Country Report on Terrorism 2016 - Chapter 2 - Canada

Overview: In 2016, Canada played a significant role in international efforts to detect, disrupt, prevent, and punish acts of terrorism. Canada and the United States maintained a close, cooperative counterterrorism partnership, and worked together on key bilateral homeland security programs such as the Beyond the Border initiative and the Cross Border Crime Forum. Canada made important contributions to the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and the Global Initiative to Counter Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), and Canadian diplomacy supported global efforts to prevent radicalization, counter violent extremism, and promote stability and the rule of law. Canada rigorously implemented UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) 2178 (2014) and 2199 (2015), monitored financial flows to counter terrorist financing, and implemented GCTF good practices on foreign terrorist fighters. The main terrorist threats in Canada are from Canada-based violent extremists inspired by terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qai’da and their affiliates and adherents.

Canada has made important contributions to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS over the past year. Although Ottawa withdrew its six deployed CF-18s from the effort in February, its two Aurora surveillance aircraft and one refueling aircraft remained in theater and Canada has tripled its contribution of Special Operating Forces which have been advising and assisting Kurdish Peshmerga in their efforts to recapture territory from ISIS. Canada has also provided significant humanitarian assistance to ISIS-impacted communities, including by accepting more than 39,000 Syrian refugees over the past year. Canadian law enforcement and security services are working to prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria.

2016 Terrorist Incidents: Canada experienced two terrorist incidents:

  • On March 14, Ayanie Hassan Ali attacked Canadian soldiers at a military recruiting center in Toronto. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) formally charged him with three counts of attempted murder, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, three counts of assault using a weapon, and one count of carrying a weapon dangerous to the public, all for the benefit of a terrorist organization.
  • On August 10, Aaron Driver was killed outside his home in southern Ontario by police officers while he was attempting to carry out a terrorist attack after he released a video pledging allegiance to ISIS. Driver was subject to a peace bond from earlier in 2016, which directed he not associate with any terrorist organization, including ISIS.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Canada’s legal framework includes significant penalties for committing terrorist acts, conspiring to commit terrorist acts, financing terrorism, and traveling abroad to engage in terrorism. Canada still faces; however, a significant challenge in prosecuting individuals who have traveled abroad to engage in terrorism, due to the difficulty in proving association with terrorist organizations or having committed specific terrorist acts. Traveling abroad to commit acts of terrorism is a violation of Canadian federal law. Current measures in place enforcing those laws include: peace bonds, which could involve the denial of passport applications or revocation of valid passports of Canadian citizens suspected of traveling abroad or aspiring to travel abroad to commit acts of terrorism; and the maintenance of a watchlist of individuals (both citizens and non-citizen residents) flagged for potential involvement with terrorist organizations.

In 2016, the following legislative activity impacting Canada’s counterterrorism efforts included:

  • Bill C-6 (“An act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act”) was passed by the House of Commons on June 17, and awaits its second reading in the Senate. The bill was introduced in February to amend the Citizenship Act to remove the grounds for the revocation of Canadian citizenship that relate to national security.
  • Bill C-22 (“An Act to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts”) was in the reporting stage in the House of Commons. In June, the government introduced the bill which seeks to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to define its composition and mandate.
  • Bill C-23 (“Preclearance Act, 2016”) awaits its second reading in the House, where it has been dormant since June 2016. When signed, it would implement the March 2015 Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance and provide U.S. officers with powers to facilitate preclearance with the caveat that the exercise of any such power would be subject to Canadian law.
  • Bill C-51 (“Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015”) was put out for public comment to fulfill an election campaign promise to amend “objectionable elements,” but no action had been taken before the end of 2016.

