Monday 3 November 2014

Anti-terror laws must be fair and just

Terrorism is the use of violence or threats of violence by individuals or groups against civilians or property. Terrorists seek to create terror as a way of achieving political ends. Terrorist activities include assassinations, bombings, hijackings, and kidnappings. Some terrorists use terror against their own people. Most describe themselves as fighters for freedom and against injustice. In actual fact, terrorists are people who are attempting to overthrow legitimate governments so that they can take over the countries for themselves. They have no qualms about killing children and babies on their way to further their aims.

An internationally accepted definition of terrorism still eludes us. State definitions, as we have seen in the past, have tended to be self-serving, and adaptable for particular circumstances. Subsequently, state and regional definitions can sometimes be at odds with each other. For example, the United States’ Federal Regulations defines terrorism as: “the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives"1 This definition includes three elements: 1) Terrorist activities are illegal and involve the use of force. 2) The actions are intended to intimidate or coerce. 3) The actions are committed in support of political or social objectives.

In 1985, while addressing a United Nations crime conference in Milan, Italy, I suggested that we had to be firm when dealing with captured terrorists. I said that if those who are captured are found guilty of murder, the supreme court of the land should go over the transcripts of the trials to make sure that the trials were fair and if they were; the terrorists should be executed within a week and their ashes placed in metal containers and dumped far out to sea. I said that terrorists who haven’t killed anyone but furthers the aims of terrorism should be imprisoned for life. The government of Italy was so impressed with my speech; they ordered it to be broadcasted on TV all over Italy that night.

If justice was always just and fair, my suggestions would be valid but alas, justice is full of mistakes both in the law and with those who operate under it. 


For example, the federal government of Canada has launched a sweeping review of a crumbling anti-terrorist law, slammed by critics as unfair and excessive. The review of the rickety national-security certificate system could scrap or revamp a law used to arrest and deport non-Canadians considered a threat to national security.
Security certificates in Canada have existed for three decades, and more than two dozen such certificates have been issued since 1991, when they became part of federal immigration law. But legal challenges and criticisms from judges over miscues by Canada's spy agency have seen cases slow to a crawl or collapse. The government has initiated only six certificate cases – four terror suspects, a hatemonger and an alleged Russian spy – since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. But for critics, the deportation tool has come to symbolize the worst excesses of the fight against Islamic extremism. The process is unfair as detainees are not given full details of allegations against them.
A case involving Montrealer, Adil Charkaoui, a native of Morocco, fell apart when the government withdrew supporting evidence, saying its disclosure would reveal sensitive intelligence sources and methods of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. If that was the case, then why was he kept in custody for so long a period of time? Mahmoud Jaballah of Egypt was first held under a security certificate in 1999 that was quashed. He was detained again in 2001. Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub, also Egyptian, was arrested in 2000, while Hassan Almrei of Syria was detained one month after Sept. 11, 2001, and Mohamed Harkat of Algeria in 2002. The court ruled that their security certificates were also to be squashed and set free. The normal procedure would be to return them to their own countries. Where certificates failed in the cases of Manickavasagam Suresh, an alleged fundraiser for the Tamil Tigers and Palestinian Issam Al Yamani, the government was trying conventional means to deport the men since they too were at risk of being tortured if they were returned to their homelands. This is a dilemma for the Canadian government because each of these men said that they feared being tortured if forced back to their homeland. As a result, all five men had been granted permission to remain in Canada under strict supervision while waiting for the Federal Court of Appeal to deal with the issue.
If the government argued before a judge that certificates were a good means of detaining someone indefinitely, the whole scheme would be struck down as being unconstitutional. The courts are just not going to turn a blind eye to those who use of the immigration law as a sort of underhanded way to put persons in detention if the deportation prospect is removed from the table.
Critics say deportation is a poor way of tackling the threat of extremism; it merely punts the problem to another country.
In Toronto in early 2004, Kassim Mohamed, an Egyptian Fundamentalist Muslim was noticed videotaping in the subway, around the CN tower and at other landmarks. Although a Canadian resident, he had earlier sent his children back to Egypt, apparently because he disliked the secular qualities of Canada’s education system. When detained at the airport by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) officers when he was about to leave the country, he explained that he had taken the footage because his children were ‘homesick’ and missed Toronto. The CSIS officers made a copy of his tape and had a translator go over it while the Egyptian was en- route to Cairo, via Athens. At Canada’s urgent request, the Greeks detained him and returned him to Canada for questioning. After a couple of weeks of interviews by Canadian police and security officials, the Egyptian Fundamentalist was allowed to depart, but the inquiries evidently tipped off the Egyptian police that he was a subject of some scrutiny here, and he was jailed on arrival in Cairo. Evidently, he was abused while in Egyptian custody.

