2014 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat To Canada

Feature Focus 2014: Responding to Violent Extremism and Travel Abroad for Terrorism-related Purposes

2014 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat To Canada PDF Version (4.9 MB)
Table of contents

Ministerial Foreword

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Hon. Steven Blaney

In 2013, two young men from southern Ontario who had embraced an extremist ideology travelled abroad to become involved with a terrorist group. Both died while carrying out a deadly attack in the Algerian desert.

Canadians asked how two seemingly normal individuals could choose to engage in such terrible violence. Reports also emerged of other individuals with Canadian connections travelling to become involved in terrorism-related activities in places like Somalia and Syria. Some of these extremist travellers are presumed dead.

Canadians reject the use of terrorism in all its forms, no matter where it takes place. Countering terrorism at home and abroad also remains a top priority for the Government. Last year, Canadian authorities arrested two men for allegedly planning a terrorist attack in Ontario, and a man and a woman for allegedly planning an attack in British Columbia. Those cases are now before the courts. And, as this Report was being prepared, Mohamed Hersi became the first Canadian to be convicted of an attempt to travel abroad to join a terrorist group, al-Shabaab, in Somalia. As recently unfolding events in Iraq in 2014 demonstrate, consistently monitoring developments in the terrorist threat remains critical to guiding the Canadian response. The Government continues to act on many fronts, including listing entities like the Syria-based Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist entity under Canada's Criminal Code and supporting capacity-building initiatives abroad to strengthen global security.

I am honoured to present the 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada. It follows last year's Report and seeks to keep Canadians up to date about terrorism issues facing the country. This year's Report looks at terrorism developments in 2013 and early 2014 that matter to Canadians and how the Government has responded on their behalf. It builds on the dialogue with Canadians that the Government began in 2012 in its document, Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy.

I have asked Canadian departments and agencies to include in this year's Report a special “Feature Focus 2014” that outlines the Government's response to violent extremism and travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. More than a dozen departments and agencies have helped in preparing that response, reflecting the breadth and complexity of departmental and agency involvement with terrorism issues.

Violent extremism and extremist travellers are critical issues. Parliament enacted new tools to address these issues in the Combating Terrorism Act. The Government will continue to address these issues by working with our communities, law enforcement agencies, academics, the private sector and other individuals and groups in Canada.

Terrorism remains the leading threat to Canada's national security. Our Government will continue to take all appropriate action to counter terrorist threats to Canada, its citizens and its interests around the world.

The Honourable Steven Blaney
P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Executive Summary

Canadian “extremist travellers” have gone abroad to participate in terrorism-related activities.

The phenomenon of individuals leaving their countries of residence to engage in foreign conflicts is not new. Canada and many other countries have experienced this for decades. However, the need to address the threat these extremist travellers pose both to home countries and to the countries to which they travel has become more pressing with their participation in conflicts such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. As of early 2014, the Government was aware of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of terrorism-related activities. These included involvement in training, fundraising, promoting radical views and even planning terrorist violence. Some extremist travellers remain abroad. Others have returned to Canada, while still others are presumed dead.

Canada has seen a small but notable number of extremist travellers, but the large majority of extremist travellers originate from non-Western countries, particularly countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Regardless of where they originate, many of these individuals are exploiting conflicts to engage in terrorism-related activities. Syria has become the primary destination for these extremist travellers. Canadians were both perpetrators and victims of terrorist attacks in Africa in 2013. The threat from terrorists based in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains, but there has been a steady flow of extremist travellers leaving this region for other countries.

Terrorism continues to threaten Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests.

In 2013, Canada was affected by terrorism-related incidents that occurred both at home and abroad. Four individuals were arrested on terrorism-related charges in Canada in 2013. These cases are proceeding through the courts. Also, the involvement of individual Canadians in terrorism-related activity abroad prompted the Government to examine the evolving nature of the extremist traveller threat and the appropriate Government response. As a result, the 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada includes a Feature Focus on the Government's response to violent extremism and travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. It also shows how the 2012 document, Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy, helps ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

Responding to Violent Extremism and Travel Abroad for Terrorism-related Purposes.

The Government works closely with law enforcement partners to prevent violent extremism by building prevention capacity in local communities. Where appropriate, this includes targeted early intervention with individuals who have not yet crossed the threshold to violent extremist activity. For extremist travellers, a High Risk Travel Case Management Group examines individual cases to tailor the best response. In 2013, Parliament enacted legislation that created four new offences intended to deter travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. In the past year, the Government listed six entities under the Criminal Code as being associated with terrorism. The Government also engaged in a number of long-term projects such as the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security's dialogue on security-related matters, Canada's Multiculturalism Program, the Kanishka Project's support for academic research, and efforts to enhance border security through Canada's Beyond the Border Action Plan. The Government also worked with international partners to counter terrorism-related activity around the world, supporting a variety of capacity-building initiatives in a number of countries.

The Government will continue to take all appropriate action to counter terrorist threats to Canada, its citizens and its global interests.


Understanding how the global threat environment affects the terrorist threat to Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests enables the Government to counter these threats more effectively.

This document, the Government's 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, examines major international and domestic terrorism-related developments during 2013 and early 2014. It highlights two alleged terrorist plots that resulted in arrests in Canada. It also describes several cases where individuals left Canada to participate in terrorism-related activities abroad. These observations draw on consultations with non-government partners, including Canadian community leaders, academics and those in the private sector. In many cases, the 2014 Public Report explains further developments relating to issues discussed in the 2013 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada.

The 2014 Public Report also contains a Feature Focus detailing Government actions in 2013 to respond to violent extremism and travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes.

