Religious extremism has become the top motive for Canadian terrorism, replacing environmentalism, according to an academic study prepared for Public Safety Canada.
While environmentalist causes were the main driver of Canadian terrorist incidents in the 1990s and 2000s, religious motives have taken over the lead since 2010, the study found.
Between 2010 and 2015, 29 per cent of terrorist incidents were religiously motivated while 7 per cent were categorized as “anarchist,” and 3 per cent were “supremacist.” The motives for 61% were unknown.
All “religious” terrorism dating back to 2001 was “motivated by jihadist beliefs,” said the March 2016 study, obtained by the National Post under the Access to Information Act.
The Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society conducted the study for the government for officials preparing the 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada.
“Since their emergence in the 1980s, environmentalist-motivated incidents have been slowly increasing as a proportion of overall terrorist activity,” said the study.
“This trend shifted, however, in 2010-2015, when religious attacks emerged as the most prominent type of terrorism, along with pockets of anarchist and supremacist activity.”
The 2010 Ottawa plot to conduct bombings for al-Qaida, the 2013 plot to attack a Toronto-bound passenger train and the 2014 killings of Canadian Forces members by ISIL-inspired terrorists all occurred during that time frame.
But the study’s principal investigator, Prof. Daniel Hiebert of the University of B.C.’s Department of Geography, wrote that the results should be treated with caution due to the high proportion of cases where no motive was identified.
“Rather than reflecting broader motivational trends, these distributions may reflect a tendency for some groups to advertise their motives more explicitly than others, or certain groups to have better success at evading detection following incidents.”
The study, an analysis of a terrorism and extremism incident database launched last year by academic researchers, examined trends going back to 1960 and touched on everything from the Animal Liberation Front’s release of 7,000 minks from Ontario farms to vandalism at two Ontario mosques following the 2015 ISIL attacks in Paris.
Prof. Hiebert separated acts of terrorism from those categorized as violent extremism, including hate crimes. Since 2001 there have been eight deaths in incidents of “extremism”: the 2014 killings of three RCMP officers in Moncton by a gunman with anti-government views; and five armed assaults “motivated by supremacist views.”
There were 49 supremacist incidents between 2001 and 2015, about 41 per cent of them in Alberta and 27 per cent in Ontario, said the study, which ranked supremacism as Canada’s greatest “extremist threat.”
The study said that overseas terrorist attacks by Canadians were an emerging trend, especially since 2013. Most were by terrorists “affiliated with jihadist-motivated organizations,” it said.
Unlike in the 1960s and 70s, when Canada went through sustained campaigns by the Sons of Freedom and Front de libération du Québec, recent terrorism has been less coordinated, the study found.
“No organizations of the same scale have been active in Canada’s recent history. Rather, incidents in Canada represent groups of individuals who come together for a single attack, or individuals who share a common ideology.”
But in a separate report that was also submitted to Public Safety officials preparing the 2016 threat report, the federal government’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre singled out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The de-classified document said that in Canada, Australia, the United States and Western Europe, “the greatest threat comes from individuals inspired and directed by ISIL.”
In particular, ITAC warned about the dangers posed by Canadian extremists who want to travel abroad to join terrorist groups but have been prevented from doing so.
“As Canada and other countries around the world take action to address the activities of terrorist travellers, individuals who are unable to travel to conflict areas could feel a heightened motivation to carry out an attack in their country of origin, including Canada,” it said.
Six months after ITAC submitted the report to Public Safety, ISIL supporter Aaron Driver, who was subject to a peace bond that prevented him from travelling, was killed by police as he was leaving his home in Strathroy, Ont. to conduct a bombing he called a response to ISIL’s call for “jihad in the lands of the crusaders.”
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Monday, October 31, 2016