Meanwhile consider these questions that were in the minds of the Canadian authorities?   How homesick would a child have to be to find three minutes of footage of subway track engrossing? How enthralled would the little tykes be by the details of the fire exits from the CN tower? And just who was telling the cameraman (in Arabic) to point the camera down when somebody was looking? Filming public buildings in itself is not an offence—tourists are expected to do so, but the acts that rouse the suspicion of astute citizens or the police are those that are unusual and may be considered as part of terrorist planning because ordinary citizens don’t drive up to obscure office buildings and photograph every inch of the façade and they certainly don’t take minutes of footage of fire exits from public buildings.

There have been other filming incidents reported at some Ontario chemical plants and Jewish schools.  One day a visitor to Canada from an Islamic nation came through a Canadian airport with dismantled Casio digital watches (as endorsed by the time bomb-makers of the Provisional Wing of the IRA as far back as 1983). It was later noticed that another such visitor was filming the interior of the same airport with his brand-new pre-activated Canadian cell phone and transmitting the footage as he did so.

Canada’s new anti-terror laws and regulations are dangerously flawed, but in the current environment they are also necessary. Some of the new laws do make enormous sense—for example: it is illegal to make your own bio-toxins and nerve gases in the privacy of your own home. However, the ability to detain some suspected terrorists for years without a trial, are abusive and potentially dangerous to everyone. 

Tourists in London may have to think twice before snapping holiday pictures of the iconic British bobby. A new anti-terrorism law went into effect on February 16, 2009 that could effectively bar photographers from taking pictures of police or military personnel in Britain. Officials say the new laws are aimed at preventing terrorist groups from taking reconnaissance shots but photographers say they could be used to stop any pictures from being taken, especially images that depict police brutality or harassment.

Britain has come under fire in recent years for several measures that civil liberties groups say erode people's freedoms. In 2005, another law prohibited demonstrations around Parliament.

The new act makes it a crime to “elicit, publish or communicate information” about British police officers or military personnel. Britain’s Home Office said in a statement that the law is designed to protect police officers working on counter-terrorism operations.

It is legal in Britain to take photographs in any public space, but photographers complain they have been harassed by police while working near airports, government buildings or railroad lines under the Terrorism Act of 2000, which gives police the right to stop, search and question anyone taking photographs.

According to the law, photographers who refuse to stop taking pictures after being warned by police could face arrest, unspecified fines and even up to 10 years in prison.

