Here’s the “Executive Summary” from this year’s report:
The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who could be inspired to carry out an attack in Canada. Violent extremist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Qaida continue to appeal to certain individuals in Canada.
As in recent years, the Government of Canada has continued to monitor and respond to the threat of extremist travellers, that is, individuals who are suspected of travelling abroad to engage in terrorism-related activity. The phenomenon of extremist travellers—including those abroad, those who return, and even those prevented from travelling—poses a range of security concerns for Canada. As of the end of 2015, the Government was aware of approximately 180 individuals with a nexus to Canada who were abroad and who were suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activities. The Government was also aware of a further 60 extremist travelers who had returned to Canada.
The National Terrorism Threat Level
This Report, for the first time, includes a description of Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level system. The threat level has been unchanged since October 2014; it is MEDIUM, meaning a violent act of terrorism could occur in Canada. The threat level aims to ensure a consistent understanding across the Government of the general terrorism threat to Canada. The threat level serves as a tool for government officials, including those in law enforcement, to identify risks and vulnerabilities from threats and, in turn, determine appropriate responses to prevent or mitigate a violent act of terrorism.
The Global Environment
The threat environment has also evolved beyond Canada’s borders. Daesh has continued to dominate the landscape in the Middle East, where other terrorist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Hizballah also operate. Elsewhere in the Middle East, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of the civil conflict in Yemen to capture territory there and strengthen itself. This past year also saw Daesh’s expansion in Africa, and Boko Haram (now rebranded as an Daesh affiliate in West Africa) continues to pose a major threat to regional stability. In South and Southeast Asia, Daesh expansionism and entrenched regional groups shaped the threat environment.
This Report includes a feature on emerging issues in terrorism. These issues—the role of technology in terrorism, the participation of women in terrorist activities, and use of chemical weapons by terrorist organizations—have been widely discussed in the media over the past year. They represent only a fraction of many evolving issues that make terrorism such a complex problem.
Responding to the Threat
Since 2002, 20 individuals have been convicted of terrorism offences under the Criminal Code. Another 21 have been charged with terrorism-related offences (including 16 since January 2015) and are either awaiting trial or have warrants outstanding for their arrest.
Canada is contributing in a robust way, with more than 60 other countries, to the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh. This includes military initiatives and efforts to stem the flow of “foreign terrorist fighters,” cut off Daesh’s funding sources, support stabilization, and expose and counter Daesh’s ideology. More broadly, Canada has maintained a Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program as a key part of its terrorism prevention efforts.
The Government of Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts to address this evolving threat continue to be guided by the twin obligations to both keep Canadians safe and safeguard fundamental Canadian values and liberties…
Note this in the “Ministerial Forward“:
It is a serious and unfortunate reality that terrorist groups, most notably the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), use violent extremist propaganda to encourage individuals to support their cause. This group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym) in this Report…
So the Canadian government is in a position to decide what is “Islamic” and what is not? Plus a good question in a tweet: