Crelinsten: Don't rush anti-terrorism legislation

Ronald Crelinsten

Last week’s attacks in St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu and Ottawa have raised many troubling questions.

The answers to date suggest that they are both cases of homegrown terrorism by self-radicalized individuals who were inspired by extremist ideology on the Internet. The attacks occurred a week after Parliament voted to join the military operation in Iraq; they targeted soldiers in uniform and the seat of government in Ottawa; and they employed tactics recommended by the Islamic State group in its September video calling for “low-tech” attacks in the West.

Whether the two perpetrators were “lone wolves” in the purest sense will only become clear as the police investigations expand. Martin Couture-Rouleau, the Quebec perpetrator, was already on the RCMP watchlist of 93 radicalized individuals. Zehaf-Bibeau’s email address was found on the hard drive of the computer belonging to Hasibullah Yusufzai, the first Canadian charged under the new law criminalizing fighting abroad with a listed terrorist entity. Yusufzai is purportedly in Syria, fighting with the Islamic State group.

Police, family and religious leaders all made serious efforts to convince Couture-Rouleau to abandon his jihadist goal. His passport was revoked in July when he tried to go to Turkey. The police wanted to arrest him, but a prosecutor reportedly refused to lay any charges.

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