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Transit Agencies Warned Of Terror Threat Before Police Killed Suspect

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STRATHROY, Ont. — Transit agencies in Toronto were warned of a security threat before RCMP confronted a terrorism suspect in a southern Ontario town west of Canada's largest city.

Aaron Driver, who was originally from Winnipeg and had been under a court order not to associate with any terrorist organization, died during a police operation on Wednesday, although details on just what happened have yet to be released.

The RCMP said it had received credible information of a potential terror threat, identified a suspect and taken action to ensure there was no danger to the public.

On Thursday morning, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission said the agency was made aware of a terror threat investigation early the previous day, but noted that it had no specifics attached.

toronto transit commission
The Toronto Transit Commission was warned of a security threat before RCMP killed a suspect in Strathroy, Ont. on Wednesday. (Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Brad Ross said that as a precaution a "vigilance notice'' was issued to all staff encouraging them to say something if they saw something of concern. He said such notices are commonly issued after security incidents around the world or if the TTC is advised of threats closer to home.

A spokeswoman for Metrolinx, the Ontario government agency which runs the Greater Toronto Area's regional transit lines, says it was also advised of a security threat.

Anne Marie Aikins says the agency raised its level of vigilance and worked closely with national, provincial and local forces in response.

The RCMP is holding a news conference in Ottawa at 1:30 p.m. ET to provide details on the case.

'It's a little crazy'

In Strathroy, a neighbour of Driver's said he couldn't recall ever seeing the man around town.

But he said Wednesday's incident — and the discovery that a terror suspect lived only a stone's throw away — hit "a little too close to home.''

"For me, having two kids and my wife and a possible terrorist ... sympathizer down the street, it's kind of ... it's a little crazy.''

Last year, federal authorities were so suspicious Driver might have ties to a terrorist group that he bounced in and out of jails and courtrooms for months, all without any actual charges ever being laid — and he had no criminal record at the time.

aaron driver february 2016
Aaron Driver leaves the Winnipeg Law Courts on Feb. 2, 2016. (Photo: John Woods/Canadian Press)

In June 2015, Driver was first picked up in Winnipeg. Published reports at the time suggested Driver posted messages on social media that praised terrorist activities, including the attack on Parliament Hill in October 2014 by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Amarnath Amarasingam, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University who studies radicalization and terrorism, maintained in 2015 that Driver posted for several months on social media about disliking Canada and about a desire to move overseas.

Mounties applied for a peace bond that could impose limits on Driver's activities, alleging in provincial court documents that investigators believed he might help with terrorist group activities.

When Driver, who was in his mid-20s, was released later that month, he was ordered to comply with 18 different conditions, including wearing a GPS tracking device.


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