The attacker on Canada's capital also had a criminal record and recently applied for a passport, planning to travel to Syria after undergoing a "radicalization process," police said. His troubled and transient past included robbery and drug offences. Zehaf-Bibeau's Past:
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, a Canadian citizen who converted to Islam, was identified by police on Thursday as the attacker in the incident that rocked Canada.
"(He) was lost and did not fit in. I spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that," a woman who identified herself as Zehaf-Bibeau's mother said in a statement.
"He is an interesting individual in the sense he had a very developed criminality ... a non-national-security related criminality of violence and of drugs and of mental instability," Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Bob Paulson said.
Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau had applied for a passport for travelling to Syria, but the passport application was delayed, which likely motivated him for the attack.
Paulson said emails suggested he had associations with people who had shared his radical views. The commissioner said Zehaf-Bibeau's email was found in the hard drive of someone charged with what he called a terrorist-related offence.
The attacker was not one of a group of 93 people the RCMP are investigating as "high-risk travelers," he added.
US officials said they had been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau was a convert to Islam. His father was a Canadian citizen of Libyan descent and Paulson said the gunman may have been a dual citizen of Canada and Libya.
In 2011, the offender begged a British Columbia judge to put him in jail, saying he was homeless and wanted to overcome a crack cocaine addiction, according to court records reported by Canadian media. He admitted to an old armed robbery in order to be jailed.
Steve Sikich, a friend who lived with Zehaf-Bibeau at a Vancouver homeless shelter said he had tried unsuccessfully to get off drugs.
Sikich said the last time he saw Zehaf-Bibeau he appeared grey and sickly, back on drugs, and was rambling about wanting to travel to Libya and then join the Islamic State.
The Canadian-parliament attacker stayed at the Ottawa Mission homeless shelter in a downtrodden part of the city for about 10 days before Wednesday's attack, several people at the shelter said.
Court records in Montreal showed the gunman was born to Susan Bibeau in 1982 after she had a brief relationship with Bulgasem Zehaf. The two had a rocky relationship but were married in 1989, Bulgasem said in an affidavit.
The attacker on Canada's capital also had a criminal record and recently applied for a passport, planning to travel to Syria after undergoing a "radicalization process," police said. His troubled and transient past included robbery and drug offences.