According to a report released today by QMI Agency and widely reported in the Canadian press, The Muslim Association of Canada (based in Mississauga, Ontario), which operates at least 20 Islamic schools and 15 mosques in Ontario, Alberta and Quebec stands accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars ($296,514 between 2001 and 2010, according to the Canada Revenue Agency) to IRFAN (The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy).
In April 2014, Public Safety Canada (a department of the Federal Government overseeing National Security), added IRFAN-Canada to its “Currently Listed Entities” list with the following note: “The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy-Canada (IRFAN-Canada) is a not for profit organization operating in Canada. Between 2005 and 2009, IRFAN-Canada transferred approximately $14.6 million worth of resources to various organizations with links to Hamas.”
The RCMP obtained a search warrant and conducted a raid on IRFAN’s Mississauga head office in April, 2014, in order to conduct investigations into the links between MAC and IRFAN. The warrant led to a raid on IRFAN’s Mississauga headquarters and a Montreal apartment on April 28, 2014. Documents and computer files were seized included videos demonizing Israel.
On January 25, 2015, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, made the following remarks upon the announcement of stricter terror legislation: “Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility, it is a present reality. Violent Jihadism is not simply a danger somewhere else. It seeks to harm us here.”
As Canadians, we have enjoyed a relatively peaceful co-existence between ethnic groups, religious groups, and even political groups for over 100 years. We expound our virtues. We openly boast about our respect for the rights of free speech, freedom of association, religion.
We take pride in our ability to live side-by-side with groups who are historically at odds in other places in the world.
Times have changed. Waves of terrorism are lapping at our shores.
I am not painting over our history with a white brush. We have not had a pristine, terror-attack free existence. As far back as 1868, an alleged Irish nationalist assassinated Thomas D’Arcy McGee in Ottawa.
There were attacks at Cuban consulates and trade missions in the ‘60s and 70s.
Direct associations were made to the Sikh community following the downing of Air India flight 182 that blew up over Scotland in 1985.
Domestic terrorism has also always been a part of the landscape whether related to Aboriginal rights, the environment, and the seemingly never-ending issue of Quebec nationalism.
But, the Islamist threat did not come to the forefront until 1999, when Ahmed Ressam (an Algerian member of Al-Queda) was arrested upon entering the United States by ferry from Victoria, British Columbia. He was smuggling explosives in his car from Canada as part of a plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on New Year’s Eve 1999.
In 2006, Canadian authorities arrested 18 terrorists (dubbed the “Toronto 18”) inspired by al-Qaeda. They were accused of planning to detonate truck bombs, to open fire in a crowded area, and to storm the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, the Canadian Parliament building, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquarters, and the parliamentary Peace Tower, to take hostages and to behead the Prime Minister and other leaders.
Most recently, and certainly the most widely reported incidents include the October 20, 2014 vehicular attack on two Canadian Forces members, rammed by a vehicle driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a recent Muslim convert. Warrant officer Patrice Vincent later died of his injuries. Couture-Rouleau was later gunned down and killed.
Two days later, on October 22, 2014, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32 year old drug addict and self-convert to Islam, who was known to Canadian authorities, shot and killed Cpl. Nathan Cirillo while the 24 year old stood guard at the War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario.
So, the questions remain. How do we deal with isolated “lone wolf’ attacks in a country that doesn’t have its ‘ears pricked’ to be as aware and observant as those in countries where these attacks are a more common occurrence? Are we sitting ducks – the easiest targets? Does stricter legislation really make any of us safer? Is the RCMP investigation into a seemingly harmless religious/educational organization funneling money to a group whose sole purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel just the tip of the iceberg?