2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Canada
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||5 August 2010|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2009 Country Reports on Terrorism - Canada, 5 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c63b65026.html [accessed 14 March 2014]|
Canada was under a general threat from international and domestic terrorists, according to the country's Integrated Threat Assessment Centre's (ITAC) most recent "Biannual Update on the Threat from Terrorists and Extremists," published November 10. ITAC emphasized that al-Qa'ida (AQ) "has specifically identified Canada as a target on several occasions," while also noting that "homegrown Islamist extremists remain a threat to Canada." Single and multi-issue domestic extremists "maintain the intent and capability to carry out attacks against property in Canada," according to ITAC.
International terrorists did not attack Canada in 2009. However, Canadian officials continued to investigate a "series of bombings [of gas pipelines] in British Columbia for possible connections to environmental extremism," according to ITAC. Two bombing attacks in July in British Columbia were the fifth and sixth attacks against energy infrastructure there since October 2008.
In June, the government introduced two new bills in Parliament (C-46 and C-47) that would strengthen law enforcement powers and that have specific counterterrorism implications. Collectively known as the "Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act," the bills would amend the Criminal Code and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. C-46 would give police new powers to obtain Internet and wireless telephone transmission data. C-47 would require telecommunications service providers to retain a law enforcement intercept capability for all new technology they deploy. In March, the government re-introduced bill C-19, which would amend the Anti-Terrorism Bill to restore lapsed powers to hold investigative hearings as well as a form of preventive arrest whereby police may bring an individual before a judge in the early stages of terrorist activity to disrupt a potential terrorist attack, authorities that lapsed in February 2008 but which Parliament did not succeed in renewing before its dissolution in September 2008.
On October 6, Canada's Federal Court released its written decision authorizing warrants permitting the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to track terrorism suspects electronically overseas. The decision significantly expanded the electronic surveillance powers of Canadian law enforcement and security agencies to monitor suspected "homegrown" extremists. Previously, the Federal Court had argued it lacked jurisdiction to issue warrants for activities taking place outside Canada's borders.
On December 13, then-Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan announced that Canada was reviewing its national security certificate program following a series of court decisions that struck down certificates or ordered the government to provide more information in open court to defendants. In use since 1978, the security certificate system allows the government to detain non-citizens whom the government deems inadmissible to Canada under security-related provisions of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, pending deportation. On October 15 and December 17, the Federal Court of Canada revoked certificates, respectively, against Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui and Syrian-born Hassan Almrei, which reduced the number of active certificates in suspected terrorist cases to three.
Canada worked closely with the United States and the UN and other multilateral counterterrorism efforts – including the G8's Roma-Lyon Group and Counterterrorism Action Group – and in international nonproliferation groups, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Canada and the United States cooperated bilaterally through the Cross Border Crime Forum sub-group on counterterrorism and the Bilateral Consultative Group on Counterterrorism.
On numerous occasions, Canadian and U.S. officials discussed how to enhance intelligence and information sharing related to counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts. Despite Canada's strict privacy laws, Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director Richard Fadden argued publicly in October that information sharing is "vitally important to the protection of Canada."
On April 21, al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released two Canadian diplomats working for the UN whom the group had kidnapped in December 2008.
On June 4, a Federal Court judge ordered the Canadian government to bring Abousfian Abdelrazik back to Canada from Khartoum, Sudan, where he had been since 2003. Abdelrazik – whom the United States designated in 2006 as a terrorism supporter posing a significant risk to national security and who is also included on the UN Security Council's al-Qa'ida and Taliban Sanctions Committee's watchlist – returned to Canada on June 24. The Canadian government had refused to issue a passport to Abdelrazik until the issuance of the court order, citing "national security" grounds. The court ruled that the government's actions violated Adbdelrazik's freedom of mobility under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the government did not appeal the court's decision.
On December 9, freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, whom a criminal group in Mogadishu, Somalia had kidnapped along with an Australian colleague in August 2008, returned to Canada. An Australian businessman claimed publicly that he had paid US$ 600,000 to secure the pair's release on November 25.
Canadian prosecutors won a series of guilty pleas and convictions in terrorism cases. Most of them related to the disrupted 2006 "Toronto 18" plot, which involved a conspiracy to bomb Parliament Hill, Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters, and nuclear power plants.
On March 12, an Ottawa judge sentenced convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja to ten and one-half years in prison for financing and facilitating terrorism and two criminal code offenses related to building a remote-control device to trigger bombs. Police had arrested Khawaja in 2004, accusing him of conspiring with a British AQ cell in a thwarted London bomb plot in that same year. He is eligible for parole in 2014.
Saad Khalid, a 23-year-old Toronto-area man, pled guilty on May 4 to one charge of intending to cause an explosion as part of the 2006 "Toronto 18" terrorism plot. On September 3, an Ontario judge imposed a 14-year sentence with seven years credit for time served, making him eligible for parole in 2011. Crown prosecutors originally asked for 18 to 20 years and on September 30 appealed the sentence, which was still pending at year's end.
On May 22, Nishanthan Yogakrishnan, who was a minor when police arrested him, received a two and a half year prison sentence and three years of probation for his part in the "Toronto 18" plot. In light of time served, the judge released Yogakrishnan the day of the sentencing. He was the first person convicted under Canada's terrorism laws.
On September 22, another "Toronto 18" plotter, Ali Mohamed Dirie, pled guilty to one count of participating in the activities of a terrorist group. Crown prosecutors and defense counsel agreed on a seven-year sentence. On October 2, a judge granted Dirie five years of credit for his pre-trial confinement.
On September 28, Saad Gaya, 21, pled guilty to trying to cause an explosion for a terrorist group as part of the "Toronto 18" plot. Gaya faced a maximum 10 years in prison;
On October 1, a Federal court judge in Quebec found Moroccan-born Said Namouh guilty of four terrorism charges, all related to disrupted plots to attack targets in Germany and Austria. At the November 13 sentencing hearing, the prosecution asked for a minimum of 10 years in custody before parole eligibility.
On October 8, Zakaria Amara, whom prosecutors had described as one of the "Toronto 18" "ringleaders," pled guilty to two counts: knowingly participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion for the benefit of a terrorist group. As of December, the judge had yet to set Amara's sentencing date.
On November 25, an Ontario court sentenced Justain Dillon to one year in jail for anonymously telephoning Toronto Police with threats to blow up a New Jersey shopping mall in November 2006. Dillon pled guilty to causing a hoax regarding terrorist activity following his April 2008 arrest.
Canadian political leaders in both the ruling Conservative Party and the official Opposition Liberal Party remained firm in their March 2008 decision to withdraw Canadian combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2011. Canada has maintained its military presence with a 2,800-person battle group in Kandahar province as part of the International Security Assistance Force's Regional Command South. Canada continued to provide a Provincial Reconstruction Team for stabilization and development efforts and maintained its role in brokering improved Afghan and Pakistani police and military cooperation to enhance their mutual capacities to secure the border from insurgent and terrorist crossings. At year's end, Canada had suffered the deaths of 139 soldiers, one diplomat, and two aid workers in Afghanistan. It had suffered the highest proportion of casualties-to-troops deployed of any NATO member in country.