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We Cannot Compromise Justice In Canada's Fight Against Terror

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aaron driver
A handout photo of Aaaron Driver, provided by the RCMP. Aaron Driver was killed on Wednesday after a tip to Canadian authorities from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who had intercepted the video, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told a press conference. (Photo: LARS HAGBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

The world's attention will be on Canada as a result of last night's evening news about a terror suspect being shot dead by the authorities.

As the Toronto Star indicated, on Wednesday morning, hours before a terrorism suspect was killed in a confrontation with police in the southwestern Ontario town of Strathroy, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it received credible information of a potential terrorist threat.

The man killed was Aaron Driver, the Canadian Press reported. Last year, he had been arrested in Winnipeg under suspicion of terrorist connections and placed under a peace bond.

The 24-year-old was under a court order not to associate with any terrorist organization, including Daesh, an Islamist terrorist group also known as ISIS or ISIL.

The heart of every Canadian Muslim will now beat a little faster, knowing they will be viewed with renewed suspicion by their neighbours. News media will descend on our places of worship to get our reactions to this troubling news. Community leaders will do their part to issue statements of condemnation, but the Islamophobes will never be satisfied by it and will inevitably demand more.

I have full confidence in the ability of our authorities to protect us from those who intend to harm us and hold them to account. But one thing worries me about the way today's authorities locate, arrest or even kill terror suspects, and it was recently highlighted in a B.C. judge's argument against the RCMP.

How many more cases of this nature have happened where suspects were pushed to the edge and coerced into considering acts of terror?

In the landmark decision, as CTV reported, a British Columbia couple found guilty of terrorism charges had their verdicts tossed out in a scathing court decision that flayed the RCMP for its "egregious" conduct in manipulating naive suspects into carrying out a police-manufactured crime.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce said the Mounties used trickery, deceit and veiled threats to engineer the terrorist acts for which John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were arrested on Canada Day three years ago.

One wonders how far the authorities went to entrap these suspects. How many more cases of this nature have happened where suspects were pushed to the edge and coerced into considering acts of terror?

daech canada
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) block the entrance to Park Street as they investigate the residence of Aaron Driver, a Canadian man killed by police on Wednesday who had indicated he planned to carry out an imminent rush-hour attack on a major Canadian city, in Strathroy, Ontario. (Photo: REUTERS/Robert MacMillan)

Emotions run high when these cases surface. Truth is the first casualty in many cases, due in part to media sensationalism and incomplete or inaccurate reports resulting from media outlets' efforts to be the first to break the news.

It is worrisome to see these things happening in our modern time, but with honourable judges like Catherine Bruce, one still remains hopeful about our justice system.

In her Toronto Star column, Azeezah Kanji pointed out that most of these terror cases have one thing in common: informants play a key role to entrap suspects.

"As Human Rights Watch's 2014 report Illusion of Justice noted," she wrote, "almost 30 per cent of federal terrorism convictions in the U.S. since 9-11 have arisen from stings in which an informant played an active role in developing the plot. Many of these operations targeted people struggling with mental disabilities and poverty. In the case of the Newburgh Four, for example, a paid informant convinced four destitute men to commit an attack by offering them $250,000; one of the four had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and upon his arrest police found his apartment strewn with bottles of urine. This was a case in which 'the government came up with the crime, provided the means, and removed all relevant obstacles,' the judge in the case acknowledged."

Ms. Kanji also mentioned the recent arrest of a terror suspect in Arizona who was mentally ill:

"Last month, police arrested 18-year-old Mahin Khan on terrorism charges in Arizona, after he had been in contact with a government informant for years. "Mahin is 18 but mentally he is like a child," his father told The Intercept. "We didn't let him have a phone because we didn't trust him with one, but now we have found out that he had been using a phone given to him by the FBI."

The Guardian also found a similar pattern, noting that some of these controversial sting operations "were proposed or led by informants," bordering on entrapment by law enforcement.

As the threat of terrorism is certainly real, one can only hope and pray that those who intend to do harm against innocent people are caught before they fulfill their evil ambitions. However, we should never compromise the principle of justice, especially in a time of hysteria surrounding the war on terror.

We ought to take a great lesson from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce, who didn't allow the hysteria and sensationalism surrounding terror to influence her in her judgement. Because when emotion does the talking, we will all lose.

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