Ideologically Motivated Violent Extremism and Terrorist Listings
Date: March 10, 2021
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
The threat of ideologically motived violent extremism (IMVE) in Canada continues to grow, requiring a concerted Government of Canada response.
- The Government of Canada remains deeply concerned about the rise of ideologically-motivated violent extremism, or IMVE, which includes a variety of extremist beliefs from across the traditional left-right ideological spectrum, such as anti-authority, xenophobic, gender-driven, and other types of violent extremist views.
- Ideologically motivated violent extremists have leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic to push their narratives of division and distrust, through conspiracy theories and hateful propaganda and rhetoric, both online and offline in order to recruit and inspire individuals to carry out acts of vandalism, violence and/or sedition.
- Public Safety Canada and its portfolio agencies, including the RCMP and CSIS, continue to closely monitor the evolving threat posed by IMV extremists and can employ a variety of national security tools currently at our disposal where appropriate.
- This includes investigations that may support criminal charges, as well as other tools including peace bonds, no-fly listings, the revocation of passports, and terrorist listings.
- With respect to listings, Canada has already listed six IMVE groups – Blood & Honour, Combat 18, Atomwaffen Division, The Base, Proud Boys, and Russian Imperial Movement – as terrorist entities.
- The process to add entities to the list is a factual one, based on evidence, intelligence and the law. The Criminal Code is very explicit in the criteria that must be met when listing an entity. In order to be listed there must be reasonable grounds to believe that an entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity, or has knowingly acted on behalf of, at the direction of, or in association with such an entity.
- Being listed as a terrorist entity carries significant consequences and provides law enforcement with an investigative and enforcement tool that could trigger criminal scrutiny and potential criminal charges.
- We also recognize that addressing violent extremism is not just an enforcement issue, but one of prevention as well. This is why Public Safety’s Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence continues to provide national leadership on Canada’s effort to counter radicalization to violence
Over the past five years, there has been a significant increase in attacks inspired by IMVE worldwide. During this period, notable incidents in Canada involving IMV extremists include attacks perpetrated by the 2014 Moncton shooter (Justin Bourque), 2017 Quebec mosque shooter (Alexandre Bissonette), and 2018 Toronto van attacker (Alek Minassian). A study conducted by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that there are at least 6,600 IMVE channels online with some form of Canadian involvement, making Canadians among the most active in online IMVE movements. Recently, Canadian anti-racism and civil liberties organizations have called on the Government to establish a plan to dismantle IMVE organizations, particularly those harbouring extreme xenophobic views such as white supremacists.
The Criminal Code terrorist listings regime helps prevent the use of Canada’s financial system from furthering terrorist activity, and can assist in the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. Listing an entity carries significant consequences. Banks and financial institutions must freeze the assets of a listed terrorist entity and all persons in Canada, as well as Canadians abroad, are prohibited from knowingly dealing with such assets. Once listed, certain criminal offences related to terrorist financing, terrorist related travel and terrorist recruitment may then apply. This strengthens law enforcement’s ability to take action against domestic members and supporters of listed terrorist entities. A listing can also lead to the de-registration of a charity or the refusal to register an organization as a charity, if there is an affiliation with a listed entity.
The recommendation to list an entity is based on a security or criminal intelligence report prepared by either the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or Public Safety Canada, or a criminal intelligence report prepared by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). There are several safeguards built into the regime to ensure that the Criminal Code listing process is balanced and fair.
There are currently 73 terrorist entities listed pursuant to the Criminal Code. In 2019, the Government of Canada, for the first time, added two IMVE groups to the list, Combat 18 and Blood and Honour. On February 3, 2021, the Government placed 13 new groups on the list, including four IMVE groups: the Proud Boys, Atomwaffen Division, the Base and Russian Imperial Movement. Atomwaffen Division, the Base and the Proud Boys advocate for violent action against racial, religious and ethnic groups, and the state. Atomwaffen Division and the Base have provided their members with weapons training. The Russian Imperial Movement also provides paramilitary training and is known to have provided this to two individuals, who in 2016 and 2017, carried out a series of bombings that included targeting refugees in Sweden.
Canada continues to utilize existing national security tools to combat violent extremism, including criminal investigations, with a view to supporting criminal charges where appropriate. A recent court case that is still in progress has seen the man who allegedly perpetrated the Toronto Massage Parlor attack being charged with terrorism offenses under the Criminal Code because of his connection to the involuntary celibate (incel) movement. This was the first terrorism charge laid against an IMV extremist in Canada and the world’s first terrorism charge given to an incel.
Where criminal charges cannot be laid, the Government has a number of other policies and programs available to respond to the IMVE threat, including:
- Investigations by CSIS including on terrorist threats to Canada or affecting Canadian citizens abroad. CSIS may also take measures to reduce threats, within defined legal parameters.
- In instances where an IMVE threat meets the national security threshold as laid out in s. 2(c) of the CSIS Act, RCMP Federal Policing becomes the police force of jurisdiction and will investigate national security-related criminal offenses.
- Countering radicalization to violence (CRV) efforts, namely those undertaken by the RCMP with regard to standard community outreach activities and those by Public Safety Canada’s Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence (Canada Centre). The Canada Centre provides grants and contributions for programs and research on CRV, including through funding the Institute for Strategic Dialogue study of online IMVE in Canada. This work is part of a broader environmental scan of the beliefs, motivations, and activities of IMVE groups led by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The Canada Centre also funds research on the incel movement by Moonshot CVE, which will produce resources to inform frontline practitioners.
Prepared by: NSPD/[Redacted], NSOD/[Redacted]
Approved by: Dominic Rochon, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, NCSB 613-990-4976
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