The 2014 Public Report represents the combined efforts of several Canadian federal departments and agencies. It fulfills a Government commitment made in the February 2012 document, Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy, to update Canadians on the terrorist threat. In accordance with their individual mandates, many departments and agencies also provide separate updates to Canadians on various aspects of the threat.

Terrorism Statistics for 2013
According to United States Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, more than 9,700 terrorist incidents in 93 countries were reported in 2013. These incidents claimed more than 18,000 lives. In addition, about 33,000 people were injured and nearly 3,000 were abducted or held hostage. Some 57 percent of all reported incidents occurred in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Canadian Definition of Terrorist Activity
The Criminal Code defines terrorist activity to include an act or omission undertaken, in or outside Canada, for a political, religious or ideological purpose, that is intended to intimidate the public with regard to its security, including its economic security, or to compel a person, government or organization (whether in or outside Canada) to do or refrain from doing any act, and that intentionally causes one of a number of specific forms of serious harm.

Terrorist Entities Graphic

Image Description

This graphic provides a map showing select terrorist entities listed by Canada. There are 53 terrorist entities in total and select terrorist entities have been organized by region of origin.

Asia (17 terrorist entities)
TALIBAN (listed in 2013) (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)
HAQQANI NETWORK  (listed in 2013) (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)

Africa (12 terrorist entities)
BOKO HARAM (listed in 2013) (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)
AL-MUWAQI'UN BIL DIMA (listed in 2013) (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)

Americas (6 terrorist entities)

Europe (3 terrorist entities)
CAUCASUS EMIRATE (listed in 2013)

Middle East (15 terrorist entitites)
JABHAT AL_NUSRA (listed in 2013)
AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)
AL-QAIDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA (Most Attacks Worldwide, 2013)

What is a terrorist “Listing” under the Criminal Code?
Listing an entity is a public means of identifying a group or an individual as being associated with terrorism. Listing carries significant consequences. A terrorist group is defined to include an entity that is listed under the Criminal Code. A listed entity's assets are frozen and may be subject to seizure, restraint or forfeiture. It is an offence for an individual to knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out terrorism-related activity. An individual who commits this crime outside Canada can be convicted if they are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or, if not the citizen of any state, they ordinarily reside in Canada. A complete list of listed entities can be found at www.publicsafety.gc.ca.

SOURCE: Government of Canada

Global Threat Graphic

Image Description

This graphic provides a geographic overview of the most attacks committed by terrorist entities worldwide, listed by the Government of Canada. This graphic also displays a bar graph that highlights terrorist attacks and casualties worldwide by month and a graphic display of tactics used in terrorist attacks worldwide.

Terrorist Attacks Worlwide, by Month
January 669
February 567
March 639
April 804
May 924
June 685
July 898
August 842
September 761
October 934
November 1007
December 977

Terrorist Casualties Worlwide, by Month
January 1022
February 991
March 1027
April 1123
May 1557
June 1542
July 1862
August 1918
September 2034
October 1639
November 1448
December 1728

Tactics Used in Terrorist Attacks Worldwide, 2013
Kidnapping (6%)
Armed Assault (23%)
Bombing/Explosion (57%)
Assassination (8%)
Facility Attack (6%)

BOKO HARAM (77 Attacks):
Based primarily in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram carried out a number of attacks in 2013 that were more lethal, in deaths per attack, than the global average, resulting in over a thousand deaths and significant destruction of property.

The former al-Qaida affiliate significantly increased the lethality, complexity and frequency of terrorist attacks in 2013, claiming more than 7, 800 lives, according to United Nations estimates.

TALIBAN (641 Attacks):
The Taliban continued to threaten the government of Afghanistan, conducting the largest number of terrorist attacks in 2013, also with the highest number of causalities.

Terrorist attacks decreased in 2013, in part due to the government of Colombia's counter-insurgency campaign and diplomatic steps to reach agreements on land reform and political participation.

This umbrella organization for pro-Taliban militant groups continued to mount attacks against both civilian and government of Pakistan targets in 2013.

Al-Qaida 's affiliate continued its campaign against the government of Yemen in 2013, including attacks against the Yemeni military and persistent efforts to target Western interests.

AL-SHABAAB (195 Attacks):
The organization conducted terrorist attacks in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya, aiming to undermine allied military support for the government of Somalia.

SOURCE: United States Department of State

Canada's Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre
Terrorism is a complex, multi-faceted global phenomenon that has serious repercussions, including loss of life and property. It has a negative political, economic, and social impact beyond any border, and countering it requires a coordinated and integrated approach. Canada's Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) is the Centre of Excellence in terrorism threat analysis for the Government of Canada. ITAC was created in 2004 pursuant to Securing an Open Society: Canada's National Security Policy in order to centralize and facilitate the integration of intelligence into comprehensive assessments of potential threats to Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests at home and abroad. The status and purpose of ITAC as a unifying body for terrorism threat analysis and assessments were reaffirmed in Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy.

ITAC brings together the knowledge and resources of partner federal departments and agencies in order for measures to be taken to prevent or mitigate terrorist threats. The Centre is also the Canadian focal point for international cooperation with similar terrorism assessment centres. The 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada draws extensively on the expertise of ITAC, as well as on contributions from other federal entities within the Canadian security and intelligence community.

Key Terrorism Developments

Canadian extremist travellers have gone abroad to participate in terrorism-related activities.

In the past year, considerable attention has been focused on individuals from Western countries who have travelled to areas of conflict. Some of these individuals have participated in terrorism-related activities. Like many countries, Canada has seen a small but notable number of individuals with Canadian connections travel abroad to take part in terrorism-related activities. These “extremist travellers” (sometimes also called “foreign fighters”) include Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others with a connection to Canada who hold violent extremist views.