Another of Ottawa's national security claims has proved to be bogus. For more than seven years, the federal government and its security bureaucrats insisted that alleged terrorist Hassan Almrei had threatened Canada to the extent that he had to be imprisoned without trial.
Even when Almrei was released later, he had to submit to an Orwellian form of house arrest.
Now, we find out that he was never a terrorist at all. More to the point, in quashing the security certificate that has kept the 35-year-old refugee in legal limbo for eight years, Federal Court Justice Richard Mosley ruled that the government's evidence against him was largely backed up by dubious newspaper clippings, sloppy history and unreliable evidence from informants who “had motives to concoct stories that cast Almrei in a negative light.”
Mosley's 183-page ruling should be required reading. It lays out in painstaking detail how easy it is for national security bureaucrats and their political masters to misuse the extraordinary powers given to them.
In this case, Mosley writes, the government's original suspicions of Almrei were justified. A self-admitted fraudster who dealt in false passports and who had spent time in the mujahedeen camps of Afghanistan, he was an obvious target of suspicion after 9/11. In that situation, writes Mosley, “Almrei's original detention in October 2001 was reasonable.” What was not reasonable, however, was the government's insistence on skewing the evidence to keep him in jail.
In a normal court case, where the accused and his lawyer can question the Crown's evidence, this might not have mattered.
But in security certificate cases, the government holds all the cards thereby presenting evidence in secret that the accused cannot see to refute.
Indeed, Almrei would probably still be in custody today had it not been for two Supreme Court decisions.
The first, in 2007, led to the appointment of so-called special advocates, security-cleared lawyers entitled to see secret evidence and challenge the government's claims.
The second, a year later, required agencies like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to give the court all relevant information—not just material that bolstered their case.
In Almrei's case, the judge says, this new information demonstrated major inconsistencies in the Crown's (prosecutor’s)  argument.
Mosley refers to one unnamed informant who he says was “highly motivated to curry favour with CSIS and who in 2001 provided “implausible evidence of Almrei's alleged links to terror mastermind Osama bin Laden.”
It seems that much of this surfaced only when special advocates Paul Copeland and Gordon Cameron cross-examined CSIS witnesses during closed hearings.
Exactly what went on in those secret sessions is unclear. But in the end, Mosley agreed that the government and its agencies engaged in a blatant abuse of process.
This is not the first time a security certificate has been dismissed as groundless.
In September, a Quebec judge did the same thing in the case of Adil Charkaoui, another alleged terror sleeper now known to be innocent.
One lesson from all of this is that the security certificate mechanism originally invented to detain and deport undesirable aliens no longer works.
But the more profound lesson, which has implications far beyond Almrei, is that when governments are given untrammeled powers in the name of national security, they will always abuse them if the officials think that they can get away with their abuses.
I am disappointed with CSIS because it was I who proposed the existence of the CSIS when I appeared before a royal commission dealing with the failure of the RCMP to deal with enemies of Canada.                    

Current Homegrown Terrorists

There are as many as 130 Canadians who are suspected of participating in terrorism and are in Syria or Iraq and /or have returned to Canada. There could be more that the authorities don’t know of as of yet. This not knowing who and where they are located is of great concern to the people in Canada and rightly so. It appears that for the most part, these people are Canadian Muslims who have become radicalized into believing that their goal in life is to be a militant Islamic jihadist and fight alongside the terrorists of the Islamic State of Syria and Al-Sham (ISIS). There are also Canadian non-Muslims who have become radicalized and have the same goals.

It is most unfortunate that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Canada’s federal police force simply doesn’t have the funds or the manpower to watch over all these homegrown terrorists 24 hours a day. Subsequently, these homegrown terrorists can suddenly unexpectantly attack citizens in Canada at any time and almost anywhere they wish.

One way that the RCMP can determine if a suspected wannabe terrorist is going beyond merely hoping to be an Islamic jihadist, is by reading his writings on the Internet. Once it appears via his writings that a suspect is seriously considering leaving Canada to fight with the terrorists in Syria and/or Iraq, the border officials can stop him by refusing to give him a passport or seizing it before he tries to leave Canada. The fact that these misguided people have chosen to fly to Turkey is a dead giveaway that they intend to cross into Syria and join the ISIS terrorists.  Further, if they had already left Canada and are now returning to Canada, then the border authorities can seize their passports thereby preventing them from ever leaving Canada again by air.  Of course, they could illegally cross the Canada/US border and obtain a false passport.

Unfortunately, with them having trained with the terrorists abroad and committed acts of terrorism abroad, these homegrown terrorists are a real danger to the people of Canada for one main reason. When they return to Canada, no-one knows when and where they will attack innocent citizens. As I said earlier, the police aren’t really watching them all 24 hours a day.

 Despite the fact that the authorities can’t watch the homegrown wannabe terrorists all the time, their conduct doesn’t escape their friends and families. For example, for more than a year, the friends of Martin Rouleau, the young entrepreneur in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec (age 25) had noticed that their friend was lost to the world of conspiracy theories, hatred and religious-fueled anger. This is stuff that breeds terrorism. I don’t know if any of his friends notified the authorities of their concerns about his behavior but in October, the 25-year-old who converted to Islam last year, purposely rammed his car into two soldiers in the Quebec town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and was soon after shot dead by police while attempting to escape.  One of two soldiers, 53-year-old Warrant Officer, Patrice Vincent later died from his injuries.

