‘Khalistani extremism a concern’, Canada lists threat for first time
For the first time in the tenure of the Justin Trudeau government, Canada has listed Khalistani extremism among the terror threats facing the country.
It was described as a matter of “concern” in the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada, submitted by public safety minister Ralph Goodale, who also launched the national strategy on countering radicalisation to violence.
While Canada's threat environment remains stable, the principal challenge comes from individuals and groups inspired by violent ideology propounded by Sunni extremist groups such as Daesh (Islamic Sstate) or al-Qaeda, the report said.
It added, “Furthermore, Shia and Sikh (Khalistani) extremism also remain of concern because while their attacks in Canada have been extremely limited, some Canadians continue to support these extremist groups, including through financing.”
This is the first time Khalistani extremism was mentioned in the public report since its inception in 2013.
In his foreword to the report, Goodale noted, “Canada is known internationally as a welcoming and peaceful nation. But we are also resolute in our determination to reject and combat violent extremism in all forms. Put simply, violence and threat of violence have no place in Canadian society. Stopping and eradicating this is a top priority of the government.”
Significantly, Khalistani extremism was given a separate section in the report, along with Sunni Islamist, Right-Wing, Shia extremism, and Canadian extremist travellers, or “individuals suspected of travelling abroad to engage in extremist activity”.
This last segment remains of particular concern to Canada, and the report said, “This year, as with the last, approximately 190 extremist travellers with a nexus to Canada are currently abroad, including Syria and Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North and East Africa.”
In the reference to Khalistani extremism, the report stated, “Some individuals in Canada continue to support Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements.” It mentioned that violent activities in support of Khalistan had “fallen since their height during the 1982-1993 period when individuals and groups conducted numerous terrorist attacks”.
It referred to the 1985 terrorist bombing of Air India flight 182, the Kanishka,which claimed 331 lives, and described it as “ the deadliest terrorist plot ever launched in Canada”.
Blandly acknowledging a reality in the country at this time, the report said, “ While attacks around the world in support of this movement have declined, support for the extreme ideologies of such groups remains.”
It also pointed out that two Khalistani groups, Babbar Khalsa International and the International Sikh Youth Federation, remain listed terrorist entities under the country's Criminal Code.