A gunman whose name was on a terror watch list killed a soldier and attempted to storm Canada’s parliament in Ottawa on 22 October 2014, before the Assembly’s sergeant-at-arms shot him dead.
The attack—the second this week targeting Canadian military personnel—came as Canadian jets were to join the US-led bombing campaign against Islamist militants in Iraq.
Many in Canada are now asking: is this case of “one-off” violence inspired by IS, or does a larger problem exist?
Canada, much like the UK and other European countries, has allowed a steady stream of extremist individuals, money and ideology to enter the country. While they are still in the minority, Canada is home to a number of extremists who preach radical views. They have been creating a political space where promoting violence both at home and overseas is becoming acceptable.
Previously, extremist voices such as the Egyptian Canadian Ahmed Said Khadr, who was suspected of links with al-Qaeda, counselled that violent jihad overseas was required, but that violence in Canada was to be avoided. This has now changed.
Over the past years, a number of young Canadians have departed to be suicide bombers, IS soldiers and terrorist attackers. A conveyor belt system also exists for radicalisation that exploits vulnerable youth who respond to the messages of al-Qaeda, Hamas, IS and others.
Canada is now faced with the question of how it should respond to the spread of extremist ideologies. The first line of attack could be to remove charitable status from the front groups.