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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Terrorism Threat to Canada

Filed under: Radical Islam, Terrorism

The Terrorism Threat to Canada
An ISIS Media Account Tweeted a Picture Purporting to Be Bibeau

On October 22, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, Canadian-born and a convert to Islam, shot dead a soldier and was killed after opening fire inside the Parliament in Ottawa.  Two days earlier, Martin Ahmad Couture-Rouleau, a convert to Islam, deliberately drove into two Canadian Forces soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, killing one before he was shot dead after a police chase.

Were the attacks random “lone-wolf” domestic terror attacks, or is there a domestic Islamist terrorist phenomenon today in Canada and other Western nations?

According to Canadian intelligence data from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), more than 130 Canadian citizens have left the country to join terror organizations in other countries, including the Islamic State (also known as the Caliphate, ISIL, ISIS, or IS) in Iraq and Syria, and about 80 of these individuals have returned to Canada. The long list of Canadian terrorists indicates the seriousness of the country’s domestic terror threat, which is fed by the trend of Islamic radicalization and by the role of the Islamic State as a source of authority and inspiration for many Canadian Muslims.

Over the past decade Canada has been a target of Islamic terror. In 2006, a terror group was revealed that planned to carry out mass-casualty attacks in Toronto and Ottawa, including invading the Parliament building with the aim of murdering and beheading Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In 2013, two other terror groups were thwarted: one, inspired by Al-Qaeda, planned to blow up a passenger train on the Niagara Bridge on its way to the United States, while the other was preparing to blow up the provincial parliament building in Victoria, British Columbia.

Recently the caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, conveyed—via the Caliphate’s spokesman—detailed instructions for Muslims in Canada and other countries that are part of the anti-Islamic State military coalition to act immediately and in any fashion possible to kill “nonbelievers.”  An ISIS propaganda video recently “suggested running people over with cars,” CBC reported.1

Canadian jihadists in the Islamic State’s ranks used the social networks to urge Canadian Muslims to respond to the caliph’s call.

Probably not coincidentally, six Canadian CF-18 fighter jets flew to Kuwait this week to participate in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.  And Prime Minister Stephen Harper was expected to introduce new antiterrorism legislation on Wednesday.

The choice of Canada as a terror target is part of the overall strategy of the Islamic State and the other radical Islamic organizations to weaken the West, dissuade it from a military campaign against radical Islam, and remove all Western presence from the Middle East and Muslim countries. The goal is to expand the Caliphate’s borders so as to enable an anti-Western jihad campaign that will bring about global Islamization. The success of the terror attacks in Canada will likely encourage terror groups in the United States, which is Islamic State’s supreme target, to carry out domestic attacks.

Analysis of the characteristics of the Canadian terrorists in recent years underlines the challenge facing Canada and other democratic countries, particularly regarding the issues of domestic terror and immigration, including from the Muslim and multicultural countries.

The Government of Canada Responds

Following the two murderous terrorist attack in two days carried out by Canadian who converted to Islam, Prime Minister, Stephen Harper2, paid tribute (October 22, 2014) to the two slain soldiers emphasizing that “this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

Harper added, “On our values, on our society, on us, Canadians, as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all… this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats, and keep Canada safe here at home.”

“Just as it will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to work with our allies around the world and fight against the terrorist organizations who brutalize those in other countries with the hope of bringing their savagery to our shores.”

Terror Attacks Committed by Canadians who Converted to Islam

2 committed terrorist attacks in Canada (Quebec, Ottawa)

2 planned to commit terrorist attack in Canada (Victoria, BC)

1 carried out a suicide bombing attack (Algeria)

1 would be suicide bomber

6 joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq

1 was killed in Dagestan after joining a local jihadist organization.

The following is a list of Canadians reported in recent years as terrorists or suspected of involvement in terrorism:

October 2014 – Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, Canadian-born and a convert to Islam, shot dead a soldier and was killed after opening fire inside the Parliament in Ottawa.

October 2014 – Martin Ahmad Couture-Rouleau, a convert to Islam, deliberately drove into two Canadian Forces soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, killing a soldier before he was shot dead after a police chase.  Couture-Rouleau waited at least two hours in a parking lot before driving his car into the two.3 After the attack, he called 911 to claim responsibility.4

October 2014 – Three Toronto girls of Somali descent aged 15-18 left Canada to Turkey in an attempted to join ISIS and get married to mujahideen. The three were arrested by Turkish authorities and returned to Canada.

