International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group
August 27, 2021
ICLMG & Noor Cultural Centre: Islamophobia in Canada
Submission to the National Action Summit on Islamophobia signed by 138 organizations and individuals
Islamophobia Is 22/07/2021 - National security agencies have refused to heed the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s call to collect and analyze race-disaggregated data on their operations, so that the impacts of security practices and policies on particular communities can be assessed. “Not only is there no accountability framework in place, national security organizations are not required to collect and report data on human rights performance in practice,” the Commission observes.

The absence of information transparency is exacerbated by the absence of robust oversight, review, and redress mechanisms for victims of rights-abusive national security practices. The recently-created National Security Intelligence and Review Agency cannot make binding recommendations or compel remedies for complainants; lacks a mandate to accept complaints regarding agencies that play key roles in national security, notably the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA); and members are appointed by the same government whose activities are being reviewed.

Even without comprehensive data disclosure from agencies, however, studies by academics and civil rights organizations have repeatedly documented the disproportionate impact of national security measures – including no-fly lists, terrorist entities listings, counter-radicalization programs, security agent visitations, mass surveillance, and “terrorism” prosecutions – on Muslim communities. Laws that expand state national security powers without adequate transparency and oversight (like the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2015 and the National Security Act, 2017) therefore disproportionately threaten the fundamental rights and freedoms of Muslims – including the rights to privacy and a fair trial, and freedoms of expression, religion, and assembly. Read more - Lire plus

Taxpayers’ ombudsperson investigates CRA targeting of Muslim-led charities
The Canadian Press 06/08/2021 - Taxpayers’ ombudsperson François Boileau will investigate the concerns of Muslim charities and other charities led by people of colour about being inappropriately targeted for audits. Boileau said Friday he is committing to examining the issues raised by the charities and he will work with these organizations to make sure they receive high quality services from the Canada Revenue Agency. “Before we take action, we need to take the time to listen and deepen our knowledge of the issues,” he said in a release. His office will ask the charities to share their experiences with the agency and will examine all the publicly available documentation and information obtained from the agency related to the issue. The ombudsperson will also examine the revenue agency’s efforts to root out discrimination. Boileau will provide National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier with an update on his investigation by Jan. 1, 2022.

Tim McSorley, the national co-ordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, said the treatment of Muslim charities is a governmentwide issue, but it has implications when it comes to the revenue agency and how it audits and sanctions these groups. “We have offered to discuss our research and provide any support as needed to the Office of the Taxpayers’ Ombudsperson for its review of this issue, and we look forward to seeing the results,” McSorley said in an emailed statement. McSorley said the ombudsperson should examine the concerns of Muslim charities with “a systemic review in order to examine the underlying issues that have led to these prejudiced audits.” He said the review should be transparent and the office of the ombudsperson should get access to all the needed information and documents.

“The review (should) examine the issues in full, including surveillance of the sector, the selection process for audits, how audits are carried out, how sanctions are determined, and how the CRA, particularly the Review and Analysis Division, works with other government departments, especially national security and intelligence agencies,” McSorley said. He also said the ombudsperson should review how Canada’s anti-terrorism and anti-radicalization policies have impacted the treatment of Muslim charities by the revenue agency. “These policies are at the heart of the problem. They are the drivers behind the prejudiced auditing of Muslim charities, and must be a key part of this review,” he said.
“Our one primary concern is that the ombudsperson’s mandate may be too narrow to examine this system in its entirety.” Read more - Lire plus

Andrew Mitrovica: The Canadian prime minister must put a stop to the repeated victimisation of a Muslim Canadian citizen by French courts
Al Jazeera 08/08/2021 - In the jaundiced judgement of a succession of Canadian governments, “Muslim” is just another six-letter word for “guilty”. If you question the truth of that blunt indictment, then let me introduce Hassan Diab. [...]

How and when Diab’s long, surreal odyssey from sociology professor to accused terrorist ends is a tangible test of whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is serious about confronting Islamophobia however and wherever it manifests itself or if he will continue to spout pleasant-sounding bromides while another Muslim-Canadian’s life is rendered cheap and disposable. Mr Prime Minister, one-day “summit” to combat Islamophobia will not do. And there is no doubt that Trudeau has the power to end Diab’s earthly hell – now. Trudeau has the power to right the litany of wrongs visited on Diab and end the grievous pain, uncertainty and turmoil he, his wife and children have weathered with remarkable grace and patience. Trudeau has the power finally to put the fate of a persecuted Muslim Canadian ahead of the egregious misconduct of French prosecutors [...]

Diab was released and returned to Canada in January 2818 after French magistrates deemed, in effect, the case closed because of the lack of evidence. But, in an unprecedented step, France’s highest court ruled this past May that prosecutors can continue to try to indict Diab, raising the astonishing prospect he could face extradition again following a trial in absentia. It is hard not to view France’s relentless pursuit of Diab as anything other than a politically motivated vendetta and a cynical sop to the ugly, visceral current of Islamophobia coursing its malignant way throughout a supposedly enlightened society.

Diab is the proverbial sacrificial lamb that French authorities are seized with a maniacal determination to hoist, whatever the nefarious and duplicitous means, on a petard and call it justice. Prime Minister Trudeau’s challenge is clear: prove through his deeds, not carefully calibrated words or PR stunts, that Canada will no longer tolerate the inhumane hounding of Diab and make certain that an innocent Muslim Canadian will not be abandoned once more to satisfy France’s corrosive quest for vengeance. Read more - Lire plus

Canada set to buy armed drones in 2022-23 that the military says are capable of “pinpoint strikes”
PBI 29/07/2021 - On July 27, Daniel Hale, a 33-year-old former United States Air Force signals intelligence analyst who helped locate targets for drone strikes when he was deployed in Afghanistan, was sentenced to 45 months in prison for leaking classified information in 2013-14 exposing the U.S. drone and targeted assassination program.

