John Kerry offers condolences, support in his first official trip to Canada

John Kerry boards his plane en route to Ottawa, Canada.

Story highlights

  • Secretary of State Kerry is on his first official trip to Canada
  • He has a message for terrorist groups, and efforts to thwart their recruiting
  • No place is safe for those who "pervert the teachings of a great religion, murder the innocent"
  • Kerry pledges the U.S. will work "even more closely" with Canada to prevent terrorism
Speaking from Ottawa on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said last week's deadly shooting there was an act of terrorism, and the United States is taking steps to counter extremist groups including ISIS online, which has sought to recruit and radicalize Westerners to its cause.
"There are a great many avenues here, all of which are being structured within the confines of an overall strategy," Kerry said of U.S. efforts, "But we will leave no effort untested with respect to our efforts to shut down the ability of these people to propagandize, to lie, to deceive, and to have whatever influence they may be able to have on young minds."
Both Canada and the United States have seen dozens of their citizens leave North America in recent months to join militant groups on the battlefield in Syria.
Just last week, three teenagers from Colorado were stopped from leaving the United States with the intent of joining ISIS, law enforcement officials said. And the terror group has featured fighters with North American accents in recent propaganda videos.
Canada travel ad or pro-ISIS video?
Canada travel ad or pro-ISIS video?


    Canada travel ad or pro-ISIS video?


Canada travel ad or pro-ISIS video? 02:31
The U.S. and Canada also share concerns about the prospect of more so-called "lone wolf" attacks like the one in Ottawa last week.
The shooter, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was only the latest in a string of young Western men, often converts to Islam with criminal backgrounds, who have become radicalized by extremist messaging and who sought to commit attacks.
Just a few days before Zehaf-Bibeau opened fire at a war memorial and Parliament Hill, another Canadian man rammed his car into two Canadian soldiers, killing one of them.
And following the Ottawa attack, an American man, Zale Thompson, attacked four New York police officers with a hatchet before he was shot dead. New York police said Thompson was a self-radicalized convert to Islam, and they categorized the assault as a terrorist attack.
The ability of groups like ISIS to influence and recruit Westerners online is one of the capabilities the U.S. and Canadian governments hope to disrupt.
During his visit, Kerry also laid a wreath at the National War Memorial where Zehaf-Bibeau gunned down army reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo on Wednesday, before continuing on to a nearby Parliament building where he ultimately was shot and killed.
Kerry's trip, happening the same day Cirillo was laid to rest, gave the Obama administration another opportunity to express solidarity with the Canadian people in the aftermath of the attack.
"President Obama, the State Department and our entire administration pledge to work even more closely with your leaders at every level in order to deter and prevent terrorist attacks," Kerry said.
Kerry also had a message for ISIS and other terrorist groups.
"The question that our adversaries want us to ask is 'Is there nowhere safe?'" Kerry said. "And that is a question to which we firmly reply: No.
"There is nowhere safe for those who would pervert the teachings of a great religion, murder the innocent, betray their neighbors, and line up on the side of such pernicious groups as (ISIS) and al Qaeda."
This is Kerry's first trip to Canada as secretary of state.