Ottawa police closing in on bank firebomb suspects
Ottawa police say they're closing in on the suspected firebombers who set this RBC branch alight early Tuesday morning.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto, The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — Police detectives investigating the brazen firebombing of an Ottawa bank are closing in on suspects who call themselves FFFC-Ottawa and expect to file search warrants in a case that has drawn global headlines, The Ottawa Citizen has learned.
Police have been scouring the burnt-out Royal Bank of Canada branch for forensic evidence and were reviewing security video and exploring tips from a concerned public Wednesday.
In a bold move, FFFC-Ottawa claimed responsibility for the firebombing in an online "catch-me-if-you-can" video that seasoned detectives have been reviewing since the Citizen alerted police to the video's existence Tuesday afternoon.
Police also obtained RBC surveillance video on Wednesday. Officers are working to confirm the identities of the suspect firebombers.
The bank was set ablaze at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, causing about $300,000 in damage.
Police weren't saying Wednesday evening how many individuals they believed were involved, nor were they clear on the gender. But at least three people are involved. Two are seen on video leaving the building just before the fireball exploded while a third person filmed the action that was eventually posted on a website.
Ottawa police and the RCMP are confident that the homegrown terrorists would be captured. The Mounties confirmed late Wednesday afternoon that A Division's Integrated National Security Enforcement Team is assisting with the investigation, led by Ottawa police.
INSETs share intelligence among various other law enforcement agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
A CSIS spokeswoman said the organization does not confirm or deny involvement in particular cases as a matter of policy.
On Wednesday, police canvassed area businesses, requesting all security video that may have captured images of the firebombers, who may have made their escape in an SUV.
The firebombers' video was posted to the Ottawa page of the Independent Media Centre. Attempts to contact the Centre were unsuccessful.
Since 2007, RBC branches across Canada have been targeted in dozens of attacks by Canadian anarchists and other extremists who view the bank as a symbol of corporate greed. RBC's major sponsorship of February's Olympic Games in Vancouver brought the simmering hostility to a boil.
But until now, the actions have been largely limited to smashing windows and ABMs, and other relatively minor vandalism. The site of Tuesday's early-morning firebombing and another Ottawa branch have reportedly been hit at least five times by vandals claiming membership in protest and political movements, from anarchists and anti-capitalists to Olympic protesters.
Ottawa police lead investigator Sgt. David Christie confirmed that an accelerant had been used to spark the blaze, which appears in the online video to have started as a massive fireball that scattered glass and debris across the sidewalk in front of the bank.
A Royal Bank spokeswoman said the bank would be stepping up security, but declined to go into details.