Having cleared one suspect (of Moroccan descent) as merely a witness, The Globe and Mail reports that the white male suspect in the deadly Quebec City mosque attack yesterday 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.
As Reuters reports, a French-Canadian university student was the sole suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque and was charged with the premeditated murder of six people, Canadian authorities said on Monday, in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called "a terrorist attack."
Court documents identified the gunman in the attack on Sunday evening prayers as Alexandre Bissonnette. He was also charged with five counts of attempted murder, according to court papers.
Among the six men killed were a butcher, a university professor, a pharmacist and an accountant, according to police and Canadian media.
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.
Trudeau, who has made a point of welcoming refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, was quick to tell parliament in Ottawa: "Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack."
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.
And, coincidentally, as The Globe and Mail reports, Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a student at Laval University who lived on a quiet crescent in the Cap-Rouge suburb of Quebec City, 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.
Mr. Bissonnette's online profile and school friendships revealed little interest in extremist politics until last March when French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen visited Quebec City and inspired Mr. Bissonnette to vocal extreme online activism, according to people who clashed with him.
Vincent Boissoneault, a student in international relations at Laval University, grew up with Mr. Bissonnette and was friends with him on Facebook. He said they frequently clashed on politics when Mr. Bissonnette attacked refugees or expressed support for Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Trump.
"I can tell you he was certainly no Muslim convert. I wrote him off as a xenophobe. I didn't even think of him as totally racist, but he was enthralled by a borderline racist nationalist movement," Mr. Boissoneault said.
François Deschamps, an employment councillor who runs a refugee support Facebook page, said he immediately recognized Mr. Bissonnette's photo. "He was someone who made frequent extreme comments in social media denigrating refugees and feminism. It wasn't outright hate, rather part of this new nationalist conservative identity movement that is more intolerant than hateful."
Seems like a perfect fit for this "lone wolf" attack, right?
Which is why another friend's comments seemed to entirely dismiss this perspective...
Michel Kingma-Lord, who grew up with Mr. Bissonnette, said he was "shocked" by the news that his erstwhile friend was suspected in a mass shooting. The two had grown apart in recent years, but spent many happy hours collecting minerals together as boys, scouring the schoolyard for bits of quartz.
"He was a really good guy," said Mr. Kingma-Lord. "A very generous kind of guy, always listening, polite."
Mr. Bissonnette studied political science, Mr. Kingma-Lord said, but seemed more interested in the campus chess club than any kind of ideology. "He never posted anything about hate speech," Mr. Kingma-Lord said. "He wouldn't share any political ideology. When we talked, it was just normal talk."
Mr. Bissonnette's Facebook profile was removed from public view Monday morning along with the comments he left behind. Before Ms. Le Pen's visit, Mr. Bissonnette's friends say he showed little interest in politics, despite studying the subject at Laval University.
Before it was removed, Mr. Bissonnette's Facebook page revealed normal preoccupations of young adulthood. While he "liked" the page of Ms. Le Pen and other right-wing politicians, he also liked Garfield and pop stars such as Katy Perry.
A man of Moroccan descent who had also been arrested was now considered a witness, although his nationality was not immediately known, the Canadian source said.