Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Some people are allergic to the T-word. After a lone gunman stormed Parliament Hill last fall, killing a soldier at the National War Memorial, they said it was not possible to conclude that this was terrorism. More likely, the guy just had mental problems. "I think that we're not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we would understand it," said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. "I don't think we have enough evidence to use that word."

In the Vancouver Sun, Ian Mulgrew argued that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was no terrorist. He was a victim. "The vast amount of tax money devoted to his petty crimes would have been far better spent providing him with appropriate psychiatric and social care," he wrote. As for the two people who plotted to bomb the B.C. Legislature, "They, too, seem more sad sack than Satanic."

Now we know better. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's self-made martyrdom video, released by the RCMP last week, is chillingly clear about his motives. "This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq," he said. "We'll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country … and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries." (In a very Canadian touch, he signs off by saying "Thank you.")

Story continues below advertisement

It's easy to see why certain people want to play down the T-word. The terror threat is a potent weapon in Stephen Harper's arsenal. This explains why media reaction to the video has focused not on what it reveals about the shooter's motives, but on how Mr. Harper is shamelessly milking the terror threat to scare the voters into re-electing him. As political strategist Greg Lyle put it in The Globe on Monday, "If the issue is, who do you think is going to be tough enough to deal with those bastards, the answer is going to be Stephen Harper. It's not going to be Justin Trudeau."

It's true that Mr. Harper is overplaying the threat of terrorism. It's also true that plenty of people are underplaying it. Even sad sacks bent on mayhem can get lucky. And it's disturbingly clear that an increasing number of young Canadians – male and female, Muslims and converts, foreign- and Canadian-born – are being caught up in a radical millenarian death cult.

In Toronto, two men, both Muslims, are on trial for allegedly plotting an attack on a Via Rail train. Their motive, according to the evidence, is the same as Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau's: retaliation for crimes against Islam. Their trial heard that the two are also reported to have discussed other options, such as opening fire on Canadians and Jews at the Pride parade. "I want this city, this whole country, to burn," said Raed Jaser, one of the defendants. And: "Everyone is a target, especially Jews." (His lawyer says he's just a con man and didn't mean it.) The other defendant, Chiheb Esseghaier, has refused to defend himself because the only authority he answers to is the Koran.

In Vancouver, John Nuttall and his wife, Amanda Korody, recent converts to radical Islam, are on trial for allegedly plotting to blow up the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day. They wanted to kill "as many [people] as possible," Ms. Korody says on a surveillance tape. "Twenty thousand of these disbelievers, all drunk, and hookers and drunks, and they're all gonna be there," says her husband.

In Manitoba, another convert, a 23-year-old who calls himself Harun Abdurahman is under investigation by CSIS. An active Twitter user, he has advocated butchery and beheadings, and has told journalists that the terror attacks on Parliament Hill and in Quebec were "justified" by Canada's war on the Islamic State. His devastated father, who is a member of the military, is at a loss to explain how he lost his son to radical extremism.

People who say we're overreacting like to argue that you've got more chance of being killed by a moose than by a terrorist. Maybe so, but they are missing an important point. The moose does not want to become a martyr for the Caliphate. A disturbing number of young Westerners do.

The number of extremists is growing across Canada, according to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson. So far, we've done a pretty good job of catching the stupid ones. I only hope we catch the smart ones, too. We shouldn't be spooked by terror threats. But we shouldn't be in denial that they're real.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies