Canada Parliament gunman wanted to go to Saudi Arabia, not Syria: Mother

This image from a close circuit video shown during an Oct 23, 2014, press conference at Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa shows supected shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (circled) running towards the Canadian Parliament. -- PHOTO: AFP
This image from a close circuit video shown during an Oct 23, 2014, press conference at Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Ottawa shows supected shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (circled) running towards the Canadian Parliament. -- PHOTO: AFP

TORONTO (REUTERS) - The Canadian citizen who police contend shot dead a soldier at the nation's war memorial before charging into Parliament had intended to travel to Saudi Arabia, not Syria, his mother said in a letter to a news agency published on Saturday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Thursday that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, had travelled to Ottawa from Vancouver to try to obtain a passport and intended to travel to Syria, saying that his mother, Susan Bibeau, had revealed that information in an interview.

But Bibeau told Postmedia, which publishes many major Canadian newspapers, that she had said her son intended to travel to Saudi Arabia, not Syria.

"I want to correct the statement of the RCMP," wrote Bibeau, who is deputy chair of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. "I never said he wanted to go to Syria, I specically said Saudi Arabia.

"They taped my conversation, so there can be little doubt about the accuracy of what I said."

RCMP officials described Zehaf-Bibeau, whose attack ended when security officials shot him dead, as having become radicalised in recent years, a label they also applied to another man who ran over two soldiers outside Montreal with his car on Monday, killing one.

A US source described Zehaf-Bibeau as a recent convert to Islam. An official at the Libyan embassy in Ottawa on Friday said Zehaf-Bibeau, whose father was born in Libya, had attempted unsuccessfully to secure a Libyan passport.

Bibeau said she had minimal contact with her son over the past five years, but recently met him for lunch, where he discussed his views.

"Most will call my son a terrorist," Bibeau wrote. "I don't believe he was part of an organisation or acted on behalf of some grand ideology or for a political motive. I believe he acted in despair.

"I am not sure of the meaning of being radicalised. I doubt he watched much Islamic propaganda, I doubt he wanted to go to Syria."