Canadian government entities shared legally available terrorism-related information with U.S. counterparts in a timely, proactive fashion. Prosecutors worked in close cooperation with specialized law enforcement entities that use accepted investigative, crisis response, and border security techniques. Canadian federal law enforcement entities have clearly demarcated counterterrorism missions and maintain working relationships with their provincial and municipal counterparts as well as with elements of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Canada’s border security network uses travel document security technology, terrorist-screening watchlists, biographic and biometric screening capabilities at ports of entry, information sharing between host government entities and other countries, and collection of advance passenger name record information on commercial flights to safeguard its borders. Canada and the United States have established border security collaboration under the auspices of the Beyond the Border initiative as well as within the framework of the Cross Border Crime Forum and other ongoing law enforcement exchanges. Canadian security forces maintain patrols to secure the country’s land and maritime borders, with the Border Enforcement Security Task Forces and Integrated Border Enforcement Teams serving as models for effective cross-border law enforcement collaboration and capacity-building agencies. Canada continued to develop a traveler redress policy and process.

Canada conducted numerous law enforcement actions against terrorists and terrorist groups over the past year. The most significant were:

  • On March 26, Kevin Omar Mohamed, who was subject to peace bond restrictions, was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and for possession of a weapon dangerous to public peace. On March 29, he was charged with participating in the activity of a terrorist group over a two-year period. Mohamed was also accused of traveling to Turkey in April 2014 to join al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusrah Front, a listed terrorist entity in Canada.
  • On December 5, Tevis Gonyou-McLean, a Muslim convert originally from Ottawa, was charged with allegedly threatening to bomb Ottawa’s police headquarters and issuing death threats. He had been arrested in August on RCMP fears he would engage in terrorism. He was not charged at the time, but was placed under a peace bond. He was subsequently rearrested on November 5 for breaching the conditions of the peace bond.

There are some deterrents to more effective Canadian domestic law enforcement and border security, most of which include privacy and disclosure issues. The United States and Canada signed a new Tip-Off US-CAN (TUSCAN) arrangement following Prime Minister Trudeau’s March 2016 visit to Washington, but the implementing protocols for the arrangement have not been developed. The development of a TUSCAN governance document continued at year’s end.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Canada is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, a FATF-style regional body. Canada also has observer or cooperating status in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America. Canada’s financial intelligence unit, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, is a member of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, and is responsible for detecting, preventing, and deterring money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities. Canada is also an observer in the Council of Europe’s Select Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures.

Canada has rigorous detection and monitoring processes in place to identify money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Canada implements the UN Security Council (UNSC) ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime; criminalizes terrorist financing in accordance with international standards through implementation of UNSCRs 2178 and 2199; freezes and confiscates terrorist assets without delay; monitors and regulates money/value transfer and other remittance services; requires collection of data for wire transfers; obligates non-profits to file suspicious transaction reports and monitors them to prevent either misuse or terrorist financing; and routinely distributes the UNSC ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions list to financial institutions.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Countering Violent Extremism: The RCMP National Security Community Outreach program promotes interaction and relationship-building with at-risk communities. The Department of Public Safety’s Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security fosters dialogue on national security issues between the government and community leaders, including diaspora groups. The government – at all levels: federal, provincial, and municipal – continued to work with non‑governmental partners and concerned communities to counter violent extremism through preventative programming and community outreach. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety was awaiting the appointment of a Special Advisor for its newly established Office of Community Engagement and Countering Radicalization to Violence and was financing a Community Resilience Fund to assist at-risk communities with US $900,000 per year.

International and Regional Cooperation: Canada prioritizes collaboration with international partners to counter terrorism and international crime and regularly seeks opportunities to lead. Canada is a founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum and co-chairs with Algeria its Sahel Region Capacity-Building Working Group. Canada remains active in numerous international fora dealing with counterterrorism, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN, the G-7, Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Commonwealth, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Maritime Organization, and the Organization of American States and its Inter‑American Committee Against Terrorism. Canada makes major contributions to GICNT, while its diplomacy supports efforts to prevent radicalization, counter violent extremism, and promote the rule of law overseas.

Global Affairs Canada maintains a Counterterrorism Capacity Building Program, which provides training, funding, equipment, and technical and legal assistance to states to enable them to prevent and respond to a broad spectrum of terrorist activity. Examples of activities supported by Canadian counterterrorism assistance include: border security; transportation security; legislative, regulatory, and legal policy development; human rights training; law enforcement, security, military, and intelligence training; chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear and explosives terrorism prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery; detection and prevention of terrorist financing; cyber security; and the protection of critical infrastructure.