Martin Couture-Rouleau (age 25) who had a pressure-washing business in Quebec was known by the Canadian authorities and had been considered a threat to society. They began to paint a picture of a man who seemed to have embraced extremist ideas, and who, according to one friend, dreamed of dying as a martyr. WOW. Now there is a sign of a wannabe terrorist in the making. The RCMP had been monitoring this man, concerned that he had become radicalized. Just because he converted to Islam doesn’t mean that he became radicalized as a terrorist. But embracing extremist ideas dreaming of dying as a martyr is clear evidence of being radicalized. The word stems from the word, “radical” and his subsequent actions proved that he was a radical. RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson confirmed that Couture-Rouleau's passport had been seized and that he was one of the 90 suspected extremists who the RCMP believed intended to join militants fighting abroad.

When the police say that they were monitoring him, that doesn’t mean that they were watching his every move 24/7. It means they were continuing to investigate him. Unknown to the police, this man had the intentions to act as a lone wolf terrorist in Canada since he couldn’t do so in Syria or Iraq without his passport. He later drove his car into the two soldiers before he was himself killed after a police chase.

Both of these killers converted to Islam however converting to Islam by itself doesn’t make someone a terrorist any more than converting to Christianity makes them a terrorist. There has to be something else that breeds terrorism in the minds of homegrown wannabe terrorists.

There is one word that sticks out that in my opinion that best describes why they choose terrorism as their ultimate goal. The word is, LOSER. I didn’t choose that word sarcastically but rather literally.  Both of those two killers were losers. They were total failures in life.

Coutoure-Rouleau lived with his father in a St-Jean-sur-Richelieu white brick family home, where neighbours say they watched Couture-Rouleau change over the last year since his conversion to Islam. They say he grew a beard and stopped wearing jeans in favour of Islamic clothing. That by itself doesn’t mean that doing so makes someone a terrorist. If anything, it simply would make such a person a Muslim. 
Propaganda videos and other materials admiring jihad or “holy war” against enemies of Islam that were on his Facebook profile page, including a video featuring the logo for ISIS  is evidence that he supported terrorism. That is probably why he was being monitored by the RCMP and why his passport was seized.

On a separate Facebook page, under the name Ahmad Rouleau, his profile picture had been changed to show a picture of two doors opening, one that appears to be leading to heaven, and one to hell. Now that is a sign of martyrdom. It means that he was prepared to die in his own holy war against Canadians.

Months earlier, on April 14, one of his posts reads: “Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment.” Well, he isn’t Allah but he could do Allah’s work by sending those men and women to hell. The question that must have been in his mind was, who will he send to hell? Underneath that post was the image of a sheik, combined with an Israeli and American flag and American dollar bill. It's one of a series of images critical of American foreign policy. 

Obviously, he wanted to fight with ISIS to thwart any ambitions of the Americans to control the world—a ridiculous motive especially since that is not the goal of the Americans. Since he couldn’t get even with the Americans, he would get even with the Canadian government that had the temerity to seize his passport and destroy his dream of serving under the proposed new nation the ISIS is hoping to create. 

According to information Radio-Canada obtained from a friend of Couture-Rouleau, he had convinced at least four or five people in his circle of friends to convert to Islam.  But the friend said that Couture-Rouleau got carried away with an extreme interpretation of the Qur'an. That is when he became an extremist. I don't think he had any links with any terrorist groups but clearly he had an extremist ideology that cluttered his mind.

Earlier this fall, an ISIS propaganda video called on the group’s followers to target people in a number of countries, including Canada. It specifically suggested running people over with cars.

 Couture-Rouleau seems to be a lone wolf in part because of the lack of sophistication with respect to his hit-and-run attack on the two soldiers—one of who died. He obviously didn’t care if he himself was killed as a result of his actions since he had dreamed of being a martyr anyhow.

If this loser had been happily married (he has a small and an ex- girlfriend he doesn’t live with) and had a job that he loved (which he didn’t have one anymore) and was financially secure (which he wasn’t), it is highly unlikely that he would abandon all of that just to be a martyr for a cause that was weak to begin with. 

