Three weeks before Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed a Canadian soldier and thrust the government into a terrified lockdown, he came to Ottawa to get a passport so he could travel to Syria, reports the Wall Street Journal. On the day before the episode, he prayed and slept in a downtown hostel for the homeless where he had been staying. Details about Zehaf-Bibeau began to fill in a picture of a middle-class suburban youth who grew estranged from his family. Last week he had lunch with his mother, Susan Bibeau, a federal civil servant he hadn't seen in five years, and descended into a string of petty crimes. What authorities couldn't answer was what led to the attack.
“I think the passport figured prominently in his motives,” said Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Zehaf-Bibeau was on the radar of Canadian intelligence and deemed a man “down on life,” said one person familiar with the investigation. He wasn't on a list of 90 Canadians deemed “high-risk” travelers because of their potential for terror links abroad, said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Canadian intelligence briefings indicate that the man had some form of mental illness.