Column: Echoes still to be heard from attack in Ottawa

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) knows that about 130 individuals have left Canada to join terrorist organizations...

As Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, the soldier shot last week while standing guard at the National War Memoria, was buried on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry laid a wreath at the Memorial in his memory and in support of Canada. He minced no words about the danger of radical extremism and the growing threat of home grown terrorists.

We are no strangers to terrorism. But with last week’s brutal murder of Cirillo, the attack on Parliament, and the savage killing of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Montreal, the potential for unstable, self-radicalized lone wolves obsessed with conspiracy theories, irrational hatreds, or ISIS-fueled anger with its warped interpretation of Islam have been a headache for intelligence and security experts for years. It was just a matter of time as to when and where one of them would surface and wreak havoc.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) knows that about 130 individuals have left Canada to join terrorist organizations, their destination Syria to fight with ISIS. Over 80 have returned. Yes, they are being watched. But, no doubt, in the dark underbelly of this terrorist obsession are others operating under the radar who are not on the watch list and who could surface anywhere, anytime. Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who shot Cpl. Cirillo was one such person.

But who, or what, is ISIS?

Three years ago, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) didn’t exist. Yet now it dominates wide regions of Syria and Iraq and takes great pride in its gruesome beheadings on YouTube. It might be easy to dismiss them as brutal, fanatical lunatics except for the fact that they are an entity with a sophisticated command, intense control, a propaganda machine, and effective logistical capabilities to allow them to hold critical territory in the heart of the Middle East.

According to an article by Shoshana Bryen and Michael Johnson with the Jewish Policy Center, ISIS is a combination of a non-al-Qaeda revival of the Islamic State of Iraq (originally sponsored by al-Qaeda) and Sunni Syrian rebel groups including the Nusra Front. They are immensely wealthy with known cash reserves and assets well over $2 billion. They continue to raise $2 million a day from seized oil sales, extortion and smuggling.

Their agenda is to enforce their view of conservative Islamic traditions and they use social media to spread fear. They have over 30,000 fighters known for their extreme brutality. The common thread is hatred for western democracy. As U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “Islam is a religion of peace. They (ISIS) are not Muslims. They are monsters.”

But the attack in Ottawa has sent jitters through the halls of major cities. Immediately after last Wednesday’s attack on Parliament Hill, there was an unprovoked attack on New York City police officers by a man with a hatchet. And remember the Boston Marathon bombings.

Security has been increased around public buildings in Washington. In the U.K., where over 500 radicalized individuals have left to join ISIS, heavily armed police detail now oversee the changing of the guards at London’s Buckingham Palace.

Lone wolf terrorists are on the rise. According to author Ramon Spaaij in his 2012 book Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism, between the 1970s and 2000s, attacks per decade have risen 45 per cent in the U.S. and a huge 412 per cent in 14 other countries. The worst on record is the attack in Norway when Anders Behring took 77 lives.

To combat the threat, the Harper government wants to increase the powers of CSIS and the RCMP but many want a measured approach to protect personal freedoms.

Finding that balance between vigilance and freedom could be quite challenging.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two ejected from single vehicle crash in Seabird Island

Landing zone for medevac has been requested

(File photo)
Semi truck and car collide on Highway 1 near Popkum

Slow lane eastbound is now closed as crews wait for tow trucks

Treeplanters from Shakti Reforestation are adding to the forests of Mount Thom Park. (City of Chilliwack)
Treeplanting project in Mount Thom Park will keep Chilliwack forest resilient

So far they’ve planted 2,000 of 80,000 trees planned for popular park on Promontory

Fire damage is seen in the windows of an apartment on Yale Road on April 21, 2021 following a fire there the night before. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack Fire Dept. reminds people again to have working smoke alarms following 2nd blaze in 2 days

All six halls responded to bedroom fire in apartment on Yale Road above restaurant in Chilliwack

Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area was the site of illegally dumped drywall reported on April 19, 2021. (Michael Hill photo)
Another cache of dumped drywall in Chilliwack prompts suggestion to block access

Pile of drywall likely asbestos containing discarded in wildlife management area

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. girl’s wish granted as her cat came back, two years later

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stu Burgess is operations manager for Golden Ears and Rolley Lake Provincial Parks. (The News files)
Golden Ears park camping to be limited to those in local health region

Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health now considered one region

Thousands have converged in Whonnock Lake Park to enjoy the nice weather. (Roxanne Hooper/The News)
Thousands enjoy B.C. park with warnings about social distancing

Portable toilets installed in anticipation of nice weather

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident wants Columbia River better protected

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Most Read