The phenomenon of individuals travelling abroad to fight in foreign conflicts is not new. For decades, individuals around the world have travelled abroad to participate in foreign conflicts. Many never go home. Most are generally motivated by a belief that a conflict is justified on moral or religious grounds. In some cases, these individuals may have a family or ethnic tie to a conflict zone. In other instances, individuals are attracted to a violent cause by the rhetoric of charismatic leaders. They may also be attracted through the propaganda and the social networks that, in recent years, have become more accessible online. In 2013, greater media attention increased public awareness about extremist travellers. Canada has not escaped this phenomenon, particularly given the ease of travel from Canada to conflict zones. The need to address extremist travellers has become more pressing as these individuals participate in conflicts such as those in Syria, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the numbers fluctuate, as of early 2014 the Government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of supporting terrorism-related activities of various groups.

“As of early 2014, the Government knew of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of supporting terrorism-related activities.”

Extremists Graphic

Image Description

This graphic provides a geographic overview of extremist travelers with Canadian connections, displaying arrows coming from Canada and pointing to the five different countries: Algeria, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Somalia and Syria.

Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej were high school friends from London, Ontario. The two went to Morocco in 2011, and then onwards to Mauritania, Niger and Libya, where they allegedly trained under Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Both were killed as they took part in a January 2013 terrorist attack that killed 38 hostages at an Algerian gas plant near In Amenas.

Bulgaria / Lebanon
Hassan El Hajj Hassan is wanted by Bulgarian authorities in connection with a bomb attack on a bus that killed six people and injured 35 in July 2012. Hassan and two other suspects are at large and believed to be linked to Hizballah.

Andre Poulin subscribed to violent extremist views in 2008 while living in Timmins, Ontario. He arrived in Syria in 2012 and is presumed to have been killed fi­ghting at the al-Minakh air­field in August 2013.

Ali Mohamed Dirie was a former member of the “Toronto 18” previously imprisoned for plotting terrorist attacks in Ontario. Within a year of his release, he travelled to Syria and joined a terrorist group. He is presumed to be dead.

Damian Clairmont also known as Mustafa al-Gharib, subscribed to violent extremist views while based in Calgary, Alberta. He is presumed to have been killed in infi­ghting between terrorist groups in Syria.

Mahad Ali Dhore crossed into Somalia while visiting Kenya to join an al-Shabaab training camp. He is presumed to have been killed while helping conduct an April 2013 terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia

The Combating Terrorism Act
The Combating Terrorism Act came into force in July 2013. It created four new offences intended to prevent and deter persons from leaving Canada for certain terrorism-related purposes. An individual commits an offence by leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of:

The offences described in the first bullet above carry a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The remaining offences carry a maximum penalty of 14 years.

Extremist travellers involved in terrorism-related activity present multiple challenges.
Canadians who engage in terrorist activity abroad put lives at risk and tarnish Canada's reputation abroad. They may become involved in terrorism-related activities besides combat, including fundraising, propaganda, training and providing other forms of support to terrorist groups. They may return to Canada or other countries imbued with knowledge, skills and experience gained in terrorist operations and training camps. Not all extremist travellers who return to Canada represent a terrorist threat. However, some have the credibility to encourage and recruit aspiring violent extremists in Canada and it is possible that some returnees could plan and carry out terrorist attacks in Canada.

The Government is aware of about 80 individuals who have returned to Canada after travel abroad for a variety of suspected terrorism-related purposes. Those purposes varied widely. Some may have engaged in paramilitary activities. Others may have studied in extremist schools, raised money or otherwise supported terrorist groups. Some had their travel interrupted by financial issues, injuries or outside intervention and may plan to travel again. Some extremist travellers never achieved their goals and simply returned to Canada.

The Government has sought to limit travel abroad by violent extremists through the Combating Terrorism Act.

“The Government is aware of about 80 individuals who have returned to Canada after [extremist] travel abroad.”

Stopping Terrorists from Acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction
Canada is taking action to stop terrorists from acquiring even more devastating weapons than they already possess. In October 2013, the Government supported international efforts that forced Syria to begin dismantling its chemical weapons program and accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention. The Government also introduced the Nuclear Terrorism Act, which came into force in November 2013, creating four new Criminal Code offences relating to nuclear terrorism. The enactment of the Nuclear Terrorism Act enables Canada to ratify the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

State Supporters of Terrorism: Syria and Iran
In 2012, the Government listed both Syria and Iran under the State Immunity Act as state supporters of terrorism. A listed country loses certain legal immunities, allowing civil suits to be filed against it in Canadian courts for loss or damage resulting from its involvement in terrorism anywhere in the world. While Syria is currently embroiled in conflict, the government of Iran continues to provide state support to a variety of terrorist groups – in particular to Hamas and Hizballah. Hizballah provides the al-Assad regime with personnel to fight opposition forces in Syria, continues to pose a threat to regional stability and also attracts extremist travellers to its ranks. The government of Iran also provides direct financial and military support to the al-Assad regime, including the deployment of training forces and advisers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Qods Force to Syria.

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Jabhat al-Nusra
Jabhat al-Nusra is a Syria-based affiliate of al-Qaida whose fighters have gained a reputation as some of the most effective opposing the al-Assad regime. The group has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 terrorist attacks, including car bombs and suicide attacks that have killed scores of Syrian civilians. It has also conducted attacks in neighbouring Lebanon. Jabhat al-Nusra is one of several groups in Syria continuing to attract extremist travellers, including Westerners, to fight in the region.

Terrorist Event in Focus: Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula Plots
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has previously exploited the low cost of mounting attacks outside its base in Yemen, while the West incurs immense costs to react to such attacks. The group has claimed success for “failed” attacks, including plots in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Heightened security measures taken by various countries in August 2013, including the temporary closure of United States of America embassies around the world, were again claimed as a victory for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The group will remain persistent and creative in the means it uses, including plots against commercial aircraft, to attempt attacks on Western interests.

