Terrorism Proceedings and Countermeasures: Canada’s Response to Security Threats

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The US and Canada enjoy longstanding collaboration on defense and security, including counterterrorism cooperation. Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level remained at “medium” over the years, telling authorities assessed a violent act of terrorism could occur.

In March 2022 Mohammad Moiz Omar allegedly penetrated Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Center in Mississauga, Ontario, and released bear spray while brandishing a hatchet.  Worshipers ventured Omar before anyone was seriously hurt. Omar encounters six charges, including assault with a weapon and nursing a noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause physical harm. On June 8 the deputy attorney general agreed to begin terrorism proceedings against Omar, noting his alleged offenses constituted terrorist activity under Canada’s Criminal Code.

On October 26, Canada returned Kimberly Polman, Oumaima Chouay, and Chouay’s two children from an expelled persons camp in Syria. Both adults were captured upon arrival in Canada. On October 27, Polman occurred in Chilliwack Provincial Court, British Columbia, for a bail hearing connected to a Terrorism Peace Bond application initiated under Canada’s Criminal Code. Polman was discharged, subject to bail conditions. Chouay, who had been under examination by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team since 2014, had four terrorism-related charges filed against her.

In 2022, Canada’s Federal Court carried hearings on a September 2021 lawsuit filed by family members of several Canadian nationals detained in camps in Syria. Applicants desire to force the government to repatriate prisoners based on the “right of return” to Canada insured to citizens under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In a December 1 filing, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) announced to the court it had chosen 19 detainees (six women and 13 children) who met a point under the government’s 2021 policy for delivering “extraordinary assistance” to Canadians abroad, and GAC was considering whether to deliver repatriation assistance.

Canada also amended regulations under its Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act that widened the legislation’s scope to protect crowdfunding platforms and certain involved payment service providers.

The Public Safety Canada (PSC)-U.S. DHS-led Ideologically Motivated/Domestic Violent Extremism (IM/DVE) Working Group formed a joint threat assessment in October, exploring commonalities and associations between IM/DVE individuals and groups in North America and how these parties connect, intending to mitigate difficulties in cross-border cooperation.

PSC’s Canada Center for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence persisted in its close collaboration with its U.S. counterpart, DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, and entertained with Five Eyes CVE working groups. On September 20, Canada committed $1.4 million (1.9 million Canadian dollars) through the Center’s Community Resilience Fund to fund Phase 2 of Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform.

Canadian media also briefed on intelligence estimates from the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Center (ITAC) on Freedom Convoy protests; partially redacted interpretations of these classified documents were discharged following a request under Canada’s Access to Information Act. While the demonstrations by the Freedom Convoy and related groups were not considered “extremist” events, ITAC set they fueled anti-authority sentiments among adherents of ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) and that “IMVE threats to political figures and government symbols will persist into the foreseeable future.”

In 2022, Canada ended its term as co-chair of the GCTF but stayed an active member.  Canada also remained involved in counterterrorism efforts of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  Canada continued its financial support to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund and remained a board member.

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