Mosque attack pushes Canada up global terrorism ranking

Published Dec. 5, 2018 2:04 p.m. ET
People hold pictures of the victims at a vigil to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting, in Quebec City, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

An attack on a mosque in Quebec City, which left six people dead, has pushed Canada up to its highest place ever on a global ranking of terrorist activity.

The newest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, which was released Wednesday, lists Canada as having the 57th-highest level of terrorist activity in the world, up nine places from its position one year earlier.

The index is compiled by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace based on five years’ worth of data from 163 countries representing 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.

Canada’s previous peak position had been 58th, which it reached in 2009. This year’s ranking was obtained despite the country falling below the global average in each of the criteria used in the ranking: number of terrorist incidents, deaths attributable to terrorism, injuries attributable to terrorism and property damage attributable to terrorism.

“Canada experienced six terror-related deaths in 2017, all of which were the result of an armed assault at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City by a right-wing extremist,” the report reads.

Alexandre Bissonnette has pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting. The Crown has asked for him to receive six consecutive life sentences, or 150 years, which would be the longest criminal sentence in Canadian history.

Bissonnette told police after his arrest that he “lost it” after hearing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledge support for refugees and went to the mosque intending to kill people, believing he could save “200 or 300” lives by doing so.

The report warned of a rise in terrorist activity by “white power extremists” as an emerging threat to North America.

Iraq topped this year’s index with an overall score of 9.75, followed by Afghanistan and Nigeria. The U.S. ranked 20th and the U.K. 28th, with scores of 6.07 and 5.61 respectively. Canada’s score of 3.53 left it sandwiched between Mexico and Chile.

Twenty-six of the 163 countries in the index did not record any terrorist attacks over the five-year period, including Portugal, Slovenia, North Korea and Cuba.

On a worldwide basis, deaths attributable to terrorism peaked in 2014 and have fallen by 44 per cent since then.

According to the report, the drop is largely attributable to the decline of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as fewer attacks by the Taliban and Boko Haram. ISIS remains the world’s deadliest terrorist group, and is in the midst of redirecting its efforts into North and sub-Saharan Africa as well as Southeast Asia.

There were 280 terrorist attacks and 370 deaths attributable to terrorism in North America between 2002 and 2017. Europe recorded numbers at about 10 times those levels, while the Middle East saw more than 91,000 attacks and 33,000 deaths over the same time period.

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