The Intercept has reported: “By some estimates, U.S. drone operations abroad, conducted by both the military and the CIA, have killed between 9,000 and 17,000 people since 2004, including as many as 2,200 children and multiple U.S. citizens.” Hale has stated that the U.S. military has a practice of labeling all individuals killed in drone strikes as “enemies killed in action” unless proven otherwise. He highlighted: “With drone warfare, sometimes nine out of 10 people killed are innocent.” Echoing this, Edward Snowden tweeted: “His crime was telling this truth: 90% of those killed by US drones are bystanders, not the intended targets.” Hale also reportedly helped expose that “nearly half [more than 40 per cent] of the people on the U.S. government’s widely shared database of terrorist suspects are not connected to any known terrorist group.”

Meanwhile, the Canadian government is set to request bids this fall from two consortiums for a contract of up to $5 billion to build armed drones for the Canadian military. It is believed the air force intends to purchase 12 armed drones. In August 2020, Vice reported: “In 2015, not long after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected, Ottawa signalled interest in purchasing armed drones.” In May, the Canadian Press reported: “The government and military say the unmanned aircraft will be used for surveillance and intelligence gathering as well as delivering pinpoint strikes from the air on enemy forces in places where the use of force has been approved.” The Calgary Herald has also noted: “The contract is expected to be awarded in 2022-23, with the first system delivery anticipated in 2024-25.” The Canadian Press add: “[There are] plans to establish a central hub in Ottawa where pilots will fly the drones.” Read more - Lire plus

Erin O’Toole vows to increase criminal punishment for people who disrupt pipelines and railways
The Narwhal 20/08/2021 - Erin O’Toole’s Conservative Party is proposing to amend Canada’s Criminal Code to stop protests that disrupt key infrastructure such as pipelines or railways — a federal election proposal that many say will unfairly target Indigenous land defenders. The proposal is repeated twice in the party’s 160-page platform released Tuesday. It appears once in a section on energy and again in a section about public safety. The paragraph proposes passing the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to prevent people from blocking key infrastructure” by amending Canada’s Criminal Code to offer more severe punishment to demonstrators.

The proposal mentions the 2020 pipeline and railway demonstrations that occurred in opposition to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline through the Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation territory in British Columbia, land that is unceded. It notes these events “demonstrated the importance — and vulnerability — of the infrastructure that ties our country again.” Under the proposed Conservative law, protesters could be punished “by either summary conviction of indictment, depending upon the severity of the crime.” “Peaceful protest is a fundamental right in Canada, but respect for the rule of law means that illegal blockades that shut down critical infrastructure, threaten access to vital supplies, or endanger lives cannot be tolerated,” the Conservative proposal reads. The platform doesn’t provide any details about what would be included in a proposed law, how broad it would be or how the Criminal Code would be amended. The platform also fails to explain why a new law would be needed to stop what the party describes as an “illegal blockade” or how such a law could be effective.

After this story was published, a reporter asked O’Toole about the promise at an Aug. 20 campaign stop in Winnipeg. “Critical pieces of infrastructure like rail and like bridges should not be illegally blockaded to make a political point,” O’Toole said. “In fact, when that happens it hurts Indigenous communities the most, many of whom are developing resources and for the first time in generations creating wealth and jobs for Indigenous communities.” [...] Alberta passed a similar law last year; it is now facing a constitutional challenge. Eighteen U.S. states have also passed similar laws since 2016. Indigenous land defenders and those standing in solidarity with them have been arrested during protests against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project and more. In one case in Washington state, a woman who disrupted a railway line is facing terror charges. 

There is a broad recognition that most protests around infrastructure development in Canada are rooted in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, who don’t consent to some of these projects and aren’t properly consulted. Emmett Macfarlane, a political science professor at the University of Waterloo who specializes in constitutional law, questioned how this proposed law would work in tandem with Indigenous land rights and the state’s duty to consult on environmental projects. [...] Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation urged the Conservatives to reconsider its proposal because “the more the state tries to repress defenders and people supporting Indigenous people, the more pushback they’ll get.” “If you look around the world right now — at all of these climate catastrophes that are happening — people are becoming more and more aware and people are becoming more and more determined to save what we have left, because our lives depend on it,” Adam said. “And no amount of state repression is going to be able to stop that.” Read more - Lire plus

Tyler Shipley: Canada hasn’t reckoned with its bloody legacy in Afghanistan
The Breach 17/08/2021 - The world has watched images of thousands of Afghans rushing onto the tarmac of Kabul’s international airport, some desperately clinging to airplanes, to escape the capture of their country by the Taliban. Western-backed security forces have collapsed as the Taliban has swept the country, as the last US troops begin their final withdrawal from the country after a 20 year military occupation. Discussion in the Canadian media has been filled with hand-wringing by pundits who have bemoaned the “failure” of Canada’s efforts to transform the country. But the attempts by the media and political elite to sell the war in Afghanistan as a mission of peace and human rights, now and over the last two decades, has always been a lie.

The war lasted from 2001 to 2014, making it Canada’s longest foreign war. Canadian casualties were relatively few: 159 soldiers were killed and around 2000 injured. By contrast, over 100,000 Afghans were killed as a direct result of the conflict, a substantial portion of them civilians. If one considers the consequences of the war—destruction of crops and infrastructure, disruptions to hospitals and health care, poverty and malnutrition—that number could be as high as 500,000. A decade into the war, 70 percent of Afghans were living in extreme poverty. Violence and instability were far worse than they had been before the invasion. The Canadian media regularly reassured Canadians that they were in Afghanistan to promote peace, to stabilize a “failed” state and to promote human rights, especially for women. That Afghan women’s associations rejected this rationale was an uncomfortable disruption to the story. They were typically ignored.