For the previous 18 months, this man progressed from a struggling entrepreneur to aspiring to be an ISIS fighter in Syria or Iraq. After his power-washing company floundered, his interests turned to ISIS propaganda flowing through the Internet. He was obviously excited at the tales coming from ISIS about their battle successes in Syria and Iraq.

Admittedly, we all are excited to some degree when we read about or see on TV battles taking place. It is that excitement that keeps us glued to CNN’s version of history as it unfolds before us.  But normal-thinking people don’t want to get enmeshed in those battles unless it is absolutely necessary. So why do homegrown terrorists choose this option while they are still living in their country that doesn’t have ongoing battles taking place? 

Quite frankly, I strongly suspect that they are all suffering from some form of mental illness. People who aren’t suffering from a mental illness aren’t stupid enough to go out of their way to risk their lives by joining terrorist groups knowing all along that they will have the might of superior armed forces clamping down on them for one purpose only and that is to kill them. Of course, if they are truly Islamic zealots, then they believe that if they die in battle, 72 virgins are waiting in heaven for them. If   those virgins are real and are all over 80 years of age, the terrorist`s deaths will be for nothing. 

His friends say that he wasn’t mentally ill but are they psychologists or psychiatrists. I am neither also I but I studied abnormal psychology for nine months at the University of Toronto as part of a four-year criminology program in the early 1970s. I also conducted group and private counselling sessions with mentally ill prisoners in a correctional facility in Toronto for a year. Based on the foregoing, I have some concept of mental illnesses.

Neither his family nor his friends could explain his actions when he targeted two members of the Canadian Army on a street and purposely drove his car into them, killing one of them and injuring the other. His family even asked the police to talk to him when they were concerned about his conduct and interest in wanting to fight with ISIS in Syria.

Any person who is so determined to kill people and do so knowing that he will be killed in the process of his actions while charging against the police with a knife when their guns are aimed at him is in my opinion, mentally ill. He obviously slid into the dark side when his company failed and he began searching for information on ISIS and planned to join them in Syria. And when his efforts to go to Turkey were thwarted because the RCMP had previously seized his passport that would take him there, he quickly slid deeper into the realm of mental illness. He was not insane because he knew what he was doing and the fact that he was fleeing from the police is proof that he knew that what he had done was illegal and morally wrong.

Could anyone have prevented him from running down the two soldiers?  The RCMP officers spoke to him 11 days before he ran his car into the two soldiers. Actually the RCMP had dealings with him for four months when they learned that he had stated in his Facebook that he wanted to fight in Syria as an ISIS terrorist. They couldn’t arrest him because he actually hadn’t committed a crime. Even when he said that he wanted to join ISIS, he still couldn’t be arrested since wanting to do something and actually doing something are entirely two different things. Even when he was at the airport to take a flight to Turkey, they still couldn’t arrest him although they did seize his passport as a preventative measure.

As I said earlier, the RCMP doesn’t have enough money or manpower to have two officers sit outside his home or follow him wherever he goes. And even if they followed him to the parking lot of a strip mall where he sat in his car for two hours, what could they have done? Admittedly sitting in a car for two hours is unusual but since they couldn’t read his mind, they wouldn’t have been able to stop him from suddenly driving his car out of the parking lot and heading towards the two soldiers crossing the street. The only way they could have stopped this murder from happening was to have arrested him but they had no justification to arrest him and have him detained since up to the time of the murder of the one soldier and the injury of the other one, he hadn’t yet committed a crime listed in the Canadian Criminal Code. 

Now if the police thought he was a terrorist, they could have arrested him and detained him while he was waiting for his trial. But despite him thinking about joining a terrorist organization and even making plans to join ISIS, the police didn’t believe that they could justify arresting him and charging him under our current laws even though they considered him as being a high-risk traveler. Instead, they treated him as if he was a mentally disturbed man—of which he was but that is not an arrestable offence unless there was evidence that he would harm someone or himself, which at that time, there was no such evidence of that actually happening. That is because flying to Turkey isn’t undisputable evidence that someone wants to be a terrorist. Further, there was no evidence that he had been communicating with terrorists. The RCMP Commissioner, Bob Paulson said that there is no way of knowing where when such an attack will take place. He said that these crimes are difficult to detect before they happen.

