Immediately, after the Brussels attacks, an engineering student from the University of Waterloo was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Even if the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale went out publicly and declared that Canada isn't under any additional or specific terrorist threats, the RCMP decided to choose to arrest the suspect during a time of fear.
This is not the first time. One can only remember that the arrest and charging of Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, both accused and convicted in the Via Rail trial, happened on April 22, 2013, within a week after the Boston Marathon Bombing. During the aftermath of these tragic events, the population is scared and continually bombarded with hundred and thousands of images of destruction and devastation. Emotions run high among the population and the pressure of finding the culprits or their associates is equally high within the police forces.
The RCMP evoked the "fear of terrorism" provision included in the Criminal Code.
But from a PR point of view, it is also very easy for security and intelligence agencies to "sell" their cases with the public. The former Conservative government used to choose these particular tragic moments to introduce new controversial anti-terrorism legislation. For instance Bill C-44, which extended the powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) mainly with the protection of intelligence sources, was tabled in the House of Commons on October 27 2014, one week after the Parliament Hill shooting.
What is troubling with this recent arrest is not only the timing, but the basis of it.
Kevin Omar Mohamed was first arrested as part of a peace bond ordered under Section 810.011 of the Criminal Code. He was also charged with weapons offences. The RCMP evoked the "fear of terrorism" provision included in the Criminal Code.
This is a direct implication of the use of some prerogatives of Bill C-51 related to the promotion of terrorism and preventive arrest. It is a preventive measure that put restriction on a suspect in case when there is not enough evidence to charge him.
Since last year, several Muslim men have been arrested using this procedure. The most prominent case was the one of Aaron Driver from Winnipeg in Manitoba who was subject of a peace bond in June 2015. Aaron Driver was first required to wear a GPS monitoring bracelet and undergo religious counselling but later these conditions were dropped after he was released on bail but he was required to live with a family member and he couldn't own a cellphone as well as he had to stay away off social media.
Peace bonds put several restrictions on suspected individuals restricting their travel and their use of Internet. Many observers following the case of the recent arrest of the Waterloo student, initially thought that the reasons behind the arrest of Kevin Omar Mohamed were his alleged sympathetic comments on the Internet and his alleged tweets regarding some of the groups fighting in Syria like ISIS and Jubhat-Al-Nusra.
However, on the day where the suspect was supposed to appear in front of the judge about the peace bond, everyone was surprised, including the lawyer of the suspect, to learn that the RCMP dropped the peace bond and instead charged the suspect with one of the frequently used section of the Criminal Code: section 83.18 in the terrorism cases. So what happened between the day of the arrest and the day of the court hearing? Were the RCMP able to find new evidence against him four days after he was arrested? We don't know.
Did the suspect admit travelling abroad to commit terrorist offences? We don't know. If that was the case, why wasn't he arrested at the time when he allegedly left the country or why wasn't he arrested when he came back from abroad?
In their statement issued last Tuesday to introduce the terrorism offences, the RCMP mentioned that they "would also like to thank the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) for their precious collaboration in this investigation."
Was this an indication that the suspect sent money overseas to support terrorist groups? We don't know.
Another complex case that we will keep monitoring and make sure that the rule of law will be followed even if we still find the timing of the arrest and the abrupt introduction of the terrorism charges very unclear and very confusing.
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Active from: 1969 until 2005 Motivation: The ending of British rule in Northern Ireland and the creation of a united Ireland Tactics: Bombings, shootings mortar attacks. Operated in: UK Killed in Western Europe: 621 to 644 civilians (1,840 civilians are thought to have died altogether during 'The Troubles' Notable attacks: 1996 Manchester bombing In this picture, trainee members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) practice guerilla warfare tactics at a secret location in the countryside outside the town of Donegal in the Irish Republic, 21st August 1986
Active from: 1970 - 1973 Motivation: Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation Tactics: Kidnapping Operated in: Germany Killed in Western Europe: 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team Notable attacks: Munich In this picture taken on September 5, 1972 shows a Palestinian guerilla member (C) appearing on the balcony of the Israeli house watching an official (L) at the Munich Olympic village. As German magazine 'Der Spiegel' reports in its edition from June 18, 2012, German neo-Nazis supported the Palestinean assassins of the 1972 Olympic Games. A group of 'Black September' Palestinian guerrillas broke into the Israeli building in the Olypmpic village near Munich where 10,000 athletes were staying 05 September. Eleven Israeli hostages were killed in the attack.
Active from: 1969 - 1974 Motivation: Far-right neo-facist group Tactics: Bombings, shootings Operated in: Italy Killed in Western Europe: 38 Notable attacks: The Italicus Express massacre in 1974 in which 12 people were killed and 48 wounded In this picture, Public Prosecutor Vittorio Occurso (1928-1976) slumps in his car after having been assassinated as he left home in Rome by the Neo Fascist group.
