Security experts think odds of attack in Canada are low
Published Tuesday, November 17, 2015 2:51PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 17, 2015 7:23PM EST
Security experts meeting in Montreal say the odds of a terrorist attack happening in Canada are low, and the odds of a terrorist sneaking into Canada by posing as a refugee are lower still.
Former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya said the fears many Canadians are raising about inadvertently admitting terrorists to Canada through the refugee resettlement process are largely unfounded.
He pointed out that Canada and Europe are very different territories, and that geography makes the risk of a terrorist entering the country difficult.
"It's very easy currently to cross -- easy, relatively easy to cross the Mediterranean and get access to the shores of Europe," said Juneau-Katsuya.
Refugees coming to Canada will go through a three-part screening process that begins with a United Nations group, the High Commission for Refugees, selecting suitable candidates to be admitted.
"The second screening will take place with the public servant on the ground who will be reviewing the information and maybe interviewing some of the families. We are also selecting families, not single men, necessarily," said Juneau-Katsuya.
CSIS will then conduct a third screening of refugee candidates before they are admitted to Canada.
Policing, not profiling
There are roughly 11,000 people on a terrorism watch list in France, while in Canada the number is just 5,000.
When it comes to fighting terrorism in Canada, the job falls mainly to police forces.
Police officers speaking at the conference said so far terrorists acting in Canada have been 'lone wolves' acting alone, and as a consequence have been very difficult to detect.
A member of the Montreal police department said while many parts of the world use profiling to identify threats, Montreal officers try to avoid doing so because ultimately it backfires.
The officer said the force believes profiling leads to marginalizing cultural communities and then creates attitudes among youth that lead to radicalization.
An RCMP officer pointed out that believing radical thoughts is not a crime, nor is supporting ISIS ideology. What is a crime is acting on that ideology and committing a violet act.
Juneau-Katsuya said last week's attack in Paris showed that terrorists are learning from previous actions, and are working together, although he does not believe any cells are currently operating in Canada.
However he said that Islamic State, also known as Daesh and ISIS, is only choosing soft targets.