The “Afghan mission,” as the Canadian elite typically called it, was launched in response to the attacks against symbolic centres of US power on September 11, 2001, the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The architect of the attacks was Osama Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi militant who had once been on the CIA payroll but had turned on his one-time sponsors, resenting the overwhelming US presence in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia. When US President George W. Bush declared the War on Terror, which would come to shape early 21st-century politics, Canada was quick to get on board, joining the invasion of Afghanistan almost immediately. No Afghans had participated in the 9/11 attacks, but US officials claimed that Bin Laden’s organization, Al-Qaeda, had used a network of caves in that country as its base of operations. Accordingly, Afghanistan was to be subject to invasion and occupation with the ostensible aim of capturing Bin Laden, routing his organization and discouraging other countries from “harbouring terrorists.”
The occupation was a catastrophe for average Afghans. The establishment of the puppet government headed up by Hamid Karzai was a boon to capital from the Anglosphere, as US, British and Canadian companies secured lucrative contracts for construction, reconstruction, mining, telecommunications, energy and other industries. Among the Canadian companies that made major profits in Afghanistan after 2001 were Lockheed Martin Canada, Canaccord Financial and SRK Consulting, to say nothing of the massive engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, which seemed to be linked to nearly every Canadian adventure abroad and was briefly embarrassed in the late 2010s by a fraud and bribery scandal. Afghanistan’s resource wealth was estimated at some $3 trillion, and the most notable Canadian investor in the country was Kilo Goldmines, awarded a contract for a massive iron mining deposit at Hajigak.

And while the war brought windfall profits to a range of Canadian companies, its aims were broader than simply to bulge the pockets of Canadian millionaires. The war in Afghanistan – like that in Iraq – was about establishing the architecture of the American Empire in the 21st century. US capital needed a world in which resistance was defeated and demoralized, where local client states could be counted upon to maintain the legal and political conditions ideal for exploitation of labour and resources and where there was a multi-level security apparatus to protect the flow of profits from any possible threats. 

These threats could be anti-capitalist movements, but they could also take the form of general instability – which can upset the logistics of capital accumulation – or interference from rival blocs of capital. Afghanistan, located in a position of strategic importance for the transportation of fossil fuels, could have easily fallen under the sway of America’s capitalist competitors – like Iran, Russia and China – and the war was one way of ensuring America’s continued dominance in the region. Canada is deeply invested in the maintenance of the American capitalist empire. Canada’s foreign policy across a century and a half had been aimed at protecting and promoting the British and US empires, with a keen understanding that Canada could carve out space for its own ruling classes’ prosperity under that umbrella. Read more - Lire plus

The Secrets They Keep: Why Canada Fears Afghan Interpreters
Homes Not Bombs 26/08/2021 - When the first planeload of former Afghan interpreters disembarked at Toronto’s airport the evening of August 4, they were greeted by a number of Trudeau cabinet ministers. Conspicuously absent from the welcome party was War Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Sajjan’s absence was telling for a government so focused on photo-ops celebrating its alleged benefaction. During the following weeks, as thousands more have desperately sought refugee flights to Canada, there are quiet whispers that could point to why Sajjan was, and remains, far away from the cameras with each new arrival. Those whispers could be crystallized in two words. “Everybody knew.”

What does everyone know? Afghan refugees in Canada are not likely to go on record at this time, but a number have shared with me what is common knowledge both in their diasporic communities and back home. In essence, among the individuals Canada is bringing here – those who worked so closely with Canadian Forces during the occupation of that country – there will be interpreters, fixers, drivers, liaisons, and others who were “in the room” or knew what was going on there when Canadians were knowingly transferring farmers, shopkeepers, teachers, and countless other Afghan civilians into the hands of torturers.

Of course, Canada does have a responsibility to evacuate as many of its former Afghan contractors and their families as possible. These are individuals who were placed in an impossible situation: to feed their families, they took on relatively well-paying, high-risk  gigs facilitating the work of a brutal NATO occupation force which killed, tortured, and injured hundreds of thousands of people. While many Canadian veterans have led a valiant struggle for well over a decade to help get these individuals and their families out, that campaign does not appear to have received one iota of support from the generals, other military brass and politicians who have a vested interest in keeping out potential witnesses to Canadian war crimes in Afghanistan.

It has been heartbreaking watching the crush at the Kabul airport. But few seem to recall that this last-minute dash – as the Taliban attempt to take control of Afghanistan – could have been prevented if there had been a serious commitment to the lives of those in Afghanistan who enabled the Canadian military occupation. Read more - Lire plus

Spencer Ackerman: Today’s Crisis in Kabul Is Direct Result of Decades of U.S. War & Destabilization
Democracy Now! 20/08/2021 - AMY GOODMAN: According to the Costs of War Project, the U.S. has spent over $2.2 trillion in Afghanistan and Pakistan. By one count, at least 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have died in the fighting. Afghanistan is now facing a massive humanitarian crisis, and the Taliban is back in power. While Mullah Mohammed Omar died in 2013, his brother-in-law, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, now appears set to become Afghanistan’s next president. Well, today we’re spending the hour with the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Spencer Ackerman, author of the new book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump. The book is based in part on his reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo.

Spencer, it’s great to have you back. Congratulations on your book. So, we’re talking to you in the midst of this chaos in Kabul right now as thousands of Afghans, Americans and other nationals are attempting to flee Afghanistan. The Taliban have taken over. But we chose to begin back 20 years ago — I’m not going to say “at the beginning,” because it goes far back from there. But talk about this moment as the U.S. began bombing and occupying Afghanistan, when the Taliban basically said they would surrender and also give Osama bin Laden over. The U.S. rejected. President Bush rejected both.