Syria is the primary destination for extremist travellers.

The conflict among the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, the armed opposition, and a variety of other factions remains a violent stalemate. The security and humanitarian situations in Syria and neighbouring countries continue to deteriorate due to the conflict. More than 160,000 people have died, millions have been displaced from their homes, and 3 million refugees have fled Syria to nearby countries that included Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Within Syria, the conflict has divided the population along sectarian lines, with all sides accusing the others of crimes and human rights violations. The conflict has heightened regional sectarian tensions and violence has spilled across the border into neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq. More than a hundred Lebanese citizens have been killed in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon as a result of violence largely driven by the Syrian conflict.

“The conflict [in Syria] has heightened regional sectarian tensions and violence has spilled across the border into neighbouring Lebanon and Iraq.”

Syria Iran Graphic

Image Description

A graphic of Iran, Syria and their neighbouring countries is provided.

The Government of Canada is supportive of a Syrian-led political transition and will continue to work with our allies to this end. To facilitate outreach to Syria's opposition, the Government has created the position of the Representative of Canada to the Syrian Opposition. The Representative, currently based in Istanbul, Turkey, engages with various Syrian opposition figures to advocate for a democratic future for Syria. However, the conflict is no longer simply one between a repressive al-Assad regime and moderate armed opposition groups. It now involves a complex mix of additional factions, including some organized and well-funded terrorist groups.

Syria is now a major theatre of operations for terrorists. As the conflict drags on, it is drawing extremist travellers from around the world. Most are young men coming from regions of North Africa and the Middle East, but a significant minority are travelling from Europe, Australia and North America. Some estimates place the number of foreigners in militant and terrorist groups in Syria at more than 6,000. The number of extremist travellers participating in the conflict is hard to determine, but is believed to be greater than the number that travelled to the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is of particular concern that parts of Syria are serving as a safe haven or training ground for terrorists. This may enhance their ability to attack neighbouring countries or Western interests.

The Government now knows of about 30 individuals with a Canadian connection in Syria who are suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activities. The Government is also aware of a number of individuals with a Canadian connection currently in countries surrounding Syria who have expressed their intention to travel to the conflict zone to engage in terrorism-related activities.

Extremist travellers will return to a number of countries, not just those in the West.
A minority of the extremist travellers active in Syria come from Western countries and may return to those countries after engaging in terrorism-related activities. However, the majority originate from non-Western countries, particularly countries in North Africa and the Middle East, and may return to those countries. Some extremist travellers returning to the West may pose a threat. The much greater number of experienced extremist travellers returning to the Middle East, Africa and Asia magnifies the threat to those regions.

A major concern is the movement into Syria of al-Qaida members who were previously active in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. These extremist travellers have become involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against the al-Assad regime. These al-Qaida members also train other extremists for possible operations in Western countries. All the groups mentioned here have engaged in violent terrorism-related activity. They are often seen as effective, giving them status and influence among other extremist travellers in Syria.

“The number of extremist travellers participating in the conflict [in Syria] ... is believed to be greater than the number that travelled to the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

Instability in Iraq
Iraq has seen a substantial increase in violence since the departure of international coalition forces in 2011. Recently released United Nations figures showed that civilian casualties in 2013 were the highest since 2008 and were continuing to rise. Terrorist attacks conducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), formerly al-Qaida in Iraq, occur frequently. As this Report was being prepared, violence was continuing to escalate as ISIL militants seized control of pockets of Iraqi territory. The activities of ISIL and rival Iraq-based militias were contributing to conflict on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border, fuelling sectarian rivalries and regional instability.

The threat from terrorists based in Afghanistan and Pakistan remains.

Afghanistan Pakistan Graphic

Image Description

A graphic of Afghanistan, Pakistan and their neighboring countries is provided.

The International Security Assistance Force is readying itself to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and the Afghan National Security Forces are assuming full responsibility for the security of the country. Multiple militant and terrorist groups, including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, have taken over rural areas as the international forces leave. Although largely focused on regional goals, terrorists in these areas could use them as a base to plan and carry out terrorist attacks against Western interests. This is especially true if eased counter-terrorism pressure from the West allows terrorist groups to regenerate. On the other hand, there has been a steady flow of extremist travellers, some experienced, leaving the Afghanistan-Pakistan region for other countries. For al-Qaida in particular, the loss of experienced members through travel abroad and through casualties has further reduced the terrorist group's already diminished capacity to conduct terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

“Multiple militant and terrorist groups, including the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, have taken over rural areas [of Afghanistan] as the international forces leave.”

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Taliban
In May 2013, the Government listed the Taliban as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. After the 2014 reduction of international forces in Afghanistan, the Taliban will remain a major insurgent threat to the stability of the country. Exploiting the porous border with Pakistan, the Taliban will continue to challenge the Afghan government's ability to govern, especially in southern and eastern regions of the country.

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Haqqani Network
In May 2013, the Government listed the Haqqani Network as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code. Operating in eastern Afghanistan and the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan, the Haqqani Network continues to present a serious threat to the Afghan government by providing fighters, weapons, explosives expertise and suicide bombers to the Afghan insurgency. Nominally part of the Taliban, the Haqqani Network remains a potent, well-organized terrorist group despite losing several senior leaders in the past year.

