Alexandre Bissonnette charged with six counts of murder in Quebec mosque shooting

Globe and Mail

Canadian authorities charged 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette, a white Laval University student "described as a loner with anti-immigrant views," with six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in a Sunday night mass shooting at the Quebec City Islamic Center on Monday, NBC News reported.

According to NBC, there were more than 50 people present at the mosque when a gunman opened fire, killing six and injuring 17. Bissonnette then called 911 from a bridge "near Île d'Orléans, an island in the Saint Lawrence River, and was armed and ready to surrender."

The Globe and Mail additionally reported Bissonnette's "online profile and school friendships revealed little interest in extremist politics until last March when French nationalist leader Marine Le Pen visited Quebec City and inspired Mr. Bissonnette to vocal extreme online activism, according to people who clashed with him."

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose visit to Quebec City Alexandre Bisonnette's associates told the Globe and Mail began Bissonnette's interest in far-right politics.Source: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose visit to Quebec City Alexandre Bisonnette's associates told the Globe and Mail began Bissonnette's interest in far-right politics.  Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

"I can tell you he was certainly no Muslim convert," fellow Laval student Vincent Boissoneault told the paper. "I wrote him off as a xenophobe. I didn't even think of him as totally racist, but he was enthralled by a borderline racist nationalist movement."

Boissoneault also said Bissonnette supported U.S. President Donald Trump, who recently issued an executive order banning refugees and residents of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the U.S., in online posts.

Earlier coverage cited reports from witnesses the attacker shouted "Allahu Akbar," a common Arabic phrase translating to "God is greatest" known as the takbir. But the identification of Bissonnette indicates the massacre, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to as a "terrorism attack on Muslims," was motivated by far-right views on race and nationalism similar to white supremacist Dylann Storm Roof's 2015 massacre of nine African-Americans at Charleston, South Carolina's historically black Emanuel AME Church.