Country Report on Terrorism 2019 - Chapter 1 - Canada

Overview: Canada remains one of the strongest and most able U.S. partners in the global fight against terrorism, and CT cooperation with Canada is excellent. Prosecutors continued to face challenges in bringing to trial cases underpinned by battlefield evidence. Canada generally declined to repatriate FTFs or family members from Syria and Iraq. The government took the position that it had no legal obligation to facilitate their return to Canada, including those in the custody of Syrian Democratic Forces, but acknowledged a Canadian Charter right to return if the individuals approached Canadian territory.

2019 Terrorist Incidents: There were no terrorist incidents in 2019.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Bill C-59 received royal assent in June 2019. Among other provisions, the bill permits active cyber operations, strengthens the Canadian Security Intelligence Services’ ability to disrupt terrorist plots, and revises the criminal offense of counseling terrorism.

Canada listed a number of terrorist organizations in 2019. On February 11, Canada listed Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code and renewed the existing 60 entities on the list following the required two-year review. On June 21, the Al-Ashtar Brigades was listed as a terrorist entity in the Criminal Code. On June 26, Canada designated the REMT group Blood & Honor and its armed branch Combat 18 as terrorist organizations. On April 23, Canada added three Sikh-Canadian activists to its no-fly list. Two individuals, Bhagat Singh Brar and Parvkar Singh Dulai, have filed legal challenges.

Canada opened some new terrorism prosecutions while others remain ongoing:

  • In January, Hussam Eddin Alzahabi and a minor were arrested in Kingston, Ontario, and the minor was charged with terrorism-related offenses including knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity, counseling a person to use an explosive or other lethal device in a public place with the intent to cause death or serious bodily harm, uttering a threat, and “making or having in his possession or under his care of control an explosive substance” designed to endanger life “or cause serious damage to property.” The minor appeared in court on April 23 and has been detained since then.
  • In January and February, Rehab Dughmosh was convicted of four offenses related to an attempt to aid ISIS (two counts of assault with a weapon, one count of carrying a weapon, and one count of leaving Canada for the purpose of committing a criminal offense) and sentenced to seven years in prison for attacking workers at a Canadian Tire store on June 3, 2017. She also attempted to travel to Syria in April 2016.
  • On February 8, Alexandre Bissonnette was sentenced to 40 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the January 29, 2017, attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. The Crown appealed the sentencing on March 12, seeking 50 years in prison with parole only possible after 25 years.
  • On February 28, Pamir Hakimzadeh was sentenced to four years for one count of leaving Canada (in September 2014) to participate in a terrorist activity. On June 28, he was released after completing his sentence and the judge found Hakimzadeh had not continued to voice extremist views.
  • On August 27, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ordered a new trial for VIA Rail terror offenders Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier based on improper jury selection. The offenders chose trial by judge alone, to commence on September 14, 2020. The Crown appealed the decision on November 19.
  • On October 16, Awso Peshdary’s lawyers filed a charter challenge seeking a stay of proceedings in his long-running terror trial, alleging government secrecy around evidence destruction.
  • On October 24, Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi was extradited to the United States to face charges of conspiring to provide and providing material support to ISIS recruits.
  • On November 29, the Quebec Court of Appeal rejected an appeal from Ismael Habib, who is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for attempting to join ISIS in Syria in 2013.
  • On December 6, Ikar Mao was arrested in Ontario and charged with participating in the activities of a terrorist group and leaving Canada to take part in a terrorist activity. Mao earlier had faced terrorism charges in Turkey prior to his return to Canada in October.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), a FATF-style regional body. Its FIU, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC – CANAFE), is a member of the Egmont Group.

Canada’s Budget 2019 included an integrated plan to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, including strengthening the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s operational and investigative capacity, as well as strengthening FINTRAC’s operational capacity to increase compliance examinations and enforcement in the real estate sector.

Countering Violent Extremism: Canada has announced several new initiatives and funding:

  • On February 7, Canada announced the launch of the National Expert Committee on Countering Radicalization to Violence. It will advance the work of the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence and further the National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence.
  • On February 11, Canada announced $1.33 million over five years to the John Howard Society of Ottawa to pilot the Project ReSet program, designed to provide at-risk persons with individualized intervention plans.
  • On March 6, Canada announced a grant of $279,329 over three years to the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to study REMT, which Canada sometimes refers to as “ideologically motivated violent extremism,” and to conduct analysis of online content and media coverage.
  • On March 27, the Canada Centre concluded a week of events to further Canada’s National Strategy on Countering Radicalization to Violence.
  • On June 26, Canada announced a contribution of up to $761,145 to Tech Against Terrorism for the creation of a digital repository to assist smaller companies to detect and remove online terrorist content. Canada also will convene a Youth Summit on Countering Violent Extremism Online to learn about online threats and develop effective tools to combat them.
  • On August 21, Canada announced $231,580 over three years to the Centre of Expertise and Training on Religious Fundamentalism, Political Ideologies, and Radicalization for research on what it terms “far-right extremism.”

International and Regional Cooperation: Canada became co-chair (with Morocco) of the Global Counterterrorism Forum in September 2019 for a two-year term. Canada played a major role in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in 2019 and has been a leading contributor to the Coalition’s military support and humanitarian assistance. Canadian Special Forces in Iraq work with local counterparts to defeat ISIS. Canada also leads the non-combat NATO Mission in Iraq.