The trouble facing Canadians is that because there are too many of these unstable people in Canada who dream of being jihadist fighters, the police have to decide which of them merits close police observations 24 hours a day.
As a result of the particular hit and run incident and the shooting of a soldier a few days later at the War Memorial in Ottawa, Prime Minister Harper announced in parliament that he is going to propose that there be changes in the CSIS Act thereby giving that service greater authority to share intelligence on Canadian terrorist suspects with the US, the UK., Australia and New Zealand (known as the Five Eyes). The new legislation will also provide anonymity for CSIS informants. That will really create a problem since convicting someone on the testimony of an anonymous witness is contrary to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantees that everyone will have a fair trial. 

Now I realize that denying a defendant the right to face his accuser is contrary to the rights of all people in Canada but there can be times when it is necessary. For example, suppose an undercover agent has uncovered evidence that might convict the defendant of terrorism. The police may not want this man to be in court giving evidence as it might result in his role as an undercover agent being blown. Nevertheless, the defendant has the right to apply to another court to have the undercover agent testify in court. The judge in the higher court might give such an order or the judge may not. The judge would make his decision based on the consequences to the undercover agent if his cover in blown and if that risk is evident, then he would rule that the agent doesn’t have to testify in court.
The role of the Trial Division on an application under section 38.04 of the Anti-Terrorism Act is to balance the competing public interests which, in such a case would involve both the protection of sensitive information and the protection of an accused's constitutional rights to a full answer and defence and to a fair trial. A person charged with a criminal offence enjoys a qualified right to disclosure of all information relevant to his or her defence. This right  however is subject  to  the Crown's  discretion  and  the law  and rules of privilege. Where the information to be disclosed or sought to be obtained is sensitive information, a State privilege to confidentiality and secrecy is triggered and section 38 of the Act establishes the procedure by which the privilege is to be denied and the information ultimately secured.

The Trial Division judge must first determine whether the statutory prohibition of disclosure should be confirmed or not. Then, where seized with an application for an order regarding the disclosure of sensitive information, the judge has  to  determine whether the information sought to be disclosed is relevant, i.e., that may be reasonably useful to the defence.

The next step pursuant  to  section 38.06 is for the court to  determine whether or not that the disclosure  of  the witness or his information  would be damaging  to  international relations, national defence or national security.  The Attorney General of Canada (actually one of his lawyers) will present his position as to a protective role  vis-à-vis  the security and the safety of the public. If his assessment of the damages to the wellbeing of Canada is reasonable, the judge will accept it and deny the defendant his right to cross examine the protected witness for the purpose of him disclosing the information sought by the defendant. There is no doubt in my mind that that denial is unfair and contrary to Section 11 (d) of the Charter that guarantees that everyone in Canada will get a fair trial.  That is why we have section 24 in the Charter which gives the defendant the right to appeal that decision. That section also gives an appeal judge the authority to either let the trial judge’s decision stand as it is or overturns his decision.

I should point out that the government of Canada has given its approval of highly qualified lawyers to represent defendants in cases like this. They are permitted to look at all classified documents and question government officials in closed hearings, (without the defendants being present)  thereby giving the defendants a reasonable chance at getting a fair trial.

In Canada (Attorney General) v. Ribic, it was an appeal in 2005 against two orders of the Trial Division (as it then was) authorizing only partial disclosure of information sought by the appellant, and prohibiting two witnesses (witnesses A and B) from testifying at the appellant's criminal trial. However, with respect to the evidence of these witnesses, the Judge authorized disclosure of  expurgated versions  of  the transcript  of their testimonies to be presented before the Trial Division. 

The release  of  expurgated transcripts, and authorization  along with introducing them in evidence amounts  to  the balancing  of  competing interests which best serves the public interest and at the same time, limits damage to the defendant’s case as much as possible.

