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Mother of soldier's killer speaks out about son

Toronto Sun crime reporter Chris Doucette. (Sun files)

By Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun




The “horrified” mother of the man who killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo believes her son was “at odds with the world,” possibly “mentally unbalanced” because of drug abuse and acting out of “despair” when he stormed Parliament Hill.

In a lengthy statement to Postmedia News, Susan Bibeau says she hopes to one day be able to mourn her son’s death despite the guilt and shame she feels over his actions.

But for now she can only think about the Cirillos and how “their family is broken.”

“As a person and mother I am horrified by the actions of my son, I am sickened by it,” Bibeau wrote. “There is nothing I can do to repair the damage my son has done.”

And while she’d do anything to help the slain soldier’s family, she has no idea “what is appropriate in these circumstances.”

She feels her son, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was “unhappy” and “religion and Islam (was) his way of trying to make sense of the world.”

Bibeau said she lost touch with the 32-year-old when he left for Vancouver five years ago.

He was in touch with her again recently but only because his religion “dictated” he “be good to his parents.”

Bibeau said when her conversations with her son were “one-sided” — he talked about religion, she listened.

She said Michael told her over lunch recently that he planned to go to Saudi Arabia — not Syria as the RCMP have claimed — to study the Qur’an, believing he’d be happier in an Islamic country where people “share his beliefs.”

But he was having trouble getting a passport.

Bibeau said her son travelled to Ottawa, where she lives and works as a senior official with the Immigration and Refugee Board, hoping to rectify the passport problem.

When his passport was refused, she believes he decided “to strike back at the government.”

“He felt cornered, unable to stay in the life he was in, unable to move on to the next one he wanted to go to,” Bibeau said. “He was mad and felt trapped so the only way out was death.”

Taking his own life would have gone against the teachings of Islam, so she believes Michael decided instead to go on the rampage cost him and Cirillo their lives.

“Regardless of the motivation, that was wrong and despicable,” Bibeau said. “I am just trying to provide context, (not) justify his actions.”

Although her son terrorized Parliament Hill, she doesn’t think he was a terrorist.

“For me mental illness, is at the centre of this tragedy,” Bibeau said.

She knew her son was unwell, but says he refused to allow her to help and chose to stay in a hostel rather than her home.

Now she will forever wonder what more she could have done.

“In closing, I wish to apologize to everyone, I am deeply sorry and deeply saddened by the events,” Bibeau wrote.