But even as Ottawa police officers conduct these “soft” checks, they have been warned by the RCMP to use extreme caution when doing so, because police are thought to be targets of the violent extremist group ISIL (also known as ISIS).
The man who was Tasered Saturday, Luqman Abdunnur, was the subject of an RCMP national security investigation.
The 39-year-old was being investigated by a specialized unit that tracks and disrupts criminal behaviour of known terrorist groups or people deemed to pose a threat to national security.
Ottawa police officers were emailed RCMP briefing notes following gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s attacks at the war memorial and on the Hill Oct. 22. In a set of slides called “Officer Safety: ISIS” obtained by the Citizen, the RCMP details the militant group’s growth, threat to law enforcement officials and use of brutal behaviour such as beheadings and crucifixions.
The briefing notes advise that ISIL followers have been encouraged to follow police officers home, attack them while they enter and leave their homes, then film the interactions and distribute these on social media. The slides alert police to be on the lookout for ISIL-related graffiti tags or clothing.
As Ottawa police officers continue to receive multiple officer safety bulletins, they are also being asked to stop specific vehicles. They are urged to use extreme caution when making contact with certain individuals or vehicles, but are getting very little other information.
The RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team recently began monitoring Abdunnur with the assistance of the Ontario Provincial Police’s surveillance unit. On Saturday afternoon, RCMP made the call to have Ottawa police pull Abdunnur over in the area of Bank Street and Heron Road.
According to CBC Ottawa, local Muslims at two separate mosques have contacted police about Abdunnur in recent months, worried about his behaviour and about remarks they claim he made after Zehaf-Bibeau’s attacks.
Police allege Abdunnur became combative during the weekend traffic stop and say that, once out of the vehicle, Abdunnur began to pace back and forth and uttered a Muslim prayer, while refusing to show police his hands. Ottawa police deployed a Taser, unsuccessfully, to try to subdue him. Witnesses said the man began running away from the officers, then allegedly punched an officer who caught up to him.
An OPP surveillance unit officer then left his unmarked black police SUV and drew his weapon. The officer fired a single gunshot at the fleeing suspect, but did not hit him.
Ottawa police officers deployed the Taser a second time, hit the man, and took him to the ground. He was later taken to hospital, as was the officer who had been punched.
Family court documents reveal more about Abdunnur. For instance, at least one woman was trying to get him to pay child support.
According to court documents, the mother of one of his children alleged that Abdunnur has 14 children and “lives in polygamous arrangements with several women, which is why he has no fixed address.”
“Luqman has shown to be a careless person, who does not take responsibilities in life. He has 14 children in Ottawa which I am very certain he does not support,” the complainant alleged.
At one point during this woman’s family court proceedings, Abdunnur did not attend the mandatory information process. Court documents alleged that when Abdunnur was served with legal documents, he threw the papers in the garbage.
“Luqman became threatening after he was served the papers, saying, ‘You don’t want to be on my bad side’ and ‘You are going to take (me) to court? Trust me you don’t want to be on my bad side,'” the woman is quoted as saying in court documents.
A second woman who was married to Abdunnur until 2005, and who says she is the mother of seven of his children, said she met Abdunnur at a mosque in 1997 and started their relationship through telephone conversations. They were “religiously married under Islamic law in 1999.”
In January of 2010, Abdunnur was charged with assaulting another woman, with whom he also fathered a child. He was accused of damaging her cellphone and a telephone at her home on Bank Street, just minutes away from where police stopped him. According to court documents, all of those charges were withdrawn in April of 2010; the records cited no reasonable prospect of conviction. When stopped by police on Saturday afternoon, Abdunnar was driving a dark Nissan registered to this third woman.
A woman who answered the door at this woman’s apartment Wednesday evening said she did not know Abdunnur and he did not live there.
Ottawa police have charged Abdunnur with two counts of obstructing justice and one count of assaulting a peace officer following the traffic stop. He is currently in custody and is scheduled to appear in court by video on Nov. 4.
– With files from Andrew Seymour and Meghan Hurley, Ottawa Citizen.