SPENCER ACKERMAN: This was a central aspect of the war on terror at its inception and a foreshadowing of what its implications would be. Once we accept the frame that Bush offered — war on terror — we were then locked into a struggle not just against al-Qaeda, the entity culpable for the 9/11 attacks, but a much broader struggle against an enemy that a president could redefine at will and leave in the popular imagination with something along the lines of a civilizational challenge to America for the future, one in which America itself was in the balance. Now, let’s look, in particular, at that moment in Kandahar. The United States’s Northern Alliance allies had routed the Taliban from Kabul. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had fallen, after about five, six years in power, and they recognized, after a last stand they tried to put on in Kandahar didn’t go the way they expected, that the end was near for them. And then they offered to Hamid Karzai, the U.S.’s appointed leader for a post-Taliban Afghanistan, that as long as Mullah Omar could live in some kind of house arrest, basically not be killed, not be put up on trial, they were prepared to entertain negotiations for what their role might be in a post-Taliban Afghanistan — basically, a political settlement at that point.

Karzai, for all his flaws that the United States would both contribute to and then criticize him for over the coming years, nevertheless knew Afghan history and recognized that unless there was some kind of political future for the Taliban, the Taliban would opt for a violent future. And they had a proven capacity not just to wage an insurgency, but to triumph in one. And Karzai took the deal. It was the Bush administration, the United States, that said such a deal was unacceptable — not to the Afghans, but unacceptable to the United States, that now took it on itself, as it has so often throughout its history in so many parts of the world, to tell Afghans the way their country was about to be. And everything that happened since, the 20 years of war since, has contributed on, if not quite a straight line, a kind of nausea-inducing glide path to the abject horror we’re seeing at the Kabul airport with people desperate to flee, desperate to — so desperate as to grab onto C-17 cargo planes and fall to their deaths. This is not the alternative to fighting in Afghanistan; this is the result of fighting in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: So, if you could take it back even farther, to the U.S.-backed mujahideen, to the U.S.-backed Osama bin Laden, and talk about what happened when the U.S. decided to fund the mujahideen in fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and then the mujahideen turning their — setting, literally, their gun sights, their U.S. weapons, on the United States, and how the Taliban came out of that? Read more - Lire plus

The FBI’s Domestic “War on Terror” Is an Authoritarian Power Grab
Jacobin 28/07/2021 - There are many ways to undermine democracy. In the United States, one of the most persistent threats to democratic rights has been the hoarding of power by largely unaccountable security forces that, in a single-minded drive to protect what they define as national security, have tended to run roughshod over civil liberties and treat activists and dissidents as criminals.

It was the case in the early twentieth century, when the FBI rounded up radicals, foreigners, and draft-evaders. It was the case mid-century, when the COINTELPRO program harassed Matin Luther King Jr and other civil rights protesters. It was the case under George W. Bush, when a newly launched “war on terror” became an excuse to go after law-abiding Muslims and government critics. And it was the case just last year, as a panoply of federal agencies were used by a desperate president Trump to go after protestersjournalists, and immigration lawyers, to name a few.

All of this is particularly relevant in light of a major new investigation by Buzzfeed published last week, examining the details of last year’s highly publicized FBI thwarting of a plot by a Michigan militia to kidnap the state’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. At the time, I made a basic point about the whole situation: we should be careful about simply accepting the FBI’s account of the events at face value, not least because the sparse details included in its affidavit called to mind an old and controversial Bureau practice. That would be the FBI’s use of informants and undercover agents to effectively manufacture their own terrorist plots — typically by entrapping down-on-their-luck or mentally unwell Muslim men — which they then foiled and publicized, thereby justifying more money, resources, and powers for the “war on terror.”

While at the time I cautioned we didn’t have enough information yet to make a definitive call either way, the extensive reporting done by Buzzfeed all but confirms this was the case. According to the outlet, FBI informants “had a hand in nearly every aspect of the alleged plot, starting with its inception,” from organizing and funding nationwide meetings where those involved in the eventual plot first met, to supplying, encouraging, and even helping lead the entire affair. Buzzfeed reporters Jessica Garrison and Ken Bensinger previously reported that the Bureau used a whopping twelve informants in the case, double the number of actual plotters charged. [...]

Even news outlets that were well aware of the FBI’s history of doing this exact thing with Islamic terrorist plots opted for sensationalistic coverage of the kidnapping scheme, uncritically reproducing the FBI’s preferred portrayal of the events. This plot was then, post-January 6, often cited together with the Capitol riot as a dramatic, visceral example of the growing threat of Far Right terrorism that required the failed and abuse-filled “war on terror” to be expanded to the home front. Speaking of January 6, there remain serious questions about law enforcement agencies’ conduct on that day. The security and intelligence failure which was the only reason the “Stop the Steal” protest was able to get out of hand and charge into the Capitol still hasn’t been adequately explained. [I]t points to a classic national security dynamic: agencies overzealously prosecuting national security threats, or royally screwing up, and instead of admitting to mistakes, using the incidents to justify more power and resources for themselves.

Whether it’s a conscious strategy isn’t clear, but it’s a plain fact that national security agencies are now increasingly leaning on right-wing terrorists as the go-to justification for the same demands they were making when Islamic terror was the horror of the day, from internet censorship, to weakening encryption. In the process, they’ve tapped into a more liberal-minded audience that has switched its position on all these issues now that the ostensible targets have changed. What’s particularly frustrating is that we were all just handed a walking, talking cautionary tale about the perils of this sort of thing in the form of Donald Trump. The tail-end of Trump’s presidency showed exactly how dangerous a sprawling national security apparatus could be in the wrong hands, and yet not even a year later, liberals are pushing to vest the federal government with even more authoritarian powers, ones that will be handed down to the next extreme Republican who wins the presidency… who very well might be Donald Trump. Meanwhile, already the FBI has used the Capitol riot as ajustification to go after left-wing protesters and dissidents, a sure sign of what’s to come, as Biden’s domestic “war on terror” strategy has made clear.