Michael Zehaf Bibeau a 32-year-old Canadian had become radicalized and was seeking a passport to fly to Syria. The government refused his request for a passport since his application was flagged by the police who had serious suspicions about what his real intentions were.

Let me say from the get go that he was mentally unbalanced since he spoke about being haunted by the devil. When he was in Burnaby, British Columbia, he was heard speaking to friends in a mosque of wanting to fly to the Middle East for language and religious studies. If that was his real purpose, then that intention was not criminal at all. However what concerned the RCMP was that he participated in online extremist forums and coupled with the fact that he had substance abuse problems and seemed to be moving about a lot, (he was homeless) their concern increased exponentially. He obviously was a man who had nothing to lose except his life since he had fallen on hard times again. Such a man with his problems can be extremely dangerous.  And yet, there was nothing the police could do to prevent him from doing what he was about to do on October 22nd of this year.

He had been staying at a shelter for homeless men in Ottawa and while there, he bragged about using crack cocaine and heroin. He had a long criminal record with respect to petty crime, threatening and being in possession of illicit drugs and he had suffered from alcoholism. He also appeared to be overly religious. That can be a sign of a zealot. There were a lot of other men in the shelter who also appeared to be bizarre so Bibeau blended in quite easily. In my opinion, I think his failed attempt at getting a passport was central to his motivation to conduct his terrorist activities in Canada as a lone wolf instead of being a terrorist in Syria with ISIS. 

Prior to his act of terrorism in Ottawa, he was overheard speaking in a heated discussion about the killing of civilians and soldiers and he referenced Canada’s foreign policy and his own religious beliefs in a video. He was articulate and quite lucid when he spoke in the video.

What is puzzling is how did this homeless man with a long rap sheet get his hands on a 30.30 Winchester lever action rifle? In any case just before 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, October 22nd, while he stood near the National War Memorial, he fired two shots at Canadian Forces reservist, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was a military ceremonial guard at the Memorial, fatally wounding him.  He fired the third shot at another military ceremonial guard and wounded him.

He then stormed Parliament Hill, seized a ministerial car, then ran into the Center Block of the Parliament buildings for the purpose of hunting down government officials and/or government ministers. He couldn’t have believed that he would be successful in fighting armed security personnel in the building considering that his rifle only held seven bullets and he had already fired three of them before he entered the building. In any case, his rampage was either a very poorly concocted plan of terrorism or his intention all along was to take his one-way trip to death from the beginning—after all; he really didn’t have anything to live for.

He fired his rifle at security guards and injured one of them and then less than a minute later, he was riddled with nearly a dozen bullets, with the Sergeant at Arms giving the final coup-de-grace shot with his nine-millimeter handgun. Bibeau’s one-way trip to death had been successful; much to the relief of everyone in the parliament buildings.

 He never would have got into the central Parliament building if the government wasn’t so stupid. It had refused to arm the security personnel who were on duty outside the building. They had been rebuffed every time they asked to be given arms.

Canada’s preparation for terrorism

Canada’s threat assessment agency warned last year of the potential for a terrorist attack in Ottawa, calling the capital region “a rich environment” and noting that “active shooter” terror attacks had taken place in the United States and Europe. In a “Confidential” report, the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre also said Canadian Forces could be targeted in Ottawa, adding the Toronto 18 terrorist group had discussed attacking Canadian military facilities and the Parliament Buildings. The RCMP has since shifted 300 of its officers to terror investigations from other of its departments.

Some pundits have suggested that all persons suspected of being a party to terrorism or having terrorism-links with real terrorists should be detained. I agree but I don’t think that anyone who has ISIS material in their computer should be arrested and detained because they could be simply curious and nothing more. However, if they try to contact anyone who is a terrorist or they promote terrorism in any manner whatsoever, they should be arrested and detained until their trials. But what, you may ask could they be charged with?
Canada has specific legislation to prevent and suppress the financing, preparation, facilitation and commission of acts of terrorism, as well as to protect the political, social and economic security of Canada and Canada’s relations with its allies.