September 2014 – Abu Khalid al-Kanadi – a convert to Islam joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

September 2014 – Mohammed Ali, 23, a Mississauga resident, known by his alias Abu Turaab, left Canada and joined the ranks of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria.

September 2014 – Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, Hamilton, Ontario resident of Somali descent and a biology student at York University, left Canada to join the Islamic State (ISIS) and was reportedly killed in Syria while fighting in the ranks of ISIS.

September 2014 – Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh of Kurdish descent was sentenced to a 24-year prison term after being convicted of an attempt to organize a functioning terrorist cell in 2010. In 2009 Alizadeh travelled to Iran and Afghanistan for two months of training by an “expert bomb maker” known as Westa Omar, who was involved in the preparation of IEDs to use against coalition forces from Canada, the United States and other nations. After returning to Canada with his smuggled 56 circuit boards and how-to guides, he stayed in email contact with a man known as Mansoor Al Baloosh who facilitated the travel of foreigners to Pakistan and Afghanistan for terrorist training. He also kept in touch with Kurdish insurgents loosely aligned with the Taliban, and with his brother, Rizgar, described as a member of a terrorist group in Iran.

August 2014 – Collin and Gregory Gordon, brothers and converts to Islam from Calgary,  left Canada and joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

August 2014 – John (Yahya) Maguire, an Ottawa student and convert to Islam, left Canada and joined ISIS.

August 2014 – Former London, Ont., pathologist, Khurram Sher, charged in 2010 with conspiring to facilitate terrorist activity in 2010, was found not guilty in an al-Qaeda-linked terror trial. However, the judge said the evidence showed Sher was sympathetic to jihad.

August 2014 – Sayfildin Tahir-Sharif, 41, resident of Edmonton, faces extradition to US after his appeal was denied in an Alberta court. Tahir-Sharif is suspected of a conspiracy to commit murder after five America soldiers were killed in a 2009 suicide bombing in Iraq. He is also accused of facilitating a terrorist network. The U.S. alleges Tahir-Sharif was a member of a terrorist network operating in Iraq, Libya, Tunisia and Syria, whose members recruited jihadists in Tunisia and transported them into Iraq to attack U.S. and coalition forces. Security officials in the U.S. said the network was responsible for two suicide bombings – one at a U.S. military base.

July 2014 – Former Ottawa hospital technician,  Misbahuddin Ahmed was found guilty of two terrorism-related charges including conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist act and participation in the activities of a terrorist group.

July 2014 – Toronto security guard, Mohamed Hersi, was sentenced to 10 years for attempting in 2010 to leave Canada to join the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab.

July 2014 – RCMP launched an investigation in the case of Ahmad Waseem (a.k.a Muthanna al-Kanadi) from Windsor, Ontario who returned from Syria wounded after fighting in the ranks of jihadist groups during 2013. Waseem went back to Syria where he broadcasts calls for launching terrorist attacks in Canada.

July 2014 – Hasibullah Yusufzai, 25, from Burnaby, British Columbia, is accused of leaving Canada to join with Syrian jihadists, and committing an offence for the benefit of a terrorist group or was directed by or associated with such a group.

July 2014 – Former Ottawa hospital technician Misbahuddin Ahmed has been found guilty of conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity and for participation in the activities of a terrorist group.

June 2014 – Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Calgarian in his early 20s, joined the ranks of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in Syria and was reported dead in mid-August. Three more Canadians (one from Montreal, other from Ontario), known only by their nom de guerre, are reported fighting with ISIS and its affiliates in Syria and Iraq.

May 2014 – Canadian Lebanese Fawzi Ayoub, 48, senior member of Hizballah, was killed in battle against the rebels in Syria.

May 2014 – The security forces in Cairo international airport reportedly arrested an unidentified Canadian national suspect of planning “hostile acts” in Egypt. In his possession were “military items,” including several bullet-proof vests, camouflage T-shirts and shoes.

May 2014 – Egyptian security forces arrested Canadian Solar Energy Engineer, Yusri Maurice Tawadros, 65, on his way to Cairo via a desert road. According to media reports,  security forces seized 3 handguns, a sword and bottles of wine in his possession.

