he did not have the intention of doing the same thing Couture-Rouleau did.
“I don’t want to have problems,” the boy said.
It was Desbiens who got more information out of the boy on Oct. 20, perhaps because Soussi had had a sometimes heated debate with the boy over their perceptions of Islam three days earlier. The boy referred to Soussi, who is a practising Muslim, as an apostate — a person who abandons their religious beliefs — because he works for the RCMP.
Desbiens asked the boy how other Muslims living in Quebec would react to Vincent’s death.
“They will reflect,” the teenager said.
When asked to elaborate, the youth said the terrorist attack on Canadian soil would make it clear “that Canada is at war with Muslims and Islam.” He also said he believed that all Muslims should live in countries under Islamic law.
When asked what he thought of what Couture-Rouleau did that day he said: “It was well done.”
“Was it well done because it involved soldiers?” one of the investigators asked.
“Yes,” the teen said….