Two attacks in Canada within the span of three days—one in the form of a hit-and-run by suspected jihadist Martin Rouleau on October 20 in Quebec, and another by multiple shooters (one of whom identified as a Canadian national named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau) on October 22 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa—has prompted strong reactions among the online jihadist community.
Most comments by jihadists and jihadist supporters on Twitter have referred to Canada's support in the US-led coalition against IS, using the attacks to incite lone wolf attacks as well as claim justice.
Since the Canadian announcement to join the coalition, jihadists have been making calls for attacks within the country. As recently discussed by SITE Director Rita Katz, such calls have come from high-ranking figures like IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani, who included Canada as a player in "the final campaign of the crusaders," and other jihadists online.
Following this week's attacks in Canada, jihadists have made a note to push for more. Among these commenters have been purported Canadians, some of which claiming to be living in Syria under IS. The account of "Abu Khalid Al-Kanadi," a Canadian jihadist who has made numerous calls for attack in his homeland, commented on Rouleau's attack, stating on October 21, 2014:
Abu Khalid Al-Kanadi's account, as of October 22, 2024, has been suspended.
Another Canadian jihadist allegedly fighting in Syria also tweeted on Rouleau's attack on October 21, 2014, claiming that Canada is "starting to pay the price of Intervention." In another tweet, he followed up with a subtle implication for more attacks among Canadian Muslims:
On this user's Ask.fm account, an anonymous user commented that "Rouleau was NOT cowardly," stating that "he attacked soldiers, not civilians." To this statement, he responded, "yep..very true."
The following day, the same jihadist mockingly commented on the shootings in Ottawa as the event unfolded, stating, "Canadian Soldiers told to leave their uniforms at home when out in public. Now they are like their allies the Iraqi Army."
Another jihadist-supporting account of an alleged Canadian posted a link to an article regarding Rouleau's attack and commented that it "was only a matter of time." The message was accompanied by IS hashtags.
Jihadists on Twitter, along with calling for additional attacks, have characterized the attacks as fair revenge. One jihadist-supporting Twitter user stated:
u kill inncent Muslims in Syr,Irq and so on in the name of dfnding agnst terrorism and u lie to the masses,dnt be surprised
To the same note, the Twitter account of alleged fighter in Syria stated:
The Twitter account of a prominent Dutch jihadist fighter in Syria commented with same sentiment, stating that the country is "getting a taste of their own medicine," and followed up:
Another jihadist-supporting account made a similar argument in a four-tweet message, stating:
It's always stunning when a country that has brought violence and military force to numerous countries acts shocked & bewildered. when someone brings a tiny faction of that violence back to that country. it's not the slightest bit surprising or difficult to understand why people who identify with those on the other end of Canadian bombs. and bullets would decide to attack the military responsible for that violence.
Reactions by jihadists and jihadist supporters reflect not only revenge, but also prompts to force an argument, and thus propaganda, onto Western audiences. Like previous Western jihadist attackers, Rouleau, and perhaps the Ottawa shooters, will be gradually turned into demigods by which jihadist can appeal to for recruitment and lone wolf attacks in the West.