CSIS notes 'insider threat' in Islamist extremism

A threat assessment prepared by Canada's spy agency identified "Islamist extremism" as an "insider threat" that will take advantage of weak states, according to a report obtained under the Access to Information Act by CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

Threat of extremism in Canada

Power and Politics

8 years ago
Former CSIS official Ray Boisvert says Canadians should be concerned about homegrown terrorism following news of Canadian militants in last weeks' Algerian hostage-taking 8:52

Canada’s spy agency sees the "insider threat" as a rising security risk for Canadians at home and abroad, according to a secret document obtained by CBC News.

Algeria's Prime Minister Abdul Malek Sallal said Islamist militants who attacked an Algerian gas plant last week included at least one Canadian — and a threat assessment report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service points to an upward trend of domestic Islamist extremism.

"Small groups (of) Canadians will continue to be inspired by the narrative and seek to engage in extremist activities both at home and abroad," reads The Threat Environment to 2025 report obtained by Power & Politics under the Access to Information Act.

A Canadian Forces C-17 military transport plane has been transporting equipment and personnel to Bamako, Mali in support of French forces in their mission against al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in the African nation. (Sgt. Matthew McGregor/DND handout/Canadian Press)

The assessment outlines global and domestic threats — and what is driving those trends, from energy and Arctic resources to geopolitical conflicts and the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The report notes that CSIS has a number of key regional conflicts and failing states it's keeping an eye on, including North and Western Africa where places like Mali and Algeria have been in the spotlight

The report says Islamist extremism is a complicated threat, and warns that extremists will take advantage of "under-governed spaces and weak states."

Some of the key factors that are driving domestic extremism in Canada include grievances against capitalism, polarized debate on immigration, the migration of ideas, tools and tactics and radical environmentalism, according to the CSIS report.

Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of intelligence with CSIS who is currently president and CEO of I-Sec Integrated Strategies, said radicalization is a "growing pattern" in Canada. CSIS has identified up to 50 people who have left Canada to fight abroad.

"That means there are a lot of people with Canadian passports, who represent this country, who are out there committed to violence against others, and as we've seen in the Algerian example, serious violence leading to murder. And that would be extremely troubling for any and all of us," he told Power & Politics host Evan Solomon.