People gather around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill during a vigil following a deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, January 30, 2017. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Quebec mosque shooting thought to be ‘lone wolf’ attack

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec (Reuters) - A French-Canadian university student was the sole suspect in a shooting at aQuebec City mosque and was charged with the premeditated murder of six people, Canadian authorities said, in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called "a terrorist attack."

Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on Sunday (Jan. 29) evening prayers as Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, and charged him with six murder counts and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted weapon. The slightly-built Bissonnette made a brief appearance in court under tight security wearing a white prison garment and looking downcast.

Prosecutors said all of the evidence was not yet ready and Bissonnette, a student at Université Laval, was set to appear again on Feb. 21. No charge was read in court and Bissonnette did not enter a plea.

"The charges laid correspond to the evidence available," said Thomas Jacques, a representative of the prosecutor's office, when asked why Bissonnette was not charged with terrorism-related offences.

Among the six men killed were a butcher, a university professor, a pharmacist and an accountant, according to police and Canadian media.

The government of Guinea said in a statement that two of its citizens were among those killed in the mosque attack.

Police declined to discuss possible motives for the shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec.

"They consider this a lone wolf situation," a Canadian source familiar with the situation said.

In Washington, U.S. government security experts were leaning to the view that the gunman most likely was motivated by hatred for Muslims, a U.S. government source familiar with official reporting said.

Trudeau, who has made a point of welcoming refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, told parliament in Ottawa: "Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack."

"Last night this community experienced something that no community should ever have to know: Unspeakable cruelty and violence perpetrated on those who came together in friendship and in faith," Trudeau said later at a vigil attended by hundreds who braved frigid temperatures in Quebec City.

He added a personal message to Canada's 1 million Muslims:

"We stand with you. We love you and we support you and we will always defend and protect your right to gather together and pray today and every day," Trudeau added.

The attack was out of character for Quebec City, a city of just over 500,000 which reported just two murders in all of 2015. Mass shootings are rare in Canada, where gun control laws are stricter than in the United States.

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became an issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In addition to the six killed, five people were critically injured and 12 were treated for minor injuries, a spokeswoman for the Quebec City University Hospital said.

Federal Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told reporters in Ottawa there was no change to "the national terrorism threat level" from medium because "there is no information known to the government of Canada that would lead to a change at this time."

U.S. President Donald Trump called Trudeau to express his condolences "and offered to provide any assistance as needed," said Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad.

Over the weekend, Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, his response to an executive order by Trump on Friday to halt the U.S. refugee program and to temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Trump's action, which the president said was "not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe," was widely condemned in the United States and abroad as targeting Muslims.

On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that the Quebec shooting was "a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation's safety and security."

Father of four killed

A father of four, the owner of a halal butcher near the mosque, was among those killed, said Pamela Sakinah El-hayet, a friend of one of the people at the mosque.

The mosque concierge was killed, as was Ahmed Youness, a 21-year-old student, El-hayet told Reuters. One of El-hayet's friends, Youness' roommate, was in the mosque at the time of the shooting. He was unharmed, she said, but in total shock.

A man of Moroccan descent who had also been arrested was now considered a witness, although his nationality was not immediately known, a Canadian source familiar with the situation said.

Ali Assafiri, a student at Université Laval, said he had been running late for the evening prayers at the mosque, near the university in the Quebec City area. When he arrived, the mosque had been transformed by police into a crime scene.

"Everyone was in shock," Assafiri said by phone. "It was chaos."

Vigils were held in Montreal and Quebec City, the provincial capital, as well as in Edmonton. There was an outpouring of support for the mosque on social media.




  1. A lone wolf who admires Trump and Marine LePen.

  2. re: Sean Spicer’s comment – I guess Canada will need to be next on Trump’s list- ‘this is why we need to be vigilant’

  3. Hi, everyone & fellow believers.  I hope all of us by now know what “fake news” is, how it works, to what end and all that.  Well, apropos and on-topic per the present article, but poor Mr. Trump, though, here’s one breaking “fake news” (for the critique of which you’d need to go to Canada Free Press and Zerohedge – sorry) from Canada’s own The Globe and Mail and UK’s Daily Mail – ready? …

    (1) “The suspect in the deadly attack on a Quebec City mosque was known in the city’s activist circles as a right-wing troll who frequently took anti-foreigner and anti-feminist positions and stood up for U.S. President Donald Trump.  Alexandre Bissonnette … attacked refugees or expressed support for Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Trump.” (Globe and Mail, January 30, 2017)

