Chief calls firebombing 'domestic terrorism'
Published Friday, May 21, 2010 3:16PM EDT
Ottawa's police chief is calling the firebombing of an RBC branch in the Glebe a form of domestic terrorism, and he's confident police will arrest the people behind the crime.
Vern White says police have strong leads after a self-described anarchist group named FFFC-Ottawa claimed responsibility for the attack. He predicts they will be caught before the G8 meetings June 25 and 26.
"I'm confident we'll catch, we'll get these people. I'm not necessarily convinced that they don't anticipate they'll get caught. It's not everyone who posts their crime on YouTube," White told CTV Ottawa.
Although this type of attack is not common in Ottawa, the police chief says it doesn't come as a surprise.
"I'm not overly shocked that something happened. I don't think anyone would have suggested that was going to happen, but this type of domestic terrorism behavior is not a big surprise."
He added police can't presume the group won't strike again.
A video of the fire posted to an anti-establishment website hours after the early morning attack shows two men fleeing the bank's foyer through the side door moments before flames rushed through the front of the building, shattering windows and littering the sidewalk with debris.
Although Ottawa's police chief is calling the attack a type of domestic terrorism, police need to look at the group's motivation to determine if charges other than arson will be laid.
Tom Quiggin, senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, says if the group's intent was to create a large atmosphere of fear and intimidation to change the direction of G8 and G20 policymakers, or the Royal Bank, the crime could be upgraded to a level of terror.
The anarchists are now on the radar of a special police unit that monitors potential threats related to the G8.
RBC has since increased security at the site, and elsewhere. Other Canadian banks are also re-examining their security measures in advance of the international meetings in June.
Police are now pouring over the group's online video as well as footage taken by surveillance cameras in the ATM area of the bank.
Anyone with information about the fire or the group behind the attack is asked to contact Ottawa police at 613-236-1222, ext. 2199 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS).
With files from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman and Kate Eggins