Fighting Terrorism and Its Sponsors

Terrorism – the violent targeting of civilians to achieve extreme political ends – has a long history on every continent.  In the 20th century, it was a tactic used by violent separatist groups in many colonial and post-colonial conflicts, often with Soviet or Chinese Communist support.  After the Second World War, terrorism became particularly prevalent in the irregular warfare carried out by Arab- and Iranian-sponsored groups against Israel, as well as in the Pakistani-sponsored insurgencies in Kashmir and Afghanistan.  With the formation of Al Qaida in 1988, the Taliban in 1993, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in 2009 and the Islamic State in the Levant (Dayesh) in 2013, the reach and intensity of terrorist threats has grown.  Terrorism now threatens the stability of dozens of countries in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and beyond, as well the politics of the United States, Europe, Russia, China and other states.


Our strategy to counter jihadist terrorism to date has failed.  Civilian casualties and extrajudicial killings have generated communities of sympathy and new recruits for terrorist groups.  Counter-insurgency campaigns from the air and on land against terrorist formations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced their battlefield strength but not the sources of their support.


The greatest threat to international peace and security in the world today is state support for violent separatist, extremist and jihadist terrorist groups.  From Ukraine’s Donbass and Eastern Congo to Mosul (Iraq) and Raqqa (Syria), none of these groups would be an effective fighting force without funding, training, equipment, ammunition, intelligence and other enabling capabilities they receive from independent states, usually by covert methods, allowing them to prosecute irregular warfare, often with considerable success.


While the international community has successfully sanctioned Russia for its illegal occupation of Crimea and several eastern oblasts of Ukraine, the principal state sponsors of terrorism and other illegal proxy wars in neighbouring countries have not paid any significant political or economic price for their actions to date.


As Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister of Canada, I would:


(i)             strengthen Canadian legislation to provide for comprehensive political and economic sanctions against all state agencies, state companies, officials and their families involved in tangible forms of support for recognized terrorist groups, as well as those supporting other violent extremists;


(ii)           immediately implement such sanctions against relevant state entities in Iran, Pakistan, Russia and other state sponsors of terrorism and violent extremism;


(iii)          establish a centre of excellence in Canada to assess and identify all such entities and states involved in sponsorship of terrorism and violent extremism; and


(iv)          promote an effective international sanctions regime, including among NATO allies, and advocate far-reaching reforms of the currently ineffective UN Sanctions List.

Alexandra Day