Canada and Terrorism

It’s never a good idea to assume that one’s opponents are all stupid. To wit, some neoconservatives are sophisticated enough to find a few trivial examples that supposedly invalidate the notion that Islamist terrorism is the result of Western racism in general and European racism in particular.

One prime example is Canada. Since Canada is supposedly the country where there is no discrimination against Muslims, it’s supposed to mean that terrorism doesn’t come from racism. A good example of this is the Anti-Defamation League’s quote-mining hatchet job, which among other things quoted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as saying, “With the possible exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist organizations active in Canada than anywhere in the world.”

You can read the report this comes from here and see what I mean when I say “quote-mining hatchet job.” The two paragraphs preceding that sentence are,

Certainly, there are historical reasons why Canada has not been as vulnerable as other countries. We are not a superpower, we are generally seen as a moderate country, and our political system has done better than most to absorb and accommodate difference. In addition, the intelligence, law enforcement and security communities work in close cooperation, which makes it more difficult for terrorists to operate in this country.

Our borders are long and unique among developed countries – we have a common border with the United States, one of the world’s pre-eminent terrorist targets. Our openness and respect for human rights and freedoms make Canada an attractive place to live and do business, not just for the hundreds of thousands of legitimate immigrants who come here each year, but also for members of terrorist and criminal organizations. While the vast majority of immigrants and refugees have no greater priority than to be productive members of a peaceful and prosperous society, others slip through and are bent on using Canada as a base from which to support terrorist activities.

So despite what the Anti-Defamation League is trying to say, Canadian liberalism only mitigates Islamic terrorism, which in Canada is more about anti-American spillover than about hating freedom or whatever excuse neoconservatives come up with.
It’s significant to note that all examples of Islamic terrorist activity in Canada given in that report is from the 1990s. While the CSIS report notes that Islamist terrorism is the biggest terrorist problem in Canada, the groups it talks about have been waning for years. Hezbollah has been shifting from an international terrorist organization to an extremist political party with a small military wing for more than a decade; Hamas has seen a similar shift in the last two years; Al Qaida is effectively dead.

Islamist terrorism really proceeds from three causes: racism, anti-Americanism, and domestic conflicts; of these, only racism is relevant in a Western context. Racism breeds radicalization, especially when it involves systematic exclusion from society, for example in the form of unemployment. This radicalization tends to spill over even to people who are fairly well-off via the formation of identity politics – for example, third-world nationalist leaders tended to come from middle- or upper middle class backgrounds, and to curry the colonialist regime’s favor.

Anti-Americanism is what breeds Al Qaida, but that organization is increasingly irrelevant. Islamist terrorism is decidedly local; marginalized Muslims in Britain and France and the Netherlands might come to anti-Americanism, but only after being radicalized. In particular, there’s no evidence that any of the terrorist attacks Europe has had in the last three and a half years was the result of the Iraq War, which certainly caused an upsurge of anti-Americanism.

Domestic politics is the most dangerous form of Islamist terrorism, and also the least solvable. That’s what happens in crisis areas in the Middle East, especially but not only Iraq. Islamists hate leaders who are Muslims of convenience (before 2003, Saddam was their most hated figure); and, like all other extremists, they thrive on war, hence their proliferation in Iraq.

Incidentally, all of these exist to varying degrees in the West. The American militia movement is a prime example of ideological terrorism motivated by domestic politics (here, “ideological terrorism” should contrast with “nationalist terrorism” as practices by the LTTE, IRA, and Hamas). If it’s weaker than Jihadism, it’s because first-world countries tend to be better than third-world countries at both enforcing anti-terrorism laws and having socioeconomic systems that don’t breed radicalism.

In particular, Islamist terrorism in the West isn’t the result of excessive liberalism. If it were, Canada would be swarming with terrorism and so would the US, Britain would have much less terrorism, and Continental Europe would be almost entirely terrorism-free (when it comes to views of immigrants, this is indeed how liberal these countries are; I’m not talking about national views of, say, gay rights).

The best example of recent domestic Islamist terrorism in Canada that hawks can come up with is an arrest of 16 people that I can’t find documentation for on Google. In that light, it’s not difficult to see that in reality, the rank order of domestic Islamist terrorism problems in the West is almost the exact reverse of what it would be if liberalism toward immigrants were the culprit.

8 Responses to Canada and Terrorism

  1. Joe says:

    The 16 people who were arrested in Canada on terrorism related charges were arrested for trying to purchase a few tonnes of fertilizer. I believe it was a police sting operation.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Toronto_terrorism_case

  2. Michelle K. says:

    YOU SAID:
    The best example of recent domestic Islamist terrorism in Canada that hawks can come up with is an arrest of 16 people that I can’t find documentation for on Google.

    ——–
    What on earth did you google under?