Terrorist violence in Pakistan continues to be widespread and claims the lives of several thousand people every year. Most attacks in 2013 were attributed to groups fighting against the government of Pakistan, particularly the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, tribal insurgents, and groups engaged primarily in sectarian violence, such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Pakistan has identified these groups as serious terrorist threats and conducts operations against those that seek to target the country's democratic institutions. Other groups such as al-Qaida, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are also able to use Pakistani territory as a base from which to plan and carry out terrorist attacks against regional and Western interests. The threat from terrorism both to Pakistan and to other countries from terrorists based in Pakistan will persist for the foreseeable future.

According to the United States Department of State, Afghanistan and Pakistan together suffered more than 3,000 terrorist attacks in 2013 that claimed over 5,000 lives. Both countries have achieved many successes in recent years, but several militant and terrorist groups will continue to operate in the region after the 2014 departure of international forces from Afghanistan. As such, threats will persist against Canada and Canadian interests in the region. The Government continues to work with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter terrorist threats.

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Boko Haram
Boko Haram, a name loosely meaning “Western education is sinful,” has mostly focused its attacks in northern Nigeria. Its goal is to establish a strict religious state in Nigeria. Canada listed Boko Haram as a terrorist entity in December 2013. To assist the investigation of the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls from a school in northern Nigeria, Canada provided technical support to the Nigerian government.

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Al-Muwaqi'un bil Dima
In 2012, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former commander of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, created al-Muwaqi'un bil Dima. The aim was to deter Western and African military intervention in northern Mali and impose strict religious law in North Africa. The group has carried out suicide bombings and attacked civilian facilities, including the January 2013 attack at an Algerian gas facility near In Amenas. The attack led to the deaths of 38 hostages and 29 terrorists, including 2 Canadian extremist travellers who took part in the attack. The Government listed al-Muwaqi'un bil Dima as a terrorist entity in November 2013.

Canadians have been both victims and perpetrators of terrorist attacks in Africa.

Since the beginning of the Arab Spring in December 2010, many regions of Africa have experienced varying degrees of political turmoil. In some cases, the climate of security has deteriorated as a result. Egypt and Tunisia, for example, face political, economic and security challenges as they undergo democratic transition. Libya continues to struggle with militant groups taking advantage of political and security instability to exercise control at the expense of a weakened central government. In the past year, democratic institutions have been restored in Mali. Still, tensions remain high as militant and terrorist groups maintain a presence in Northern Mali, despite an international military intervention in 2013.

Africa Graphic

Image Description

A graphic of Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula is provided.

Across the continent, a number of militant and terrorist groups continue to take advantage of Africa's political and security situation. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Sharia, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis are taking advantage of the limited security capacity of African countries. Egypt has seen a substantial increase in terrorism-related violence. Nigeria faces the threat posed by Boko Haram and its offshoot, Ansaru. Two Canadian extremist travellers died while participating in the January 2013 terrorist attack on an Algerian gas plant near In Amenas, Algeria.

Terrorism Event in Focus: Westgate Mall
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in which 68 people died and dozens were injured. Two Canadians, a businessman and a Government of Canada official, were killed. The attack was carried out by as few as four armed men and lasted for several days. The attack was intended to pressure the Kenyan government to withdraw its military forces from Somalia. It also signalled al-Shabaab's ongoing intention to conduct attacks outside of Somalia.

Kidnapping for Ransom
Canadians abroad are not immune to being kidnapped by terrorists for financial gain or for political or propaganda purposes. Ransom money is often used to help fund terrorism-related activities, including recruitment, arms procurement, training camps, terrorist attacks and furthering political agendas. The Government's approach to kidnapping respects firm principles: no policy changes, no prisoner exchanges, no immunity from prosecution and no ransom payments.

Al-Shabaab is the most prominent terrorist threat in eastern Africa. Faced with a series of significant defeats and territorial losses in Somalia, the group has shifted from a broader insurgency to a more targeted strategy of conducting terrorist attacks against the Somali government and its international supporters. In April 2013, the group attacked the Supreme Court of Somalia, killing more than 35 people and injuring dozens. A Canadian extremist traveller, Mahad Ali Dhore, is presumed to have died helping to conduct the attack. In September 2013, across the border in Nairobi, Kenya, al-Shabaab fighters carried out a small-arms attack against the Westgate Mall. Two Canadians were among the 68 victims. As recently as February 2014, another Canadian victim was killed in an al-Shabaab terrorist attack.

Africa-based terrorist groups are proliferating. Their growing interconnectivity and continuing desire to attack Western targets, coupled with the region's porous borders and limited state counter-terrorism capacity, are increasing the terrorism threat across the region.

“Across [Africa], a number of militant and terrorists groups continue to take advantage of Africa's political and security situation.”

Terrorist Entity Listed in 2013: Caucasus Emirate
The Government listed the Caucasus Emirate as a terrorist entity in December 2013. The Caucasus Emirate, or Imarat Kavkaz, is a terrorist network responsible for three suicide bombings that killed more than 40 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd in the months before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Dagestani branch of the Caucasus Emirate claimed responsibility for the attacks and also threatened to attack the Sochi Games.

A significant number of extremist travellers originate from Europe.

The terrorist threat to Europe varies by country. More than 150 terrorist attacks occurred in European Union member countries in 2013, including many conducted in connection with far right, far left, separatist, nationalist and other causes.

Of the more than 500 individuals arrested in European Union countries in 2013 for terrorism-related offences, a significant minority – over 200 – were arrested for religiously-inspired terrorism. Many of these arrests involved individuals or groups influenced by al-Qaida's violent ideology. Many European Union countries have challenges with groups that have been connected to radicalization, recruitment, fundraising and facilitation efforts. Several countries face an ongoing threat from organized groups, loose networks and individuals willing to move beyond support of terrorism-related activities to actual terrorist violence. In May 2013, for example, extremists armed with knives conducted terrorist attacks in London and Paris.