While right-wing mobs and white supremacists are nothing to scoff at, the potential for American fascism has always been most rooted in those institutions of authority that prize “law and order” and property rights over justice and civil liberties, the very same ones we watched last year brutalizing unarmed protesters and journalistskidnapping people off the street, and turning American cities into foreign war zones — and who are still attacking nonviolent activists without a care in the world. The Left should be at the front lines opposing a startling push to feed them more power and resources. Instead, far too many are silent, or even cheering it on. Read more - Lire plus

The Most High-Profile Al Qaeda Plot Foiled After 9/11 was an FBI Scam
The Intercept 14/08/2021 - The biggest Al Qaeda plot the FBI claimed to have foiled in the years following the 9/11 attacks involved no weapons, no plot, and no Al Qaeda. Instead, the vague, implausible threat by a group of construction workers in Florida to blow up U.S. buildings, including Chicago’s Sears Tower, was mostly the making of the FBI, whose undercover operatives sought out the men, promised them money, and coached them over months to implicate themselves in a conspiracy to commit violent acts they never actually intended or had the means to carry out.

The “Liberty City Seven” case — known by its connection to the poor, violence-ridden Miami neighborhood where the men involved lived — was the most high-profile FBI investigation of a supposed terrorist cell after the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. It came as the bureau, which had failed to act on intelligence it had received before 9/11, faced enormous pressure to predict and stop the next attack, setting off its transformation, in the words of former Deputy Director John Pistole, “from reactive crime-solving agency to preventative national security agency.”

The ordeal of the seven Black men, most of them Haitian American, who were manipulated by two paid FBI informants into pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda is recounted in a new Frontline documentary, “In the Shadow of 9/11,” by British director Dan Reed. “It was kind of really absurd, almost unbelievable,” said Reed, who has previously directed documentaries about terror attacks in Moscow and Mumbai. “I didn’t really understand how the Liberty City guys could have got themselves in this predicament.”

The story of the seven men, five of whom were sentenced to a cumulative 43 years in federal prison in connection to the case, is a largely forgotten tale about the lengths to which government agencies were empowered to go in the panicked aftermath of 9/11 and about the absurdities the U.S. criminal justice apparatus sold to the public in the name of national security. The case is indicative of how quickly the so-called war on terror morphed into a battle to shape a narrative: that there was a real threat — and that the U.S. government was winning.

The case set the stage for hundreds of FBI sting operations in the following years, as the bureau continued to frame individuals who were often poor, credulous, and had dubious ability to independently plan any attacks. In doing so, the agency leaned on a sprawling surveillance apparatus set up after 9/11 and used constitutionally protected speech as a basis for monitoring people, even as bureau officials regularly denied doing so. FBI agents relied heavily on well-paid informants operating with little accountability. And they expanded the stings to an ever-growing list of supposed threats: not only foreign-inspired ideologies but also domestic ones, like that posed by what the FBI called “black identity extremism.”

As The Intercept has detailed in the “Trial and Terror” database, most of the nearly 1,000 people the U.S. has prosecuted for terrorism since 9/11 never came close to committing an act of violence. Like the Liberty City Seven, most had no connection to terrorist groups and many were set up in FBI stings. Those cases were not only unnecessary, colossal wastes of investigative and prosecutorial resources that destroyed people’s lives, but they also distorted the American public’s understanding of security threats after 9/11. “What terrorists want to do is spread terror, they want to make people afraid that there will be more terror attacks,” said Reed. “And when the government goes in and essentially makes terrorists that way, then that’s achieving the terrorists’ aims. It’s making the American public more afraid.” Read more - Lire plus
Spyware scandal: UN experts call for moratorium on sale of ‘life threatening’ surveillance tech
OHCHR 12/08/2021 - UN human rights experts* today called on all States to impose a global moratorium on the sale and transfer of surveillance technology until they have put in place robust regulations that guarantee its use in compliance with international human rights standards. “It is highly dangerous and irresponsible to allow the surveillance technology and trade sector to operate as a human rights-free zone,” the experts warned.

“We are deeply concerned that highly sophisticated intrusive tools are being used to monitor, intimidate and silence human rights defenders, journalists and political opponents,” the experts said. “Such practices violate the rights to freedom of expression, privacy and liberty, possibly endanger the lives of hundreds of individuals, imperil media freedom, and undermine democracy, peace, security and international cooperation.”
Two years ago the then UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression published a report on the dangerous impact of surveillance technology on human rights and recommended an immediate moratorium on its sale and transfer until international regulations incorporating human rights safeguards were adopted. The international community failed to heed his call.

On 18 July 2021, Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International exposed the widespread surveillance of the mobile devices of hundreds of journalists, human rights defenders and political leaders, using the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. The NSO Group promptly rejected allegations concerning its involvement in these unlawful practices. Read more - Lire plus

We need more protection from government surveillance — not less
Politico 27/07/2021 - In their opinion piece “The last refuge of the criminal: Encrypted smartphones” (July 26), Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, and Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., district attorney of New York County, made an extraordinary bid to undermine encryption, barely a week after the Pegasus scandal rocked the globe and exposed the perils of government surveillance facilitated by tech companies.

The headline itself will be particularly jarring to the hundreds of journalists and human rights defenders currently in detention all around the world. Their “crime”? Defending the rights of others and standing up for democracy. In Turkey, to cite one example, many have gone to prison simply for using encrypted messaging services — an act in itself deemed criminal by the authorities. As we saw with Pegasus, Europe is no exception to this trend, with three Hungarian investigative journalists targeted.