Canada’s Criminal Code has sections in it that deals with terrorism.  Section 83.18 (1) states that “everyone who knowingly participates in or contributes to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.”
The Toronto 18 who were obviously misfits planned to go to Ottawa and cut off the head of the prime minister. Their leader got the maximum of 10 years.  He should have got life in prison with no parole.
 states that everyone who leaves or attempts to leave Canada, or goes or attempts to go on board a conveyance with the intent to leave Canada, for the purpose of committing an act or omission outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would be an offence under subsection 83.18(1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years.

I am forced to ask this rhetorical question. “Why haven’t the authorities arrested those persons who flew to Turkey and were suspected of being part of ISIS and then returned to Canada?” The answer is obvious. The authorities have no direct proof that they actually joined ISIS even though they strongly suspect that they did.  But suspicion alone is not enough to convict them.

Canada is faced with a real dilemma. We are a very just and democratic nation and we don’t arrest and charge people simply based on suspicion alone because if we fail to convict them, under the terms of our Charter, they can’t be tried again for the same crime unless it can be established that the judge made an error in law. If later, it is discovered that they really were guilty as charged, well that is too bad for Canada. They walked free out of the courtroom and can continue to walk free. This is why it is so important for the authorities, be they the police or SCIS to investigate every allegation filed with the police and/or SCIS and conduct surveillances if necessary to determine whether or not the suspicions are valid.

Unfortunately, not enough was done to protect the two Canadian soldiers who were killed by the losers that I wrote about in this article.  The authorities knew a great deal about them but it would appear that they simply didn’t have enough evidence of wrongdoing on their part to arrest them. Had they watched Bibeau 24/7, they would have spotted him carrying the rifle he wasn’t permitted to carry and arrested him on the spot. If they had, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo would still be alive today instead of being buried in a cemetery. 
For thirteen years after the 9/11 attack, Canada has slowly built a broad counterterrorism plan including some controversial strategies. Those two homegrown wannabe terrorists somehow slipped through the police net that should have been closing tightly around them.

I am afraid that we as Canadians will have to adjust ourselves to live with more stringent measures used to apprehend these homegrown wannabe terrorists so that they can be stopped before they commit their terroristic attacks and when they are caught  planning to do these crimes, they should be  punished severely. Such stringent laws will no doubt be uncomfortable for us innocent people in Canada but it certainly beats being extremely uncomfortable because of the loss of our loved ones at the hands of these sick homegrown wannabe terrorists. 

It appears that the authorities are doing a good job detecting them and denying them passports or seizing their passports but they are not doing a good job conducting surveillances on them. To accomplish this aspect of police work, the governments, both federal and provincial will have to pour more of the taxpayer’s money into CSIS and the RCMP to achieve this end.

Parliament will have to increase measures that will make it an offence to propose to other people about them joining a terrorist organization. Such persons who are advocating terrorism anywhere in the world should be detained without being eligible for bail since they are themselves, terrorists.  And if they are convicted of soliciting people to join a terrorist organization, they should be imprisoned for a minimum of 10 years. If they are convicted of planning a terrorist act or funding such an act, they should be imprisoned for a minimum of 15 years. If they commit a terrorist act and someone is injured as a result of that act, the terrorist should be imprisoned for a minimum of 25 years. And if anyone dies as a direct result of that terrorist act, the terrorist should be imprisoned for life without any hope for parole.

Now I realize these proposals are totally opposite as to what I proposed 29 years ago when I spoke at the Tenth UN Congress on the Treatment of Offenders in Milan in which I said that all terrorists of any stripe should be executed.  Back in 1985, I didn’t realize then as I did a decade later that a great many persons on death row in the U.S. were later found innocent. I played a relatively important role in 1976 in proposing that capital punishment should be abolished in Canada. After the Canadian parliamentarians and senators read my report on capital punishment, they agreed with my proposal.  This is why I have no qualms about advocating life without parole for terrorists who cause a death of an innocent victim because of a terrorist act.

I know that taxpayers will squawk about society paying the tremendous amount of money to house these terrorist for life in a prison but many years ago, I created the formula that was given to the then solicitor general of Canada; the said formula stating that each taxpayer will only pay five cents towards the imprisonment for life without parole of a criminal convicted of murder.  Probably in this current decade, it will increase to ten cents.

I hope that my readers have found this article informative even if it is scary.  

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