Mohamed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Salem Al-Hazni, what do these names have in common? Why are they of any concern to Canadians? The above names have become synonymous with terrorism and are associated with how North Americans now deal with terrorism and perceive themselves regarding global issues. These are but a few of the names of the men who carried out one of the largest terrorist attacks on American soil. Furthermore, they have created one of the greatest changes in thought and policy by western nations on terrorism and the threats they may face. Canada has not been immune to these changes and realizations. With the loss of 22 Canadian Citizens in the 9/11 attacks there, was a greater urgency that they too could be a direct target and face similar terrorist acts (9/11 Commission, 2004)
"As the 9/11 Commission reported in 2004, all of the 9/11 terrorists arrived in the United States from outside North America. They flew in to major U.S. (United States) airports. They entered the U.S. with documents issued by the United States government, and no 9/11 terrorists came from Canada." (National Post) These comments were a relief to the Canadian government and citizens to dispel the rumors, fears and myths about what had transpired. However, the belief by many U.S. politicians and citizens still remains even after proof to the contrary was provided. This view is supported when agencies such as C.S.I.S. report that with the exception of the United States, Canada has more active terrorist groups than any other country in the world. (Canadian Security Intelligence Service, 2008)This is a concern for The United States, a country that has experienced terrorism firsthand and one that has been targeted directly by terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, and when Canada is seen as being soft on terrorism is a cause for concern to them.
In February 1998, the 40-year-old Saudi exile Usamah Bin Ladin (Osama Bin Ladin) and a fugitive Egyptian physician, Ayman al Zawahiri, issued a 'fatwa' (an Islamic religious decree issued by theÂ ulama) to all Muslims. In their Fatwa they claimed that America had declared war against God and his messenger. They decreed that the murder of any American, anywhere on earth, is the "individual duty for every Muslim who can do it, in any country in which it is possible to do it." (Lehrer, ND)
Three months later, when interviewed in Afghanistan by ABC-TV's John Miller, Bin Ladin elaborated on his fatwa. He claimed it was more important for Muslims to kill Americans than to kill other infidels."It is far better for anyone to kill a single American soldier than to squander his efforts on other activities," he said. Asked by the reporter whether he approved of terrorism and of attacks on civilians, he replied:"We believe that the worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists are the Americans. Nothing could stop you except perhaps retaliation in kind. We do not have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets. (Miller, 1998), (Interview Osama Bin Laden, 1998)
These comments have far reaching effects not only on Americans, but also many other nations around the globe including Canada which support the United States. Canada has been seen by some experts as being soft on Crime and a haven for terrorists. After the 9/11 attacks, Canada enacted Bill C-36 which was introduced to the Canadian Parliament on October 15, 2001. This act is now called the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), which has not been fully accepted by Canadians and the courts and has faced some challenges and criticism. Some would argue that the Act and subsequent changes in the name of National Security was merely enacted to appease American Authorities. This approach could be seen as is described by (Miljan, 2008, p. 29) as 'Globalization' in that these laws were out of the government's control and were influenced by not only the desire to protect its citizens but also to meet the structure of institutions of global governance. A failure on the part of our Government could have resulted in serious economic and political backlash by the United States.
When Bill C-36 the Anti-Terrorism Plan was implemented, it had five clear objectives:
to prevent terrorists from getting into Canada;
to protect Canadians from terrorist acts;
to bring forward tools to identify, prosecute, convict and punish terrorists;
to keep the Canada-U.S. border secure and open to legitimate trade; and
to work with the international community to bring terrorists to justice and address the root causes of terrorism.
(Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 2003)
This act was meant to be seen as sending a message to the United States, that Canada was serious about dealing with terrorism and helping its neighbor and ally. However, it has also been viewed by some as going against the Charter which is the law of our Land and the very fabric of what Canada stands for.
What has resounded since the events of September 11, 2001 has been echoed throughout the world. The 'Attack on Terrorism' has been used as a guise in the opinion of some to allow nations to use force on other realms and to enact powers which give governments and authorities broad powers at home. These authorities aid in strengthening security and safety, yet the question remains, at what cost? Has the cost been too high, have we given up to much of our freedom which would mean that terrorists have won? We will examine how the Anti-Terrorist Act emerged and how it is viewed and evolved.
Canada has made readjustments on its policies and laws towards terrorism post the 9/11 attack. K. Roach contextualizes the policy readjustments in terms of Canada's geographical relations with the US. Roach explains that Canada's close proximity with the US makes it more vulnerable to terrorism and an easy target for accusations that it cuddles terrorists. The ATA (Anti-terrorist Act) is the principal revamp on Canada's approach to terrorism. Before the introduction of ATA, Canada had relied mainly on Criminal and Immigration laws. Under the ATA there is a broad definition or scope of terrorism compared to the I.R.P.A. (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) and that under the ATA, a Public Safety Act has been enacted. The definition under ATA is as follows:
(a) an act or omission, in or outside Canada,
(i) that is committed
(A) in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and
(B) in whole or in part with the intention of intimidating the public, or a segment of the public, with regard to its security, including its economic security, or compelling a person, a government or a domestic or an international organization to do or to refrain from doing any act, whether the person, government or organization is inside or outside Canada, and
(ii) that is intended
to cause death or serious bodily harm to a person by the use of violence,
(B) to endanger a person's life,
(C) to cause a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or any segment of the public,
(D) to cause substantial property damage, whether to public or private property, if causing such damage is likely to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C) and (E), or
(E) to cause serious interference with or serious disruption of an essential service, facility or system, whether public or private, other than as a result of lawful advocacy, protest, dissent or stoppage of work that does not involve an activity that is intended to result in the conduct or harm referred to in any of clauses (A) to (C),
and includes a conspiracy, attempt or threat to commit any such act or omission, or being an accessory after the fact or counseling in relation to any such act or omission, but, for greater certainty, does not include an act or omission that is committed during an armed conflict and that, at the time and in the place of its commission, is in accordance with customary international law or conventional international law applicable to the conflict, or the activities undertaken by military forces of a state in the exercise of their official duties, to the extent that those activities are governed by other rules of international law.