May 2014 – Suliman M., a 15-year-old Canadian and a student at Azhari Sheikh Zayed Institute for Boys middle school in Giza, was arrested in Egypt for allegedly being a member of a “terrorist cell.” Egyptian authorities alleged that the teenager was part of a group linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood that set police stations and vehicles on fire in 6th of October City, an urban area of Cairo, Egypt. They also alleged the youth and his group funded protests that incited violence against the Egyptian army and police forces.

April 2014 – The Syrian army reported (April 8, 2014) that military forces operating in the southern rural area of the district of Idlib managed to kill several insurgents, including the Canadian national Mahmoud Ahmed Abdou.

January 2014 – Damian Clairmont (a.k.a. Mustafa Gharib and Abu Talha al-Canadi), resident of Calgary, who converted to Islam and joined the émigré brigade in Syria affiliated with al-Qaida, was reportedly executed by the Free Syrian Army.

November 2013 – Salman Ashrafi (Abu Abdullah Al Khorasani), Calgary resident, who joined the ranks of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), carried out a suicide bombing attack in Iraq killing dozens.

October 2013 – Two Libyan students/ graduates of Canadian universities, Jamal al-Ratimi (Tripoli) and Samir al-Triki (Misrata) joined the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and were reported killed in action.

September 2013 – Omar Shafik Hammami (Abu Mansoor al-Amriki), a U.S. citizen, resided several years in Canada and married a Canadian woman (later divorced). He joined al-Shabab in Somalia, affiliated with al-Qaida. Hammami was murdered in an internal power struggle.

September 2013 – Ali Muhammad Dirie, Toronto resident of Somali descent, joined Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria affiliated with al-Qaida and was killed in action. He was convicted of involvement in a Toronto terrorist plot in 2006 and served a long prison term.

August 2013 – Andre Poulin, resident of Timmis, Ontario, who converted to Islam and joined the ranks of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), was killed in action during the attack on the Ming military airport in Aleppo.

July 2013 – John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody, a couple from Surrey in British Columbia, converted to Islam, and were arrested on suspicion of planning to bomb the parliament building in Victoria.

July 2013 – An unidentified individual, possibly a Canadian resident, was filmed with a weapon in Homs, Syria, while fighting with rebel forces.

May 2013 –An unidentified individual, presumably a Canadian resident, was killed by the Syrian Army while planning to carry out a terrorist attack on behalf of group identified with al-Qaida. The two other foreigners who were also killed in the same attack were the American, Nicole Lynn Mansfield (a convert to Islam) and British citizen Ali al Manasfi.

April 2013 – Chihab Esseghaier, resident of Montreal of Tunisian descent, and Raed Jaser, resident of Markham, born in Kuwait of Palestinian descent, were arrested on suspicion of planning to blow up a VIA train on the Niagara bridge on its way to the U.S.  Ahmed Abbasi, a Tunisian citizen, resided in Canada between 2010-2012, was arrested in U.S. on suspicion of involvement in plans to blow up the train.

April 2013 – Mahad Ali Dhore, 25 year old Canadian of Somali descent and a student at York University, joined al-Shabab group, affiliated with al-Qaida, was killed in a terrorist attack in Somalia.

February 2013 – Jamal Muhammad Abdulkader, a student from Montreal, member of a Kurdish family from north Syria, joined Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated with al-Qaida. He was killed while driving a booby-trapped attack in central Damascus.

January 2013 – Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas (a convert to Islam), residents of London, Ontario, joined al-Qaida, and were killed while committing a suicide attack, after participating in the murder of dozens of civilians in an attack on an Algerian gas plant. Muhajid ‘Ryan’ Enderi, an additional member of this group from London, Ontario traveled with them abroad and has since disappeared.

December 2012 – Aaron Yoon, resident of London, Ontario, converted to Islam and allegedly established ties to groups affiliated with al-Qaida. He was arrested in Mauritania on charges of ties to terrorist groups and later released and returned to Canada.

November 2012 – Hussam Samir al-Hams, a Canadian of Palestinian descent, enlisted with Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades. Hams was killed during operation ‘Pillar of Fire’ in the Gaza Strip.

July 2012 – Hassan El Hajj Hassan, holding dual nationality, Canadian and Lebanese, and Hizballah activist, was a member of the terrorist cell that bombed an Israeli tourist bus in Bulgaria.

July 2012 – William Plotnikov, a 23 year old Canadian of Russian descent converted to Islam and joined a terrorist group in Dagestan. Plotnikov was killed in a gun battle with Russian security forces.

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