Denying the ISIS Threat to Canada Just as Damaging to Institutions of the state and Government, as T
Islamic State (ISIS) Leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reportedly been heard from for the first-time in almost a year in a newly released audio tape to supporters calling on them not to lose hope and to carry out terror attacks on “Canada, Europe and elsewhere.”
Similarly, at the fall of the ISIS Caliphate in Syria and Iraq almost a year ago, Baghdadi urged his foreign fighters to go back to their home countries and carryout terror attacks. As we know, as many as 60 former ISIS fighters and their families have been allowed to return to Canada and they have not been prosecuted for their crimes abroad or Treason and Terrorism offences under Canadian law. Additionally, there are some at home in Canada that harbor sympathies for terrorist groups including ISIS that may someday act on those feelings and carry out extremist acts. Since ISIS came to global prominence in 2014, Canada has seen several terror attacks although not all have been portrayed or labeled as such. Some observers would argue that several incidents have been down-played or swept under the rug. Many have been portrayed as the actions of people with mental health issues, particularly by the perpetrator’s horrified families and by the Trudeau government. All are believed to have been carried out by ‘lone wolfs’ although questions remain unanswered in several of the events as a quick survey demonstrates.
Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, executed the vehicle ramming attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in October 2014 killing one CF member, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, and injuring another. He called 911 after the attack to say that he carried out the terror attack in the name of Allah and he appears to have been radicalized over the internet over Canadian involvement in Iraq. He was found with a large knife in his vehicle common in many ISIS-inspired vehicle attacks that the attacker was armed with something in addition to the vehicle.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, who carried out the killing of Corporal Nathan Cirillo and the attack on Parliament Hill in October 2014. Zehaf-Bibeau made a martyrdom video prior to the attack expressing outrage for Canadian involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. Police have hit a dead end as to how he obtained his weapon for the shooting attack.
Aaron Driver, 24, southern Ontario’s suicide bomber that was killed in a confrontation with police in August 2016 in Strathroy, Ontario, and who made a martyrdom video prior to his death was a self-proclaimed supporter of ISIS. No one has ever explained where he learned to make bombs, but he appears to have been radicalized on-line.
Ayanle Hassan Ali, 30, who attacked a CF Recruiting station in Toronto armed with a knife in March 2016. He too was angry about Canadian soldiers fighting in Muslim lands but was acquitted by the judge of terrorist offences claiming that he was mentally ill and terrorism offences failed to address ‘lone wolf’ terror attacks.
In January 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, executed a shooting attack inside the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in Sainte-Foy. Six worshipers were killed, and 19 others wounded. It was immediately labelled a terrorist attack by Prime Minister Trudeau, but terrorism charges were not laid in the attack. Bissonnette claimed his motivation was Trudeau’s tweet in response to US President Donald Trump’s travel ban and that refugees posed a threat to his family.
Somalia refugee, Abdulahi Sharif, 30, carried out the September 2017 vehicle ramming attack using a U-Haul rental vehicle outside Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and stabbed Edmonton police constable Mike Chernyk. Four others were injured in the vehicle incident. An ISIS flag was found in the vehicle used in the attack.
The July 2018 Danforth shooter Faisal Hussain, 29, killed two people and wounded 13 others in a well-orchestrated shooting attack on Toronto’s Danforth district was believed to have traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is also reported that he has ISIS sympathies. To date we have not been told his motive, how he obtained the weapon, who trained him to shoot and carry out the attack in the professional manner that he did, and his social media activities. We do not know if he was connected to the well reported earlier threat to the CN Tower and Rogers Centre.
The first two ISIS-related terror events that occurred in October 2014, the vehicle ramming attack by Martin Couture-Rouleau and the Parliament Hill National War Memorial attack by Zehaf-Bibeau were labelled as terrorist attacks by the Harper government and treated as such. As we do not know how Zehaf-Bibeau acquired his weapon it is still hard to say that he acted alone.
Under the Trudeau government only the Aaron Driver suicide bomber case and the Quebec City Mosque attack by Alexandre Bissonnette were attributed to terrorism. Driver was labelled a terrorist threat because his martyrdom video was relayed to Canada by US law enforcement and he planned to carryout a suicide bombing. After waiting for almost 24 hours the Trudeau government was forced to release information of the threat for public safety. On the Mosque shooting, clear hate crime, the government in the middle of an islamophobia debate immediately labeled the attack terrorism. But the Lone wolf criminal acts by Ayanle Hassan Ali, Abdulahi Sharif, and Faisal Hussain have been attributed by the Federal government as people who all suffered from mental illness and have not been attributed to ISIS.
It is a convenient excuse to explain away crime and terrorism by downplaying the threat and arguing that it was a just case of someone suffering from mental illness. Perhaps the individuals did suffer from mental health concerns. From the weak-kneed Trudeau government’s point of view there are fewer negative headlines, and questions to be asked in the media and in Parliament about people suffering from mental health issues that do terrible things then there are about ISIS inspired terrorists committing terrorist acts in an unprepared country like Canada. In two cases, Ayanle Hassan Ali and Abdulahi Sharif the police, the crown prosecution and courts have taken the view that their acts were criminal and due to mental illness because our terrorism laws do not account for people who are lone wolfs and not directed or directly attached to a terror group. If this is true, laws need to be amended, although the Trudeau government has shown no willingness to do so unless it is to undo the anti-terror provisions of the former Harper government.
Perhaps there is a large education piece on post-Cold War era terrorism that needs to be put into place in Canada and with Canadian Society, not to mention our Courts and in Parliament. There is the nexus between criminality and mental illness and ISIS-inspired and radicalized terrorists and their horrendous acts. Individuals do carry out terrorist attacks on their own, ‘lone wolfs’ inspired-by terror groups abroad do horrible things. Broken or young and naive people are material to be used by terrorists in their war on the West. They will use anything including animals and children strapped with bombs to execute a successful terror attack. If you have a plan to turn the Centre Block in Parliament Hill into a killing house, or to execute a mass casualty attack in the Danforth or to build bombs then you have the capacity to be radicalized even if you have suffered from mental illness. In terrorism it is the motive or the inspiration to carry out horrendous crimes to effect political change that is of important. Today we face a modern terrorist threat and burying our heads in the sand leaves us incredibly vulnerable to the likes of al-Baghdadi, ISIS, and their supporters around the globe.
In the end, the first duty of government is the defense and protection of the realm and for government to pretend threats do not exists, to down play them, to cover them up, or deny that terror attacks have occurred on Canadian soil is just as damaging to the legitimacy and credibility of the institutions of the state and its government, as the terrorist acts themselves.