Source: Israel Defense Forces (IDF)

Canada’s terrorist threat assessment agency is warning that the Israel-Hamas war could motivate extremists to attack crowd events and religious and community centres within Canada. 

Following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Integrated Terrorist Assessment Centre issued a number of intelligence briefs that warned the government about potential attacks at cultural centres, protests, diplomatic posts “or other symbols of Israeli or Palestinian interests in Canada.” 

The agency is made up of members of Canada’s security and intelligence community, designated to assess potential threats in Canada.

The agency suggested that such an attack would most likely be carried out by a “radicalized lone actor,” according to briefings obtained by Global News.

“It is possible that ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremists and lone actors may be triggered by events and mobilize to violence and conduct a mass casualty attack at large gatherings,” wrote the agency in a brief.

A youth was arrested last December by Ottawa police and charged with plotting a terrorist attack against the Jewish community. More charges were filed against the suspect last Thursday including conspiracy to commit murder at the direction of a terrorist group. The suspect cannot be named because he is a minor. 

Additional charges were laid against him for knowingly facilitating terrorist activity “by making available and exchanging instructional material and propaganda.”

A second youth has also been charged with murder conspiracy for a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity and trying to acquire a prohibited firearm for terrorist purposes.

No further details of the alleged terror plot have been disclosed, however, police did confirm that the Jewish community was the target of the plot. 

The court case received a publication ban but multiple sources told Global News that the group in question was ISIS.

Events like Santa Claus parades and Remembrance Day have been examined for potential threats by ITAC since the Oct. 7 attack. 

The agency said attacks of that nature are becoming “increasingly likely” in Canada as a result of the growing conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

Antisemitic hate crimes have gone up by 182% since 2015, long before the attack last fall, and spiked by over 500% in 2022, according to the ITAC briefings. 

ITAC noted that while protests around the conflict in the Middle East have remained largely peaceful thus far, “this does not preclude opportunistic threat actors from joining events and engaging in violent behaviour.”

“As the conflict intensifies, both religiously motivated violent extremism (RMVE) and ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) adherents could see symbols of the Israeli government, including embassies and consulates, or Jewish community facilities as desirable targets,” it said.

“Individuals in Canada have previously expressed support for Hamas, and RMVE adherents abroad have called for lone-actor attacks targeting Jewish people as a means to support Palestinians.”

Eight “possible targets” of antisemitic attacks in Canada were listed in the briefings, however, the agency said that mosques and Islamic community centres were at risk also, along with Palestinian consulates and businesses as well.  

“Rhetoric about Palestinians could inspire a lone wolf actor to conduct an attack targeting Palestinians or symbolic locations associated with the Palestinian Authority,” ITAC stated.

“Ongoing tensions will likely increase reports of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and other Muslim communities.”

The federal government offered $10 million to aid “at risk” groups so that they could install security equipment at their places of worship and community centres.