(b)`terrorist group'' means
(a) an entity that has as one of its purposes or activities facilitating or carrying out any terrorist activity, or
(b) a listed entity,
and includes an association of such entities.
(c) For the purposes of this Part, a terrorist activity is facilitated whether or not
(a) the facilitator knows that a particular terrorist activity is facilitated;
(b) any particular terrorist activity was foreseen or planned at the time it was facilitated; or
(c) any terrorist activity was actually carried out.
(Department of Justice Canada, 2009)
Some proponents favour the new and improved ATA over Canada's excessive reliance on criminal and immigration laws, which in their views tend to step on due process and the rights of the accused. (Roach, 2005, pp. 511-533)
'Understanding & Responding to the terrorist Phenomena,' this report brings to attention that Canadian response to terrorism does not involve a single strand but is a tangle of issues. One of the complexities it presents is the difficulty of defining what constitutes terrorism. Although the ATA sets the criteria, terrorism remains a fluid and encompasses too many possibilities (ex. Based on the definition, a religious group protesting in the streets may be considered a terrorist). Hanniman, the author of this report, expounds the complex Canadian response to terrorism and states that there should be cooperation between government and the public. The National Security Policy reflects the multi-faceted terrorism response Hanniman is talking about, as it tries to protect the country and its residents from terrorist attacks and ensure that Canada does not become home to terrorists. (Hanniman, A community based multi-faceted response to the terrorist threat in Canada, pp. 313-325) This could be seen in what is outlined in the Marxist theory, where certain classes of people could be targeted. In this, we see many Muslim and Middle Eastern communities which have lower socio-economic and political standing will wear the brunt of these new laws. (Miljan, 2008, p. 26). The article is an assessment on how Canada is doing in its anti-terrorism bid. The main point of the paper: Canada is not faring well in its attempts to improve the defense against terrorism. According to CSIS, (Canadian Intelligence Security Service) despite efforts to bring down terrorist incidents since September 2001, insufficient evidence demonstrates a decline in the number of terrorist groups (ex. Hezbollah, Tamil Tigers, Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which proliferated in the 90s. Collacott discloses that the root cause of the failings of Canada and that is the lax implementation of ATA is the root cause of Canada's failings. As evidence, the author comments that, there exists no ban on terrorist groups and surveillances outnumber arrests. The US is aware of this problem and expresses concern, as it fears that Canada may be a launching pad for terrorism. (Collacott, 2006)
There are downsides to Canada's anti-terrorism policies and laws among which are the abuse of human rights and curtailment of freedom. The article focuses on the repulsive side to the war on terrorism as it tells the personal story of Suleyman Goven who claimed to be psychologically tortured by CSIS after being accused of being part of Kurdistan Workers Party. The article also slams Bill-C42 (Secure Flight program) which demands airlines to provide names of passengers if it lands or flies over a state. Critics argue this violates the right to privacy. (Liem, 2011)
Reid Morden, a former CSIS chief, condemns the reintroduction of two anti terrorism measures into the ATA, which are the preemptive arrest of suspected terrorists sans warrant of arrest followed by a three-day detention and the forced appearance of witnesses before a judge as the latter demands information on a terrorist or terrorist group. (CBC News, 2010)
This compilation of interviews tackles the impact of the 2001 anti-terrorism act. The document points out civil liberties which can be undermined because of the bill. (ex. specific groups and organizations (ex. Arab and Muslim Canadians) can become easy targets). The lack of full proof accountability mechanism is one other problem to ATA. The document also summarizes the factors, which makes Canada vulnerable to terrorism (porous US border and Canada's involvement in the Afghan war). (Department of Justice Canada, 2010)
Due to modernization and the new threats of terrorism, we have become a risk society, wherein the traditional ways of responding to threats no longer apply; thus control is not in the hand of citizens. In this scenario, the author justifies the use of force and repressive actions as he states "â€¦in order to reduce the threat of terrorismâ€¦we may institutionalizing a legal regime that is repressive of civil liberties" . (Schneiderman, 2002, p. 70)
According to the ICLMG report, certain aspects of Canada's anti-terrorism policies and laws violate certain articles of ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) as well as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. (Tassé & Allmand, 2008)
The names Atta, Al-Shehhi and Al-Hazni some of the men associated to September 11, 2001 have effected what terrorists have desired all along, FEAR. Canada along with many other nations have had to restrict liberty in certain venues and conditions with an effort to combat the threat of terrorism. There will always be controversy in the steps taken, with some arguing that the laws do not go far enough and with others claiming it has gone too far. Based upon the events of the past decade or so, it is not a matter of 'IF' Canada will experience the same types of events as the United States but 'WHEN'. Will all the measures that have been taken or not taken place be enough? Did Canada truly think through its approach to terrorism, or was it just a knee jerk reaction to appease the United States, only time will tell.