Overview:  The United States and Canada enjoy longstanding coordination on defense and security, including counterterrorism cooperation.  Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level remained at “medium” through 2022, meaning authorities assessed a violent act of terrorism could occur.

2022 Terrorist Incidents:  On March 19, Mohammad Moiz Omar allegedly entered Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Center in Mississauga, Ontario, and discharged bear spray while brandishing a hatchet.  Worshipers tackled Omar before anyone was seriously hurt.  Omar faces six charges, including assault with a weapon and administering a noxious substance with intent to endanger life or cause bodily harm.  On June 8 the deputy attorney general consented to begin terrorism proceedings against Omar, noting his alleged offenses constituted terrorist activity pursuant to Sections 2, 83.01(1)(b) and 83.27 of Canada’s Criminal Code.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security:  Canada’s strict privacy policies continued to complicate CT-related intelligence sharing within Canada, and between Canada and other countries.

On October 26, Canada repatriated Kimberly Polman, Oumaima Chouay, and Chouay’s two children from a displaced persons camp in Syria.  Both adults were arrested upon arrival in Canada.  On October 27, Polman appeared in Chilliwack Provincial Court, British Columbia, for a bail hearing related to a Terrorism Peace Bond application initiated under Section 810.011 of Canada’s Criminal Code.  Polman was released, subject to bail conditions.  Chouay, who had been under investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s (RCMP’s) Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (or INSET) since 2014, had four terrorism-related charges filed against her.

In 2022, Canada’s Federal Court (a federal first-instance trial court equivalent to a U.S. district court) held hearings on a September 2021 lawsuit filed by family members of several Canadian citizens detained in camps in Syria.  Applicants seek to force the government to repatriate detainees based on the “right of return” to Canada guaranteed to citizens under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In a December 1 filing, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) informed the court it had determined 19 detainees (six women and 13 children) met a threshold under the government’s 2021 policy for providing “extraordinary assistance” to Canadians abroad, and GAC was assessing whether to provide repatriation assistance.  Some 40 Canadians remained in Syrian camps as of December 31.

In 2022 there were developments in ongoing legal proceedings with a terror nexus:

  • On May 6, Seth Bertrand was charged under Section 83.18(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code, in part for his participation in listed terrorist entity the Atomwaffen Division, subsequently renamed the National Socialist Order (NSO). Bertrand, arrested in 2021, pleaded guilty to derivative offenses and not guilty to terrorism.  This was the first national security charge against an NSO member in Canada since its listing as a terrorist entity by Canadian authorities.
  • On May 26 the Court of Queen’s Bench (a provincial superior trial court) in Edmonton, Alberta, sentenced Hussein Borhot to 12 years in prison for partaking in ISIS activities in Syria, including kidnapping. The trial for Borhot’s cousin, Jamal Borhot — also charged with participating in terrorist activity — was delayed until 2023 after his lawyer withdrew from the case.
  • On September 14 the perpetrator of a 2020 attack in Toronto motivated by “incel” (involuntary celibate) ideology pleaded guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. The plea did not cover an associated terror charge; a ruling on that charge is expected in 2023.  This was the first time terror charges were laid in Canada for an act motivated by incel ideology.  The perpetrator, who killed one and wounded two during the attack, was 17 at the time the offenses were committed and thus cannot be named under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Thirteen Freedom Convoy protestors were arrested on the Canadian side of the Sweetgrass, Montana-Coutts, Alberta joint border inspection station on February 14.  Four ultimately were charged with plotting to kill RCMP officers.  An RCMP search of property associated with the group uncovered weapons, ammunition, and tactical gear.  Patches on seized body armor included a white supremacist symbol and the emblem of Diagolon, a Canadian far-right “extremist” group.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism:  Canada is a member of FATF and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering.  Its FIU, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Center (or FINTRAC), is a member of the Egmont Group.

On April 27, Canada amended regulations under its Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act that broaden the legislation’s scope to cover crowdfunding platforms and certain implicated payment service providers.  The changes came in response to the January/February Freedom Convoy protests, which were partly financed through crowdfunding platforms.  On June 3, the Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia released its final report.  It recommended closing gaps in the province’s AML/CFT regime and identified areas for deepened federal-provincial collaboration.  On November 14, Canada designated Iran as a regime that has engaged in terrorism.  This designation precludes senior regime officials, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, from entering Canada.

For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2022 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.

Countering Violent Extremism:  The Public Safety Canada (PSC)-U.S. DHS-led Ideologically Motivated/Domestic Violent Extremism (IM/DVE) Working Group developed a joint threat assessment in October, examining commonalities and associations between IM/DVE individuals and groups in North America and how these parties connect, with an eye toward mitigating difficulties in cross-border collaboration.

PSC’s Canada Center for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence continued its close collaboration with its U.S. counterpart, DHS’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, and engaged with Five Eyes CVE working groups.  On September 20, Canada pledged $1.4 million (1.9 million Canadian dollars) through the Center’s Community Resilience Fund to support Phase 2 of Tech Against Terrorism’s Terrorist Content Analytics Platform.

In August, Canadian media reported on intelligence assessments from the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Center (ITAC) on the January/February Freedom Convoy protests; partially redacted versions of these classified documents were released following a request under Canada’s Access to Information Act.  While the protests by the Freedom Convoy and related groups were not considered “extremist” events, ITAC assessed they fueled anti-authority sentiments among adherents of ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) and that “IMVE threats to political figures and government symbols will persist into the foreseeable future.”

International and Regional Cooperation:  In 2022, Canada completed its term as co-chair of the GCTF but remained an active member.  Canada also remained active in counterterrorism efforts of numerous international organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  Canada renewed its financial support to the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund and remained a board member.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future