Human rights defenders and journalists are not the only groups for whom encryption is essential. Members of the LGBTQ+ community depend on end-to-end encryption to help ensure their privacy and safety. Domestic violence survivors rely on end-to-end encryption tools to provide a secure channel to make plans and communicate with trusted individuals. Encryption helps prevent spies, criminals and hostile governments from accessing and exploiting confidential communications; stealing personal, financial and other types of data; penetrating computer systems and databases and causing wide-scale, systemic disruptions to economies, infrastructure and security.

The claim that the authors support “strong encryption, just not unregulated encryption” is unfortunately misleading. As any technologist or engineer will confirm, communications are either end-to-end encrypted, or they are not. This is a question of computer science. “Regulated encryption” is simply a euphemism for government backdoors into our communications. Backdoors undermine the security of communications, leaving them open and vulnerable to attacks from malevolent actors. There is no such thing as a backdoor for only the good guys. Even if there was, the Pegasus scandal is a reminder that not all governments are “good” and that “good governments” can act badly. Read more - Lire plus

Two Hong Kong activists convicted on security law charge
Al Jazeera 19/08/2021 - Two Hong Kong activists, accused of being part of a group that campaigned for international sanctions against China, have pleaded guilty under the territory’s national security law in a case linked to jailed pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai. Democracy activist Andy Li, 31, and paralegal Chan Tsz-wah, 29, admitted to a charge of “colluding with foreign forces to endanger China’s national security” on Thursday. Prosecutors said they were part of a group that organised the publishing of advertisements and articles in overseas newspapers calling for sanctions.
Both had been held in custody ahead of their plea. Li was previously jailed in China as one of a group of 12 people intercepted by mainland authorities in August 2020 on a boat believed to be en route to Taiwan.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last year following months of mass protests in 2019 against a proposed – and later scrapped – extradition law and evolved into calls for safeguarding democracy. More than 130 people, including many of the city’s best-known democracy advocates, have since been arrested under the law. The court heard Li was instructed by Lai, a prominent China critic who is in prison for illegal assembly charges and faces his own national security trial, to help lobby for sanctions against Hong Kong and China. High Court Judge Alex Lee adjourned the court until January 3, 2022.

“I agree to the facts and I would like to say sorry,” Li told the court after the prosecutor read out a long list of the facts of the case. Prosecutors dropped two other charges against him following his guilty plea. Chan was also convicted on Thursday and is due to return to court in January. Both men face potential life terms. Authorities have accused 73-year-old Lai and a network of supporters of breaking the security law by supporting international sanctions against China over its crackdown in Hong Kong. Lai’s popular newspaper Apple Daily closed down in June after authorities used the security law to freeze its assets, and detained senior members of staff. Read more - Lire plus

France Adopts Laws to Combat Terrorism, but Critics Call Them Overreaching
The New York Times 23/07/2021 - French lawmakers have adopted two bills the government says will strengthen its ability to fight terrorism and Islamist extremism following a series of attacks that have hardened feelings of insecurity ahead of next year’s presidential election. Debate on the bills, adopted Thursday and Friday, had been pushed out of the headlines by a flare-up of the Covid-19 pandemic, but critics say they curtail civil liberties and extend police powers to a worrying degree.
One of the new laws gives France’s security services more tools to keep track of suspected terrorists and surveil them online; it was adopted late Thursday by the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, by a vote of 108 to 20.

The other, passed on Friday by the same chamber by a vote of 49 to 19, aims to combat extremist ideas at every level of French society. Among a range of steps, it toughens conditions for home-schooling, tightens rules for associations seeking state subsidies, and gives the authorities new powers to close places of worship seen as condoning hateful or violent ideas. Both measures had been pushed by President Emmanuel Macron and his government as necessary responses to a persistent threat posed by Islamist extremism against France’s ideals, especially secularism, and its security. [...]

Human rights groups and critics on the left say that the measures are heavy-handed and that Mr. Macron’s government has shifted toward increasingly repressive policies.
Anne-Sophie Simpere, an advocate for Amnesty International, said that the antiterrorism law, like others before it, was too broad and too vague, raising worries it could be misapplied. “Often one of the government’s arguments is that these restrictive measures were used reasonably,” she said. “But these tools are here to stay, regardless of which government is in power, and there is a lot of room for interpretation.” The measure on Islamist extremism had been bitterly debated in Parliament over the past few months, especially in the Senate, the upper house that is dominated by the right. There, lawmakers voted on a flurry of amendments that critics said were patently anti-Muslim or xenophobic but did not figure in the final version of the bill. Those proposals had included a ban on veils for parents accompanying children on school outings.

The antiterrorism law enshrines and extends measures that were first introduced on an experimental basis in a sweeping 2017 counterterrorism bill. Among other things, it grants the security services the authority to surveil and restrict the movements of people who had been imprisoned for terrorism for an extended period after their release. The law also allows the security services to use computer algorithms that automatically process data from phones and web addresses to detect potential suspects. The law on Islamist extremism is wide ranging, with a raft of measures that seek to root out what the government sees as the sources of extremism in every corner of French society. Critics like Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the head of the far-left France Unbowed party, say instead that the steps are cover for “anti-Muslim” bias. Read more - Lire plus
Canada violating international law by selling arms to Saudis: Report
Al Jazeera 11/08/2021 - Canada is violating international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, according to a new report by rights groups Amnesty International Canada and Project Ploughshares, which are urging Ottawa to suspend all arms exports to Riyadh. Released on Wednesday, the report, titled ‘No Credible Evidence’: Canada’s Flawed Analysis of Arms Exports to Saudi Arabia, accuses Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government of violating the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), an international agreement that Canada became a party to in 2019.