Europe and Canada face a common challenge of extremist travellers.
Many Europeans who have become radicalized to violence are fighting abroad as extremist travellers. Just as they attract extremist travellers from North America, conflicts in countries such as Syria, Mali, Somalia and Libya continue to draw European extremist travellers. In 2013, there were indications that violent ideologies spread by certain extremist groups contributed to the activities of European extremist travellers in Syria and other conflict zones. In particular, European officials have warned that the influx of these extremist travellers into Syria is increasing the threat of future terrorist attacks in Europe. This threat is becoming more pronounced as these individuals return to their countries of residence. In 2014, for example, an extremist traveller who returned from Syria was arrested for allegedly conducting an attack in Belgium that killed three people.

Europol estimates that between 1,200 and 2,000 European extremist travellers took part in the conflict in Syria in 2013. There appears to be an increase in extremist travellers. This suggests that the threat posed to Europe by returning extremist travellers may be more significant than the threat facing North America because greater numbers of extremist travellers are leaving, then returning to Europe, than are leaving and later returning to North America. This difference between Canada and Europe in numbers of extremist travellers can be attributed to a variety of factors. Regardless, Europe and Canada face a common, interconnected threat from extremist travellers. Canada and its European allies are also learning from each other's experiences with violent extremism and are working together towards solutions. Canadian and European authorities are cooperating to impede recruitment and fundraising networks, interrupt travel routes and pursue those who seek to radicalize others to violence.

Violent extremists pose a domestic terrorist threat in North America.

Canada, the United States of America and other countries remain focused on countering al-Qaida's efforts to encourage Western-based individuals to conduct terrorist attacks from within Western countries. To date, such attacks have been carried out by lone individuals or by small groups, both often encouraged by al-Qaida's violent ideology. The tragic case of the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing serves as a poignant reminder that terrorist attacks could still occur on this continent.

Two alleged terrorist plots within Canada resulted in arrests in 2013.
Canada remains at risk from violent extremists within Canada acting in small cells or as individuals. In 2013, four individuals were arrested on terrorism-related charges in Canada. All these arrests were coordinated by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSETs) led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). These incidents demonstrated the close and effective collaboration among the Government's security and law enforcement agencies. These cases are proceeding through the courts. Both alleged plots were detected sufficiently early that there was never a risk to the public.

A terrorist attack could still occur in Canada.
Global violent extremists, particularly al-Qaida, its affiliates and its sympathizers, have identified Canada as a target for terrorist attacks. Although al-Qaida itself has been weakened, it still plays a strategic and inspirational role among diffuse regional affiliates and potential lone actors. Al-Qaida remains a direct threat to Canada for the foreseeable future. Additional regional terrorist groups have sworn loyalty to al-Qaida, adopting its ideology and pursuing a capacity to conduct attacks in the West. Also, al-Qaida's advocacy of violence still resonates with some individuals, particularly those concerned about the conflict in Syria.

“Al-Qaida remains a direct threat to Canada for the foreseeable future.”

Terrorism Event in Focus: Boston Marathon Bombing
In April 2013, three people were killed and more than 200 were injured in Boston by two homemade bombs. The alleged perpetrators, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnayev, were brothers who had lived for several years in the Boston area. The explosions triggered a manhunt that led to the death of Tamerlan. Dzhokhar Tsarnayev is awaiting trial on a number of charges.

Terrorism Event in Focus: Project Smooth Arrests
In April 2013, Canadian authorities arrested two men and charged them with conspiring to attack a VIA Rail passenger train travelling between New York and Toronto. Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were charged with numerous offences, including conspiracy to murder for the benefit of a terrorist group, participating in a terrorist group, and conspiring to interfere with transportation facilities for the benefit of a terrorist group.

Terrorism Event in Focus: Project Souvenir Arrests
In July 2013, Canadian authorities arrested John Nuttall and Amanda Korody and charged them with conspiring to use improvised explosives built using pressure cookers to bomb the British Columbia Legislature Building during Canada Day festivities. They were also charged with facilitating terrorist activity and making or possessing explosives.

Gov Response Graphic

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This graphic provides a geographic overview of counter-terrorism capacity building programs and anti-crime capacity building programs funded by the Government of Canada.

Since 2011, the Canadian forces have supported exercise flintlock in Africa. This multinational training and mentorship program aims to develop and harmonize operational capacities, improve civilian-military cooperation and build stronger relationships.

Canada has provided training to Afghanistan's national security forces. Basic police training courses delivered foundational skills to enable forces to conduct operations consistent with international standards. A number of local instructors were certified to further train other Afghan authorities.

Since 2010, Canada has invested more than $17 million in Interpol, benefiting more than 3,000 law enforcement officials globally, providing them with technology, equipment and training. Regional operations were also supported in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Americas, resulting in arrests and seizures.

Counter-terrorism Capacity Building Program: The Program was created to help foreign states, though the provision of training, funding, equipment and technical and legal assistance, to prevent and respond to terrorism-related activities. Strengthening the capacity of other countries to confront terrorism-related activities in turn helps to reduce the threat to Canada.

A companion Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program provides similar assistance to countries struggling with other types of crime and violence.

Both programs are delivered via Canadian departments and agencies, multilateral institutions, and private and civil society organizations across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.

SOURCE: Government of Canada

“Radicalization to Violence”
Radicalization to violence is a process by which individuals are introduced to an ideology that encourages movement towards extreme views which, in turn, lead to violence. Radicalization to violence can occur anywhere: in religious institutions, schools, prisons, online and any other place where like-minded people come together. Mentors, ideologues and other influential relationships are major determinants of whether radicalization occurs.

