Are more homegrown terror attacks inevitable in Canada?

Ronald Crelinsten

Editor's note: Ronald Crelinsten is an expert on terrorism and radicalization and the author of Counterterrorism. He is an associate fellow at the Centre for Global Studies at University of Victoria and Adjunct Professor at Royal Roads University. The views expressed are his own.

Last week's shocking events in Canada's capital, Ottawa, and in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, near Montreal, Quebec, confirm that the terrorist threat stemming from the Middle East knows no boundaries, and can take many forms. Yet while the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria, currently wreaking havoc in that region, has recently called for low-tech attacks in countries that have joined the U.S. coalition conducting airstrikes against them, this kind of threat is not new.

Back in October 2009, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula called for simple attacks with "readily available weapons such as knives, clubs or small improvised explosive devices". A few months later, as Stratfor notes, U.S.-born AQ spokesman Adam Gadahn issued a "A Call to Arms" for "grassroots jihadists" or "lone wolves" to strike targets close by rather than travel abroad, similar to the November 2009 attack by Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. Two months later, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, attempted to blow up a car in Times Square. And last May, two British citizens of Nigerian descent, ran over off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby in southeast London. They then hacked him to death with knives and a meat cleaver.

Canada has also seen its share of terrorism, including both domestic and international terrorism, homegrown and imported, nationalist and religious, single-issue and revolutionary.

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