Canadian weapons transfers to the Gulf kingdom could be used to commit or facilitate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, the rights groups found, particularly in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. “It has been established through investigations and expert reports that Canadian weapons exports to [Saudi Arabia] are contrary to Canada’s legal obligations under the ATT,” the report reads. Read more - Lire plus
Jeudi, 9 septembre, 2021, 18h à 20h HE sur Zoom

Le 11 septembre 2001. Une date fatidique qui a changé nos sociétés profondément. S’il est bien un événement qui démontre que la peur peut justifier toutes sortes de dérives liberticides et discriminatoires, c’est bien celui-là.

Panélistes :
✦ Silviana Cocan, chargée de cours et chercheuse postdoctorale à la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Montréal
✦ Stéphane Leman-Langlois, professeur titulaire de criminologie, École de travail social et de criminologie de l'Université Laval
✦ Tim McSorley, coordonnateur national de la Coalition pour la surveillance internationale des libertés civiles (CSILC)
Zoom link to event:

Azeezah Kanji is a legal academic, writer, and Director of Programming at Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto. Her work focuses on racism, law, and social justice. Azeezah received her JD from University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and LLM specializing in Islamic Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Join Azeezah in conversation with Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. This is a free event and no registration is required.

Co-sponsors: Edmonton Public Library, Milton Public Library, Thunder Bay Public Library, Toronto Public Library, Vancouver Public Library. Please contact if you require accommodation to ensure inclusion in this event.
NEW Candidates' Outreach Campaign
The Justice for Hassan Diab Support Committee is launching a major campaign of outreach to federal candidates. We are asking them to commit to the following:
- Agree to help in whatever ways possible to end Hassan’s persecution;
- Work to ensure that Hassan will never face a second extradition; and
- Support the suspension of the Canada/France extradition treaty in light of the failure of the French justice system to protect Hassan’s fundamental rights.

Let them know if you would be interested in having a Support Committee member accompany you (virtually or otherwise) to any meeting you are successful in arranging. Click below for more details and helpful documents such as an Outreach strategy document and an Informational kit to be shared with candidates.
NEW China: Free Xinjiang Detainees
Since 2017, it is estimated that 1 million or more from predominantly Muslim ethnic groups have been detained by the Chinese government in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. They are taken to “education” centres or internment camps and to prison for reasons including being an “untrustworthy” person; living or travelling abroad; having too many children; wearing religious clothing; or having WhatsApp on their phone.

The evidence we have collected shows that the Chinese government has committed at least the crimes against humanity of imprisonment, torture and persecution against Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim ethnic minorities. The Chinese government must immediately release all people detained in the camps and in prisons, and dismantle the internment camp system.
NEW Never Forget: 9/11 and the 20 Year War on Terror
Sat September 11, at 3pm EDT

The world changed on September 11th, 2001. The almost 3,000 deaths of September 11th became hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of deaths from wars the US launched in retaliation. Tens of millions lost their homes. Join CODEPINK and Massachusetts Peace Action as we reflect on the lessons of 9/11 and the lessons of the 20 year Global War on Terror. We’ll hear testimonials from: Medea Benjamin, Danny Sjursen, Assal Rad, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, Matthew Hoh, Vijay Prashad, Kevin Danaher and more.
NEW Tell Apple: Don’t Scan Our Phones
Apple has abandoned its once-famous commitment to security and privacy. The next version of iOS will contain software that scans users’ photos and messages. Under pressure from U.S. law enforcement, Apple has put a backdoor into their encryption system.

It will spur governments around the world to ask for more surveillance and censorship abilities than they already have.

Sign EFF's petition and tell Apple to stop its plan to scan our phones. Users need to speak up say this violation of our privacy is wrong.
Save Abdo from deportation
Abdelrahman El Mady is a father, a husband, a human rights activist and a refugee. He escaped persecution in his home country of Egypt, hoping to find safety in Canada.

Instead he faced profiling and Islamophobia at the hands of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA has deemed him inadmissible and is now trying to deport him to Egypt.

The Canadian government must hold the CBSA accountable, offer Abdo protection from the risks of detention and torture in Egypt, and reunite him with his wife and children in Canada.
NEW Tell PM Trudeau: No New Fighter Jets!
The Canadian government has launched a competition for 88 new fighter jets, for a starting price of $19 billion (and a cost of at least $77B over the lifespan of the jets). This is the second most expensive procurement in Canadian history.

This purchase is planned for early 2022. It's crucial that the government hears from all of us, now!

Send a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, National Defence Minister Sajjan, Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne, and all Members of Parliament.

Protect our rights from facial recognition!
ICLMG - Facial recognition surveillance is invasive and inaccurate. This unregulated tech poses a threat to the fundamental rights of people across Canada. Federal intelligence agencies refuse to disclose whether they use facial recognition technology. The RCMP has admitted (after lying about it) to using facial recognition for 18 years without regulation, let alone a public debate regarding whether it should have been allowed in the first place.
Send a message to Prime Minister Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Bill Blair calling for a ban now.

CSIS is NOT above the law!
Two recent court decisions revealed the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) engaged in potentially illegal activities and lied to the courts. This is unacceptable, especially given that this is not the first time these serious problems have been raised. CSIS cannot be allowed to act as though they are above the law.