Feature Focus 2014: Responding to Violent Extremism and Travel Abroad for Terrorism-related Purposes

The Government released Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy in February 2012 to explain Canada's national approach to countering terrorism. This single, comprehensive Strategy guides more than 20 federal departments and agencies to better Prevent, Detect, Deny and Respond to terrorist threats. Maintaining an approach that is flexible, forward-looking and adaptable to evolving threats is critical for countering terrorism within our borders. This approach is equally important for guiding the Government's response to extremist travellers who pursue terrorism-related activities elsewhere in the world.

Framework Graphic

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This graphic provides the framework for Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy.

It consists of four elements, Prevent, Detect, Deny, and Respond. Resilience is at the core of the four elements in the graphic.

The aim of the Counter-terrorism Strategy is to counter domestic and international terrorism in order to protect Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests.

The core principles of the Counter-terrorism Strategy are:

  1. Building resilience
  2. Terrorism is a crime and will be prosecuted
  3. Adherence to the rule of law
  4. Cooperation and partnerships
  5. Proportionate and measured response
  6. A flexible and forward-looking approach

Canadian security and law enforcement agencies have been successful to date in uncovering and disrupting alleged terrorist plots. However, a distinct challenge remains for the Government under the “Prevent” element of Canada's Strategy. The Prevent element seeks to prevent radicalization to violence from happening in the first place. It involves addressing the factors that motivate individuals to engage in terrorism-related activities, in turn reducing the risk that they will become extremist travellers. Building Resilience Against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy sets out basic principles underlying the Government's response to violent extremism.

The Government is committed under the “Prevent” element of Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy to building partnerships with Canadian communities over the long term. The focus of these partnerships is to develop resilience and foster critical thinking about extremist messaging, and to help devise effective means to intervene during the radicalization-to-violence process.

A comprehensive understanding of violent extremism by all key players, including community members, government and law enforcement and intelligence agencies, is the foundation of targeted, community-based intervention strategies.

Communities: Building Prevention Capacity
The means to help prevent violent extremism ultimately lie within communities. The process of radicalization to violence may be indiscernible to outsiders like law enforcement and government officials. As a result, family members, peers, religious and community figures, teachers and medical and social service providers are crucial partners in recognizing and responding to the subtle indicators of radicalization. Discussing the emotionally-charged issue of radicalization to violence with community members is bound to be difficult. It is, however, an essential conversation.

The approach to radicalization to violence must be grounded in prevention and should begin long before people decide to carry out violence. Building on existing trust and goodwill between Canadian communities and law enforcement agencies is essential for Canada to become more resilient against violent extremism.

This preventive approach involves a much broader constituency than just law enforcement and security agencies. As noted above, those in the community closest to people who are radicalizing to violence are best placed to identify changes in attitude and behaviour. This knowledge and the awareness within the community of the threat posed by violent extremism are the keys to prevention.

The Government will continue to assist communities to develop a better understanding of the threats posed by radicalization to violence. Outreach and engagement networks built up by local police services, by the RCMP and by advisory and liaison groups like the Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security are vital to strengthening this dialogue.

A major part of RCMP programming to counter violent extremism includes training and dialogue with communities. Public Safety Canada has also developed a series of narratives describing real-life radicalization-to-violence experiences. These narratives are being used to initiate conversations with community groups, discuss people's actual experiences with violent extremism and identify opportunities for individual and community intervention during the radicalization-to-violence process.

Countering Violent Extremism: Policing and Communities
The most effective response to criminal activity, including violent extremism, is often rooted in the partnerships that police officers build with the communities they serve. A community policing response to violent extremism does not replace investigation, arrest and prosecution. It does, however, facilitate a preventive approach that leaves investigation, arrest and prosecution for those situations that have deteriorated into criminal activity.

Community policing depends on knowledgeable police officers with a deep understanding of local dynamics that allows them to recognize the warning signs that often precede crime and to respond in a way that is appropriate for the community involved. Police officers and first responders must understand violent extremism, its indicators and its effects as comprehensively as they understand any other type of criminal behaviour.

The Government is helping to build awareness about violent extremism by promoting and enhancing training throughout the Canadian law enforcement community. This training draws on insights acquired through work with international partners.

The RCMP Counter-terrorism Information Officer initiative provides police officers and other first responders with terrorism awareness training. The training equips the recipients to educate others in their own agencies. Most important, the recipients of training build awareness and preparedness among their peers to enable them to identify national security threats and violent extremist attitudes as early as possible.

Stopping Radicalization to Violence: Targeted Intervention
Recognizing radicalization to violence is only useful if something effective can be done in response. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies play a role in that response, but their resources are limited. Investigation, arrest and prosecution are necessary when a crime has been committed, but the focus should be on preventive measures that avoid violence in the first place.

Early intervention is essential for prevention. Ideally, intervention programming is a responsibility shared between police and communities and is aimed at young people who are becoming radicalized but who have not yet crossed the threshold into violent extremist activity. Candidates for intervention are paired with community-based mentors and other resources for advice, support and counselling aimed at limiting the impact of violent extremist ideology.

The RCMP is developing an intervention program that mobilizes community resources and local law enforcement to recognize and address individuals at risk of becoming radicalized to violence. Programming will focus on those who show signs of becoming involved in violent extremist activity, but who have not yet progressed to the point where disruptive law enforcement action, including investigation, criminal charges and prosecution, is warranted.

Early intervention through a joint community/law enforcement response is no guarantee that a person will not radicalize to violence. However, early intervention is one constructive way to deter potential violent extremists from causing harm. As a result, it avoids the need for more traditional law enforcement actions such as investigations and prosecutions.

The Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security
The Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security brings together community leaders with extensive experience in social and cultural matters. The Roundtable was created in 2005 to engage the Government and Canadian communities in a long-term dialogue on security-related matters as they affect our diverse and pluralistic society. It meets three times a year and is particularly interested in radicalization to violence and its effects on Canada.