    (2) “Other students described (Alexandre Bissonnette) to DailyMail(dot)com as a pro-Trump loner but a timid man who didn’t seem capable of committing an act of terror. … A classmate told DailyMail(dot)com that Bissonnette was pro-Donald Trump and that they had engaged in political arguments about the president.  ‘Based on the conversations that I had with him during the American presidential campaign, it’s true he is pro-Trump,’ the student, who asked to remain anonymous, said. … The shooting came as protests erupted across the US in response to President Donald Trump’s immigration ban against seven Muslim-majority countries which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned earlier on Sunday.” (Daily Mail, January 30, 2017)

  4. Both were confirmed. This is the typical white nationalist crazy shooting up a minority house of worship. The Moroccan man arrested was a witness and even called the Canadian version of 911. That person was let go.

    Of course if the shooter is white, it is a lone wolf attack. If the shooter has a darker complexion, their acts are reflective of their entire people in collective guilty.

  5. “White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that the Quebec shooting was “a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.”

    Well that’s just stupid. How is the president being proactive in this regard? Is he going to round up white Christian men and put them in internment camps? (In another article the terrorist described himself as a Christian.)

    Or is SS saying we should keep Muslims out so white Christians don’t shoot them? The Quebec terrorist attack has no relationship the president’s Muslim ban.

  6. Unfortunately, one possible lesson learned for the authorities/experts , is that rapid radicalization is possible that is fed by/supported through unmoderated social media. Being personally called out is usually a much different on-line experience and in fact, the expression, don’t feed the trolls, changes that experience from one that is face to face or in a group of people. In fact, you can indoctrinate yourself into a belief system. In terms of acting, I think there is a pyramid that begins with thinking, then writing publicly and with enough “likes’, writing and writing again continually reinforcing the thinking. And unfortunately with young men, their thinking doesn’t get past what’s next after acting. I feel that there are strong similarities between this young man and Dylan Roof.

  7. The footnote above – “(for the critique of [this breaking fake news] you’d need to go to Canada Free Press and Zerohedge – sorry)” – refers to (1) “Get Ready for the ‘Donald Trump’s fault Terrorism Revolution’” by Judi McLeod, Canada Free Press, January 30, 2017; and (2) “Quebec Mosque Shooter Reportedly A Racist, Sexist Le Pen/Trump-Supporting Lone-Wolf” by Tyler Durden, Zerohedge, Jan 30, 2017. A bonus, though not as critical, is “Suspect in Quebec Mosque Attack Quickly Depicted as a Moroccan Muslim. He’s a White Nationalist”, by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, January 30 2017.

  8. To have anything “confirmed” isn’t “what ‘fake news’ is, how it works, to what end and all that.” Cf. my comment below to Arbustin.

  9. The fake news was the initial account by Fox News that the Moroccan man was the suspect. Local Quebecois (Francophone) news sources corrected the error. FoxNews won’t anytime soon.

  10. They did with an apology to PM Trudeau. But only after Trudeau’s communications chief Kate Purchase sent a letter to Fox News
    Channel’s co-president, Bill Shine, outlining that the erroneous post
    continued to be circulated online. (She also tweeted the contents).

  11. I really don’t get your point. Are you suggesting it is MSM that is the source of fake news about this horrific act? Or that it is the CFP etc writers/reporters that don’t know the difference between an op-ed piece and reporting news? Or that it is not a lone wolf attack? Or that it was a terrorism attack? Or that Bissonnette was not the shooter? He wasn’t white? Etc. Etc.

  12. If the fake news about Edgar M. Welch targeted Pizzagate investigators (to stop them from investigating Pizzagate), then the intended target of the fake news about Alexandre Bissonnette is Donald Trump (to get him ended up … what?).  Hence the line, “poor Mr. Trump”, in my original comment.  Remember, fake news isn’t false news, but politicized news.

  13. There seems little point in politicizing Canadian news by Canadian media to purposely target Mr. Trump for anything specific. The young man obviously liked politicians with specific positions towards immigration and refugees which he had also expressed in different forums following the visit of Marine Le Pen (but also Canada’s best known left leaning politician – now deceased but who had been handily elected in Quebec in the election before last.) If anything, there have been criticisms of the PM for playing nice with Mr. Trump over his action in closing the borders. Now Alex Jones report – that was fake news.

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