Send a message to the Public Safety Minister demanding that he take action to put an end to this abuse of power and hold those CSIS officers involved accountable. Your message will also be sent to your MP and to Minister of Justice David Lametti.
Call on Justin Trudeau to ensure justice for Abousfian Abdelrazik
In September 2003, Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik was arrested in Sudan, while he was back in the country visiting his ailing mother. Over the next three years he was imprisoned for nearly 20 months and was held under house arrest for 12 months. He was denied a lawyer, and was never charged or brought before a judge. During that time he was badly tortured in three different prisons. Not only did Canada fail to take steps to protect him, CSIS officials frequently obstructed efforts to secure his release.
Tell Transport Minister to cancel Canada's drone contract now!
Canada’s Transportation Ministry recently approved a $36M contract for drone technology from Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons company. The money will purchase a “civilian” version of Elbit’s lethal military drone, the same one which was used to kill civilians during Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2014.
Click below to message the Transport Minister, the Prime Minister, federal political leaders, and your MP.
Stop CSIS from targeting everyday citizens & community groups
A recent report revealed that CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, collected over 8,000 pages of documents, spying on citizens like you, people who exercise their democratic rights by attending a community meeting at a local church or taking peaceful action for what they believe in. And CSIS shared this info with Big Oil corporations. Sign this petition to tell the govt to stop using taxpayer money to unconstitutionally spy on Canadians part of peaceful community groups.
All-in-one action page: Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture
Call PM Trudeau, write a letter to Public Safety Minister & your MP, and sign Sophie Harkat's petition to stop the deportation of Moe Harkat.

If sent back to Algeria, Moe faces detention, torture and death.

No one should be deported to torture. Ever.
Reunite Ayub, Khalil, and Salahidin with their families
Ayub Mohammed, Salahidin Abdulahad, and Khalil Mamut are 3 Uyghur men who fled China's persecution. They were sold by bounty hunters to the US military in 2001 and taken with 19 other Uyghurs to Guantanamo.

Despite being exonerated in 2003, they were kept in Guantanamo for years. Now in forced exile, their families are here in Canada, and their kids growing up without their fathers.

Despite posing no threat to Canadian national security, these men have been waiting over 5 years to reunite with their families.

Take action to reunite them!
Call on China to allow reunion of Uyghur families
Many Uyghur parents overseas have had to leave one or more children in the care of family members in Xinjiang. Some parents have since learned their children were taken to state-run “orphan camps” or boarding schools after the relatives taking care of them had been detained.
The mass detention campaign in Xinjiang has prevented Uyghur parents from returning to China to take care of their children themselves.

Sign the petition and call on China's President to ensure that children are allowed to leave China to be reunited as promptly as possible with their parents and siblings already living abroad, if that is preferred by them.
China: Free Canadian Huseyin Celil
The Chinese authorities accused Huseyin of offences related to his activities in support of Uighur rights. They held Huseyin in a secret place. They gave him no access to a lawyer, to his family, or to Canadian officials. They threatened him and forced him to sign a confession. They refused to recognize Huseyin’s status as a Canadian citizen, and they did not allow Canadian officials to attend his trial. It was not conducted fairly, and resulted in a sentence of life in prison in China. His life sentence was reduced to 20 years in February 2016. Huseyin has spent much of his time in solitary confinement. He lacks healthy food and is in poor health. Kamila needs her husband, and the boys need their father back.
Canada must act to end Islamophobia in Xinjiang, China
There is credible evidence that up to one million Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other mainly Muslim groups in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are being detained in secret internment camps. Detainees are brainwashed, tortured and are forced to renounce their religion and culture.

And send a message to Chrystia Freeland demanding that Canada actively support an independent and unrestricted international fact-finding initiative to Xinjiang.

Protect Encryption in Canada
Our ability to use the Internet safely, securely and privately is under threat. Canada wants to create 'back doors' into encryption like some of our partner countries in the Five Eyes Alliance have already done.

This weakens Internet safety for all of us. If we don’t act, Canada could be next.

We need a policy that explicitly protects our right to encryption now.
Environmental defenders are not terrorists!
We, the undersigned environmental and climate activists from the Philippines and the international community, urge Filipino public authorities to undertake preventive interventions against the continued red-tagging and the possible escalation of reprisals against environmental defenders.

We urge legislators to declare red-tagging as a crime punishable by law for curtailing constitutionally-guaranteed free speech and other civil liberties.
January - June 2021
What we've been up to so far in 2021:

  • We called on the government to not expand anti-terror laws to fight racism
  • We met with many MPs, agencies, policy staff from the Offices of the Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Justice, etc.
  • We published a report exposing CRA's Prejudiced Audits against Muslim Charities
  • We continue to call for Justice for Dr Hassan Diab and his family!
  • We were featured in 85+ news media articles, op-eds and podcasts
  • We co-organized and presented in various online events
  • We published op-eds, articles & statements ...and much more! More details

During the second half of the year, we will organize activities around the 20th "anniversary" of the beginning of the so-called "War on Terror" and the rushed adoption of Canada's Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, as well as the problematic laws passed and human rights abuses inflicted since in the name of national security.
And we will continue fighting:
  • against facial recognition technology, governments' attacks on encryption, and online mass surveillance
  • for a review mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency
  • to abolish security certificates and end deportation to torture
  • to repeal the Canadian No Fly List
  • for justice for Hassan Diab & the reform of the Extradition Act Read more

Les opinions exprimées ne reflètent pas nécessairement les positions de la CSILC - The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the positions of ICLMG.
to our amazing supporters!
We would like to thank all our member organizations, and the hundreds of people who have supported us over the years, including on Patreon! As a reward, we are listing below our patrons who give $10 or more per month (and wanted to be listed) directly in the News Digest. Without all of you, our work wouldn't be possible!

Mary Ann Higgs
Kevin Malseed
Brian Murphy
Colin Stuart
Bob Thomson
James Turk
John & Rosemary Williams
Jo Wood
The late Bob Stevenson

Nous tenons à remercier nos organisations membres ainsi que les centaines de personnes qui ont soutenu notre travail à travers les années, y compris sur Patreon! En récompense, nous nommons ci-dessus nos mécènes qui donnent 10$ ou plus par mois et voulaient être mentionné.es directement dans la Revue de l'actualité. Sans vous tous et toutes, notre travail ne serait pas possible!