Ottawa shooter urged by Burnaby man to do no evil, six weeks ago

"David said to him,’you better not be going there to do the Devil’s work," explains the Burnaby father of David Bathurst, who had loose contact with the Ottawa terror suspect

Masjid Al Salaam Education Centre John Bathurst Michael Zehaf Bibeau
Clockwise: Burnaby Mosque - Masjid Al-Salaam & Education Centre; David Bathurst; and Ottawa terror suspect Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Mosque photo by Mychaylo Prystupa.

A young Burnaby man had very recently urged the key gunman figure in the Ottawa terror incident not to commits acts of evil, the Vancouver Observer has learned.  Both he and the Ottawa gunman were worshippers at the same mosque in Burnaby – the Masjid Al-Salaam & Education Centre.

Explaining all this is John Bathurst – the father of David Bathurst.  The father states that David,  who converted to Islam in recent years – was not a close friend of the now-accused killer Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, but saw him occasionally at the mosque where they both prayed.

“David saw him six weeks ago, and he was talking crazy.  He was going to the Middle East to study.  And David said to him,’you better not be going there to do the Devil’s work,” said John Bathurst on Thursday.

He added, his son was "upset by this whole thing" and getting overwhelmed by media calls from across North America.  He said any contact he had with the terror suspect is coincidental and he is cooperating with authorities.

"[My son] practices a moderate version of Islam very, very faithfully. And because he's a nice guy and hired some guy, suddenly he's thrust into the limelight."

John Bathurst said he and his son had hired the accused Ottawa terror suspect as a labourer to dig trenches in 2011.  He quit after just two days, Bathurst said.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau is the person identified as having shot and killed Canadian solider Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24 near Parliament Hill on Wednesday, before he ran with a long gun into the Parliament Building, where he was shot to death in a hail of bullets by security forces.

The gunfire of this incredible moment was dramatically captured on videotape.  Before collapsing, Zehaf-Bibeau had made it to within metres of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was meeting with his Conservative caucus behind an unlocked door.  

When the shots broke out, Harper ran into a "broom closet" according to the Canadian Press.

The RCMP said Thursday the gunman "acted alone" - a reversal of an earlier theory that there were multiple shooters.

Bathurst insists his own son is part of  the “99.9 per cent of Islam that is peace-loving” and is against terrorism.

CSIS watching Burnaby mosque?

But the father also disclosed that the mosque where his son and Zehaf-Bibeau attended has been under the watch of CSIS – Canada’s spy service – for some time and had several “bad apples”.  He said his son would have a statement shortly for the media. 

“He’s running [the statement] by the CSIS guy that he’s been in touch with,” said Bathurst.

“You want a real story – go find out what’s going on [at the mosque.]” 

One the mosques' chairpersons said its place of worship is working closely with intelligence and police officials about possible terror links.

"You know we're always working with CSIS right? My husband has been working with them. We all work with CSIS to make sure everything is OK,” said Hazra Ismail with the Masjid Al-Salaam and Education Centre. 

“We're all Canadian and we want the way we have lived in Canada. There is no place in the world that lives like this, and we're lucky to be here, so when we see anything wrong, we...do whatever is needed,” she added. 

The mosque will host a press conference Friday at 10:30am regarding any possible connections there may be to the Ottawa terror. 

Bathurst said he has no worry about his son becoming radicalized -- the thought was ridiculous, he said.

"I'm not worried about him becoming a radical. We have conversations constantly around the family table around dinner about how things are and balance things out. He's a very balanced person. I'm not worried at all as a parent." 

There is intense global interest in the Burnaby mosque. 

The building was surveilled by local, national and international media Thursday, including the Wall Street Journal.  The New York Times is also interviewing the same father that the Vancouver Observer spoke with.

The BC Muslim Association said Michael Zehaf-Bibeau “may have attended one of our Mosques” in recent times.  It also condemns the recent attack on Canadian soldiers in Quebec, as well as yesterday’s attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

“These are senseless, brutal crimes reflecting complete disregard of human life, the law and Islamic teachings and values. The criminal violence displayed by the perpetrators this week has no place in our society,” said the statement, issued Thursday afternoon.

More updates coming.

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