Supporting Understanding through Academic Research
The Kanishka Project has funded more than 30 major academic projects to improve understanding of terrorism in the Canadian context, how terrorism changes over time, and what the Government might do to counter terrorism. For example, in 2013, the Project supported the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. The Centre surveyed research about supporting survivors and other victims of terrorist acts and created a public website to provide practical information for emergency responders. (www.TerrorVictimResponse.ca)

Canada's Multiculturalism Program
Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Multiculturalism Program includes grants and contributions that support multi-year projects and community-based events. These promote intercultural and interfaith understanding, equal opportunity for individuals of all origins and institutional responsiveness to the needs of a pluralistic society. The Program promotes acceptance and integration into, and participation in, our society of Canadians from all ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds and acts to reduce isolation and exclusion.

International Cooperation to Counter Violent Extremism
Violent extremism is a long-term global challenge. Canadians can be influenced by violent extremist ideology from outside Canada, extending the reach of that ideology into Canada. Because of this, effective international cooperation is also key in countering violent extremism.

The Government actively participates in developing international standards and best practices to counter violent extremism. Canadian expertise contributed to the newly-released community policing manual for countering violent extremism developed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Within the Global Counterterrorism Forum, Canada co-chairs the Sahel Region Capacity-Building Working Group, which has identified community engagement to counter violent extremism as a priority. Also, within the Countering Violent Extremism Working Group of the Forum, Canada leads a project on “measuring the effectiveness of countering violent extremism programming.” This project seeks to develop knowledge and explore best practices to ensure that programs have a positive impact. Canada also welcomed the launch of the Hedayah Center, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, based in the United Arab Emirates.

Canada's security is inextricably linked with that of other countries. When other countries lack resources or expertise to prevent or respond to terrorism-related activity, the security of Canadians both at home and abroad is at risk.

Taking Action against Extremist Travellers
Preventing violent extremism helps reduce the chances of Canadians becoming extremist travellers. But once an individual crosses the threshold to supporting terrorism-related activity, the Government takes action to “Detect” and “Deny” such activity.

Tackling the challenge posed by extremist travellers became a higher profile issue for law enforcement, security intelligence and border officials in 2013. The Combating Terrorism Act created new offences relating to leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purpose of committing terrorism-related offences outside Canada. As this Report was being prepared, Mohamed Hersi became the first Canadian to be convicted of an attempt to travel abroad to join a terrorist group, al-Shabaab in Somalia. The Government continues to respond with other measures against extremist travel abroad.

The RCMP leads a High Risk Travel Case Management Group that involves a number of Government departments and agencies working closely with law enforcement. The Group examines cases of extremist travellers to tailor the best response to the most pressing cases – a response that is timely, effective and accountable. These responses comply with a framework that guides law enforcement and Government action. The framework identifies a continuum of actions that may be taken for any of several purposes: detecting extremist travellers seeking to leave Canada to participate in terrorism-related activities; disrupting attempts to travel or terrorism-related activities when they do occur; and responding to extremist travellers who return to Canada after participating in terrorism-related activities abroad.

Cooperation and coordination with Canada's international allies are also vital, particularly in protecting Canada's border. Canada and the United States of America, for example, made significant strides in 2013 to meet commitments they made under the Beyond the Border Action Plan to interrupt extremist travel as early as possible. The Action Plan committed both countries to establish and coordinate entry-exit information systems at their land borders and also to work towards implementing a system to collect exit information about individuals crossing borders by air. The information generated by this program will improve border management capacity and also support national security investigations. These measures will improve the screening of passengers boarding aircraft and the ability of law enforcement partners to conduct timely investigations into extremist travel abroad.

Working with International Organizations to Counter Terrorism
The Government works on terrorism issues with many organizations, including the United Nations, NATO, the G-7, the Global Counterterrorism Forum and Interpol. As a founding member of the inter-governmental body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), for example, Canada acts to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In
June 2013, Canada published an Action Plan on Transparency of Corporations and Trusts, doing its part to fulfill a commitment made by G-7 countries to prevent the use of corporations and trusts for illicit purposes.

Countering the Financing of Terrorism-related Activities
Terrorists raise funds from legal and illegal sources. In 2013, to help prevent this, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) released more than 200 financial intelligence disclosures to authorities relating to terrorist financing. Law enforcement, national security and other financial intelligence groups use these disclosures to limit the funding of terrorism-related activities.

Protecting Canada's Borders
Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a foreign national or permanent resident may be declared inadmissible to Canada on security grounds for involvement in terrorism or other serious offences. The Government of Canada makes it a priority to prevent high-risk individuals who pose a threat to Canada's national security from entering the country. In 2013, the Canada Border Services Agency denied entry to a number of inadmissible individuals and removed 11 individuals from Canada due to their association with terrorism.

Conclusion: Building Resilience Against Terrorism

The Government will continue to take all appropriate action to counter threats to Canada, Canadians and Canadian interests, whether those threats occur at home or abroad. This includes addressing extremist travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. The Government is responding through a principled approach that respects Canadians' right to travel.

Travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes is a crime and will be prosecuted, but it cannot be prevented by security and law enforcement actions alone. The Government is committed to preventive efforts to address violent extremism before Canadians radicalize to violence and cross the threshold into terrorism-related activity, and before they decide to become extremist travellers. Working with communities, the Government is contributing to efforts to build prevention capacity, support training and awareness and intervene to impede the radicalization-to-violence process.

Terrorism is still the leading threat to Canada's national security, but by adhering to our principled approach, firmly rooted in respect for the rule of law and human rights, Canada will remain resilient against this threat.

“Canadians reject the use of terrorism in all its forms, no matter where it takes place.”

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