    Try: Canadian Terrorists June as a search term…
    Results 1 – 10 of about 13,000,000

    How bout this:
    1.) 2006 Toronto terrorism case – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Toronto_terrorism_case

    Two arrested in England with possible connections to Canadian bomb plot … Canadian Police Arrest 17 Suspected Terrorists, Voice of America, June 3, 2006 …
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Toronto_terrorism_case – 52k – Oct 1, 2006 – Cached – Similar pages

    OR:

    http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=de3f8e90-982a-47af-8e5e-a1366fd5d6cc&k=46849
    (Sorry if the link above doesn’t work. If you can’t use the link just copy and past the title right below this and put it into Google as a search term… If that doesn’t come up I’m sure several THOUSAND more will…

    Alleged Canadian terror plot has worldwide links

    By Stewart Bell and Kelly Patrick, CanWest News Service
    Published: Sunday, June 04, 2006

    TORONTO – A Canadian counter-terrorism investigation that led to the arrests of 17 people accused of plotting bombings in Ontario is linked to probes in a half-dozen countries, the National Post has learned.

    Well before police tactical teams began their sweeps around Toronto on Friday, at least 18 related arrests had already taken place in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh.

    The six-month RCMP investigation, called Project OSage, is one of several overlapping probes that include an FBI case called Operation Northern Exposure and a British probe known as Operation Mazhar.

    At a news conference Saturday, the RCMP announced terrorism-related charges had been laid against a dozen Toronto-area men and five teens under the age of 18.

    The group “took steps to acquire components necessary to create explosive devices” including three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, commonly used in terrorist bombs, police said. [Cont’d]

    ———————————————————
    This was a HUGE story, where were you? I suggest taking a little more time before you claim not to be able to find something that half the world knows about…

  3. Alon Levy says:

    And I suggest taking a little more time before you talk about something that the comment before yours effectively refutes.

  4. Michelle K. says:

    How does the post above mine refute my comments? Refute means to prove something invalid or false. The two comments besides yours point to the exact same page on Wikipedia about the Toronto Terrorist group, and mine also lists a newspaper article detailing the events.

    By the way, I read this post on the front page of your blog where other’s comments are not visible. I then hit the comment button and commented… If I had seen someone had already pointed out your faux paus I perhaps wouldn’t have bothered commenting, but alas that did not happen…

    I perhaps shouldn’t have made such a snide remark – that I will concede, and I am sorry for that, it was rude of me.

  5. Alon Levy says:

    The two comments besides yours point to the exact same page on Wikipedia about the Toronto Terrorist group, and mine also lists a newspaper article detailing the events.

    That’s right; the Wikipedia article makes it clear that the entire charges are yet unproven, and the only evidence of wrongdoing comes from a sting operation. These sting operations don’t reveal much, except that the government’s adept at foiling its own terrorist attacks (I’m reminded of an episode that I remember happened a few years ago, in which the FBI convinced someone to commit a terrorist attack and then arrested him).

    And besides, 17 arrests is a far cry from large-scale riots in the French suburbs, large terror networks in Britain, and the murders in Holland. It’s not that there’s no discrimination against Muslims in Canada; it’s just that there’s so much less than in Europe.

  6. kian says:

    One prime example is Canada. Since Canada is supposedly the country where there is no discrimination against Muslims, it’s supposed to mean that terrorism doesn’t come from racism

    Where do you get the notion that canada is ‘supposedly’ the country where there is no discrimination against Muslims? … That’s complete bs, and the people I know here wouldn’t believe that for a second or come even close to agreeing with you.
    There is so much racism in Canada. …Espeically towards Muslims and Natives. (Not so much the chinese or japanese folks though.) If you’re visibly a musilim and you get into Montreal, anywhere on the east coast or Windsor you’ll be lucky if you only get called one name, or get one thing thrown at you. It pisses me off that Canada is precieved as such a nice and decent country, when it’s really not.

    After 9/11the muslim kids at my highschool couldn’t even walk down a hall way without getting slanderous remarks.

    Anti-Americanism is what breeds Al Qaida
    Then there should be a huge ass breed of Al Qaida coming out of Canada aaaany time now.

    As for the 16 arrests that happened here, my friend Fahad was a close, personal friend of 3 of the people under 18 that were arrested. it was a tough thing in our area… considering we knew so many of the men. … this is a good article relating to it, i think:

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13575.htm

    it was pretty huge in canada for while (the article)

  7. Alon Levy says:

    Where do you get the notion that canada is ’supposedly’ the country where there is no discrimination against Muslims?

    From conservatives who are sure that Canada has terrorism but no discrimination against Muslims, and therefore refutes the fact that terrorism is caused by racism.

  8. Deep Thought says:

    Alon,
    Please point me to one or more of these ‘conservatives whoare sure Canada has terrorism but no discrimination against Muslims…’, please

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