The London police are investigating allegations of terrorism in the truck attack.That’s why this is so rare
The London police said they are considering terrorism charges against the man accused of killing a Muslim family member who was walking in London, Ontario. Because of their faith, Sunday.
But according to Canadian law, it is not always easy to obtain the evidence required for prosecution.
Michael Nesbitt, a professor of law at the University of Calgary, said: “We are talking about the legal system here. It is not politics, nor is it terrorism that you or me or anyone else might think at the table.”
“This is a fairly complex area…because we don’t have a definition of terrorism in Canada.”
On Sunday, 46-year-old Salman Afzaal, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughters Yumna Afzaal and Salman Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother were killed by a black truck while they were walking. . Fayez, the youngest member of the family, survived and is 9 years old this year.
Watch | Questions about whether London suspects may face allegations of terrorism
On Monday, London police charged a 20-year-old man with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, which they described as a “planned and premeditated act” against a family of five “because of their Muslim beliefs” “.
Paul Waight of the Det.-Insp. London Police said they are discussing the possibility of making terrorism charges with the RCMP and prosecutors.
The National Council of Muslims in Canada called the incident a terrorist attack on Canadian soil and urged it to be regarded as a terrorist attack. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons on Tuesday, describing it as a “terrorist attack motivated by hatred.” His national security adviser Vincent Rigby also called it terrorism in a public speech.
But not all acts of violence that are generally regarded as terrorism by the public will be prosecuted.
Trudeau and others claimed that there was a terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City in 2017. But no terrorism charge was filed against the shooter, and he eventually pleaded guilty to six first-degree murders and six attempted murders.
The van attack in Toronto in 2018 killed 10 people, which also sparked discussions about terrorism allegations. The police said that the murderer told them after being arrested that he intended to kill more people and was inspired by the misogynistic “incel” movement, whose members blamed their lack of sexual activity on women.
Last year, after a fatal machete attack at an erotic massage parlor in Toronto, Canada added one of the few cases of terrorism charges to a murder. After the first accusation of a 17-year-old teenager with first-degree murder, the police updated the charge a few months later to include terrorism because they said they had found evidence that the attack was inspired by incel ideology. The case is still in court.
Nesbitt said that one of the challenges involved in pursuing allegations of terrorism is that Canada’s anti-terrorism laws were drafted in a “leftist” mentality—meaning they are designed to undermine terrorist activities before they occur.
After 9/11, the federal government revised the Criminal Code and added new anti-terrorism crimes, covering acts “for political, religious or ideological purposes, goals, or reasons” and intended to intimidate the public. They include facilitating terrorist activities and financing terrorism.
“This is to prevent 9/11 from happening again. Don’t criminalize what happened afterwards, because we have committed this crime in our most serious crime, which is murder,” Nesbitt said.
“Once action is taken, it becomes less obvious how you make a charge of terrorism.”
There has been little public announcement about the motives of the London hit-and-run suspects. The police did not disclose what (if any) the defendant said to the police officer at the time of his arrest, nor did they disclose why they thought he targeted their family because of their beliefs.
Leah West, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at Carleton University, told CBC Power and politics Proving motivation is the key to reaching the threshold of terrorism accusations.
To obtain a charge, three things are required: the intention to cause death or serious injury, evidence that the act was carried out for “political, religious or ideological purposes, goals, or reasons”, and the act was carried out for the following intent Evidence of implementation. Intimidate the public or part of the population.
“Before we may see any type of terrorism allegations, you need to thoroughly investigate the person’s motives,” said West, a former national security attorney at the Department of Justice.
West said investigators may now be collecting this information and combing through any electronic records to find evidence of motives and plans.
However, when the police search for evidence after an attack, they always face the risk of the evidence being destroyed or difficult to decipher.
Christian Leuprecht, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University, said that the cost of online monitoring of extremist behavior is very high.
“Security agencies must make very difficult choices every day, deciding which resources to allocate to which individuals and which groups,” he told reporters. Power and politics.
“In essence, there will always be some people who will slip through the cracks, or some will just not be at risk of being on the radar.”
Nesbit said that the fact that terrorism charges were not filed immediately after the violence did not mean that they would not be filed later. He said it usually takes time to gather evidence to support the allegations of terrorism, and murder is easier to prove and will receive the most severe punishment.
Nevertheless, he believes that it is worth pursuing if there is evidence.
“The law has a communication function, and I think it is important to identify crimes when they occur,” he said.
Define “ideologically driven”
So far, it has been easier to prosecute allegations of terrorism in Canada than to file the charges first.
According to Nesbitt’s research, nearly 60 people have been charged with one or more terrorist crimes. As of 2020, Since 2001, 26 people have been convicted or pleaded guilty on terrorism charges.
There is little hope that others will be convicted by default and have been acquitted. There are less than 10 cases still in court.
Nesbitt said that the rate of convictions is consistent with the rate of other serious crimes.
He added that even if there is no provision for terrorist offences, it can be used in sentencing to obtain more severe punishment.
Watch | London police liaise with RCMP regarding potential terrorism allegations
Nesbitt said that if Ottawa wants the law to be more useful to investigators in this field, it can do two things.
He said that the first is to improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate terrorism cases-especially those who appear to be acting alone and have nothing to do with established terrorist organizations.
He said that the federal government should also better define “ideologically driven” in law.
“So far, we have not defined the meaning of ideological motivation in the criminal law or court decisions,” he said.
“So if I am the Ministry of Justice, if I am a lawyer, if I am a politician, I will think very hard whether we can give more certainty about the content of’ideology’ or’politics’ Help our investigators. Motivation means.”