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A Tangled Web: How the Media Misleads the Public on Terrorist Threats

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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Jan. 3, 2015

Public perception about the so-called “Global War on Terror” is manipulated in various ways by a trail of misinformation and disinformation.

This article is a case study on the October 22, 2015 lone gunman rampage of Parliament Hill in Ottawa that was used by the  government of Steven Harper to justify the Canadian entry into the US war in Iraq and, later, the US-led war on Syria. Despite being proven otherwise, the attack by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was reported as being linked to the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/DAESH/ISIS/IS).  

How and Why Facts Get Lost or are Ignored

On the day that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau went on his rampage, a tangled web of information was erected. In all the reporting by the media, the sources were lost. What resulted from this was the perception that Canada was under a foreign-planned attack led by the ISIL/DAESH.

One important source, @ArmedResearch, a US-based Twitter account that presents itself as a microblog for military studies, claimed that the Ottawa attack on October 22 was connected to an attack which took place two days earlier at Saint Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec (October 20).

According to @Armed Research, Martin Couture-Rouleau (who called himself Ahmad LeConverti, which means “Ahmed the convert” in French), who was behind the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu car ramming attack, and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were in some way connected. Couture-Rouleau had killed a Canadian soldier two days before Zehaf-Bibeau went on his rampage on October 22.

Presented subsequently in various media reports, the two incidents were said to be interconnected. They were portrayed as a coordinated and orchestrated attack. Additionally, the same Twitter account which posted a picture of Zehaf-Bibeau at the Canadian National War Monument starting his rampage within hours of the attack in Ottawa, namely @ArmedResearch, claimed that the photographs came from an ISIL/DAESH source. These were the first pictures of Zehaf-Bibeau and were widely reproduced by the Canadian and international media.