Terrorism Law in Canada and Understanding Terrorist Charges

Criminal Defence » Articles » Terrorism Law in Canada and Understanding Terrorist Charges
By Published On: September 17, 2010

Canadian terrorism laws – and resultantly, lawyers specializing in terrorism cases – have been around since terrorism-related language was introduced into our Criminal Code following the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Nearly ten years later, we are starting to see more individuals facing prosecution under these new sections of the Criminal Code. Terrorism, consequently, is becoming a much more prominent area of concern for criminal lawyers in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario.

Recently, four men from Ottawa and London were arrested for their alleged involvement in a terrorism plot which the RCMP dubbed “Operation Samosa.” Charges against the men include conspiracy to facilitate a terrorist offence, and making or possessing explosives intended to harm others in support of a terrorist group.

Similar terrorism stings have been making headlines over the last few years.  In 2006, 18 citizens – the “Toronto 18” – were arrested for planning a bombing in Toronto and trying to establish a terrorist network. In 2008, an Ottawa man was found guilty of building a bomb remote for terrorism-related purposes, and for willingly participating in a terrorist plot.

In many of these situations, terrorism investigations are carried out by the RCMP with assistance from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), who use surveillance to pinpoint alleged terrorist activity.

For an action to count as terrorist activity, it must be planned or performed in connection with an ideological, political, or religious cause. It must also be intended to harm/endanger others, put public safety at risk, damage property, or seriously disrupt an essential system.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada’s section on terrorism, a number of actions alert these forces to terrorist activity, and could result in terrorism charges:

  • Directly planning or carrying out a terrorist activity.
  • Knowingly dealing with terrorists.
  • Possessing property for terrorist purposes, or knowingly making property and services available for terrorist services.
  • Participating in and/or facilitating the activities of a terrorist group – even if the activities are never fully carried out.
  • Conspiring with a terrorist group.
  • Harbouring or instructing terrorists, or knowingly allowing others to do so.
  • Orchestrating a terrorism hoax – in other words, misinforming others to make them believe a terrorist activity is underway, even if that’s not the case.

What constitutes a terrorist group? The Ministry of Public Safety maintains a publicly available list of known terrorist groups. Any group not found on the list can still be designated under the law as a “terrorist group” – as long as one of the group’s purposes is to plan and/or carry out a terrorist activity.

If you’ve been contacted by CSIS, the RCMP, or another government organization concerning your possible involvement with a terrorist group or activity, the first thing to do is contact an experienced criminal lawyer who understands terrorism cases. For more information, don’t hesitate to contact an Ottawa criminal defence lawyer at Auger Hollingsworth by phone (613) 699-8192 or by email [email protected].

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