Active from: 1973 - 1987 Motivation: French far-right anti-Arab terrorist group Tactics: Bombings, kidnappings Operated in: France Killed in Western Europe: 4 Notable attacks: Bombed the Algerian consulate offices in Marseilles in 1974
Active from: 1970–1998 Motivation: Far-left militant group in "anti-imperialistic struggle" with West German government Tactics: Bombings, shootings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies Operated in: Germany, Sweden Killed in Western Europe: 34 Notable attacks: The West German Embassy siege in Stockholm In this Oct. 31, 1968 file picture, Andreas Baader, left, is seen together with Gudrun Ensslin during the proclamation of their sentence in their department store arson trial in Frankfurt/Main, West Germany.
Active from: 1975–1988 Motivation: "To compel the Turkish Government to acknowledge publicly its responsibility for the Armenian Genocide in 1915, pay reparations, and cede territory for an Armenian homeland." Tactics: Bombing, shootings Operated in: France, Italy Killed in Western Europe: 38 Notable attacks: The 1981 Turkish consulate attack In this picture, Vahran Vahranian, Mihran Mihranian and Murad, respectively spokesman and members of political committee of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), during a press conference 15 October 1986 in Beirut. ASALA, one of the Lebanese-based extremist groups, claiming co-responsibility for a wave of terror bomb attacks in France, was demanding the release from prison in France of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, presumed leader of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction, Anis Naccache, convicted assassin of former Iranian Premier Shapur Bakhtiar, and ASALA militant Varadjian Garabidjian, jailed for a 1983 bombing of a Turkish airline counter at Orly airport near Paris. ASALA, the Marxist-Leninist terrorist group was formed in 1975 with the stated aim of forcing Turkey to acknowledge responsibility for the deaths of 1,5 million Armenians in 1915, to force Ankara to pay reparation and cede territory for an Armenian homeland. ASALA also conducted an armed campaign mainly against Turkish targets in the world.
Active from: 1973 - 1994 (arrested) Motivation: Left-wing political terrorist and member of the PLFP Tactics: Bombing, assassination Operated in: France Killed in Western Europe: 11 Notable attacks: The OPEC siege in which three people died. Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, also known as " Carlos The Jackal, " is pictured in an undated photo. Venezuelan-born Carlos, the world's most elusive terrorist. He went on trial in Paris on December 12, 1997, for the 1974 killings of two French counterintelligence agents. He was also been charged in the 1974 attack at a noted Paris cafe that killed two people and wounded 34.
Active from: 1987 - 1981 Motivation: Italian neofascist group Operated in: Italy Tactics: Bombing Killed in Western Europe: 85 Notable attacks: The Bologna massacre General view of Bologna Central station and of wagons of the Ancona-Chiasso train pictured on August 02, 1980 in Bologna after a terrorist bombing which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200. At 10:25 am., August 02, a timed improvised explosive device (IED) contained in an unattended suitcase detonated inside an air-conditioned waiting room, which, the month being August (and with air conditioning being uncommon in Italy at the time), was crammed full of people. The IED was made of TNT, T4 and a 'Compound B', also known as Composition B.
Motivation: Military confrontations with US military Tactics: Bombing Deaths: 270 Notable attacks: Lockerbie In this December 1988 file photo wrecked houses and a deep gash in the ground in the village of Lockerbie, Scotland, that was caused by the crash of Pan Am Flight 103. Although the now-deceased Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi accepted responsibility in 2003, doubts remain about the truth behind the disaster.
Active from: 1959 - 2014 Motivation: Basque separatism Tactics: Bombing, kidnapping, shooting Killed in Western Europe: 829 (343 civilians) Notable attacks: The 1987 Hipercor bombing In this picture, masked members of the Basque militant group ETA hold up their fists in unison following a news conference at an unknown location. A Commission overseeing the Basque group ETA's cease fire has verified on Friday Feb. 21, 2014 that ETA has sealed and put beyond operational use a specified quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives.
Active from: 1988 - Present Motivation: Militant Islamist Tactics: Bombing, shooting Operated in: Spain, UK Killed in Western Europe: 255 Notable attacks: 7/7 Bombings
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Active from: 1999 - Present Motivation: The establishment of an Islamic Caliphate Tactics: Bombing, shooting, kidnapping Operated in: France Killed in Western Europe: 130 Notable attacks: Paris Attacks In this photo, a man lights a candle which forms a peace sign during a candlelight vigil for the Paris attacks in the town square of Molenbeek, Belgium on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015
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