Facebook  Instagram  Twitter  Web  YouTube

View as Webpage


International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

November 20, 2021

Sarah Mushtaq: The Liberal government must rid the country of systemic Islamophobia


Policy Options 08/11/2021 - Over the course of the federal election, the Canadian Muslim Public Affairs Council (CMPAC) engaged with Muslim Canadians to better understand the community’s views on party commitments. The strongest critique expressed during CMPAC’s consultations is one of frustration over the lack of specific commitments by every federal party during the election. During the election, a National Action Plan on Combating Hate (part of a revised antiracism strategy) was promised by the Liberal Party as a way to incorporate findings from the Islamophobia summit by 2022. The Muslim community had hoped the federal government would commit to the creation of an office on Islamophobia to spearhead this endeavour. The federal government has an urgent role to play in combatting Islamophobia in this country. As part of the National Summit on Islamophobia, the prime minister said “there’s no question that there is work to be done within government to dismantle systemic racism and Islamophobia.” Prime Minister Trudeau continued, “As many of you have pointed out, part of the path forward must be a public service that is inclusive rather than just diverse. And the voices of all those with lived experiences and expertise on Islamophobia must be at the centre of our work.” [...]

The International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the University of Toronto’s Institute of Islamic Studies released independent studies revealing clear evidence of systematic bias and prejudice in the federal government’s auditing and revocation of Muslim charities. Both investigations contextualized this bias within Canada’s national security agencies and policies that disproportionately and unfairly targeted Muslim-led organizations. This was the concern cited most by community members. In response, in August 2021 following the National Action Summit, the Liberal government announced a limited-scope review by the CRA Ombudsperson. This is not enough. As the government considers how to address this issue, it should consider these recommendations made by the charity sector:

1. An immediate moratorium on targeted audits of Muslim charities by the CRA’s Revenue and Analysis Division, pending a comprehensive review. Trudeau employed this solution in his response to the CRA’s political activity audits of environmental charities.

2. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international body of which Canada is a member, is currently reviewing the unintended targeting and consequences for charities as a result of the FATF’s risk-based approach and policies. Canada should do the same. Finance Canada should re-evaluate its National Risk Assessment, which has elements of systemic racism and bias toward Muslim charities.

Its officers have broad authority to search, question, arrest and detain travellers. The border agency has more authority than police services when it comes to enforcing Canada’s customs and immigration regulations. Yet unlike the RCMP, CSIS and even local law enforcement agencies across Canada, which are subject to oversight, the CBSA operates without an independent civilian oversight body. As such, allegations of bias toward Muslim travellers (or those perceived to be Muslim) by CBSA officers, be it by land or air, have gone unchecked for far too long. Additionally, CBSA officers have targeted Muslim refugees, particularly those from countries where authoritarian or military regimes have persecuted activists and opponents. Targeting of Muslims from Egypt, Bangladesh, India and Tunisia is the most prevalent. The CBSA has utilized the controversial provision 34 (1)(f) of the Immigration Act to deport these refugees back to their home countries. At the National Summit, organizations appealed to the Canadian government to amend the Immigration Act to ensure refugees are not discriminated against simply for their country of origin or their political activism, and therefore placed at risk when seeking protection in Canada. Read more - Lire plus

Muslim monitoring case goes to US Supreme Court. What’s at stake?

Austria: Targeting of Muslims in country's largest-ever police raid analysed in new report

Land defenders arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory


The Narwhal 18/11/2021 - RCMP officers are enforcing a Coastal GasLink injunction, arresting Wet’suwet’en land defenders and supporters Thursday, days after they took control of a forest service road and ordered pipeline workers to leave Gidimt’en territory in northwest B.C. In a video update published to Twitter, Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson, said RCMP moved into the territory and started arresting land defenders at the Gidimt’en Checkpoint. “Our warriors are down there, our matriarch is there,” she said, noting the RCMP is using canine units to assist with arrests. “There’s a lot of people that are there that are at risk of this police violence.” According to a Gidimt’en update posted at 12:48 p.m. on Nov. 18, approximately 15 arrests have been made, including Elders, legal observers and media.

Hereditary Dinï ze’ (Chief) Woos, Frank Alec, expressed regret that workers are stuck in the camps behind the blockades. “I want to mention to our local non-Wet’suwet’en members that we’re sorry you ended up in the middle of this,” he said in a video statement. “But I must say that we gave ample notice to [Coastal GasLink] that we were going to act on this.” Workers were given eight hours on Sunday to evacuate and Chief Woos granted a two hour extension, but of the estimated 500 individuals housed at Coastal GasLink’s two remote work camps, only a handful left. Coastal GasLink did not answer The Narwhal’s questions about whether the company had informed its workers of the evacuation order, instead noting in an email, “We will not jeopardize the safety of our workers, under any circumstance.” According to a Tyee report, many workers were not told about the evacuation order. “I don’t know about everybody, but a lot said they would have left,” one worker, who asked not to be named for fear of losing their job, told The Tyee.

“When the roads were closed by enforcing our eviction notice to [Coastal GasLink] that we delivered back on Jan. 4, 2020, we were contacted by some of the B.C. representatives and all they did was lecture us and reiterated the safety issue of the people at the camp regarding their food supplies,” Woos explained in the statement. “Now in talking about safety issues, the RCMP is currently blocking kilometre 29 and not allowing any food supplies or medical supplies back up to our camps, our territory, our unceded land, to our people.” Earlier this year, a coalition of media organizations, including The Narwhal, launched and won a B.C. Supreme Court case against the RCMP after police similarly restricted journalists’ access to the Fairy Creek blockades. Human rights organizations, including the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, have called on provincial and federal governments to immediately halt the Coastal GasLink pipeline project until the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people directly impacted is given.

“Canada’s courts have acknowledged… that the Wet’suwet’en people, represented by our hereditary chiefs, have never ceded nor surrendered title to the 22,000 square kilometres of Wet’suwet’en territory,” the hereditary chiefs wrote when they first issued the eviction order in 2020, referring to a landmark Supreme Court of Canada case which confirmed Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan Rights and Title. “The granting of the interlocutory injunction by B.C.’s Supreme Court has proven to us that Canadian courts will ignore their own rulings and deny our jurisdiction when convenient, and will not protect our territories or our rights as Indigenous peoples.” Read more - Lire plus

Open letter: Amnesty International urges federal government, BC and RCMP to protect the rights of Wet’suwet’en land defenders

TAKE ACTION: Free Sleydo + All Out For Wedzin Kwa

Terrorism laws target racism, but what about racism in the legal system?

The Conversation 17/11/2021 - There are now critics arguing alongside some vulnerable communities — including racialized and Muslim communities — who are against using an anti-terrorism response to right-wing violence. These critics say the government itself is racist and sexist, and this is not addressed by anti-terrorism laws.

It may seem counter-intuitive. Why would marginalized people oppose actions that seem intended to protect vulnerable communities? Several reasons can be gleaned from the scholarly literature:

  • Expanding the definition of terrorism to include violence motivated by right-wing ideologies might hide more common and everyday forms of racist and sexist violence. For example, feminists worry that police resources could be focused on large-scale attacks and those that meet the high legal standard for a terrorism conviction. Investigating the more common crimes against women, like domestic violence, could be pushed aside.
  • It has also been pointed out that Canada already has legal tools to combat terrorism of any ideological orientation. The government’s failure to use them against right-wing violence is more a lack of will than a lack of means. Adding to an already lopsided national security budget doesn’t change this.
  • Finally, anti-terrorism laws cannot address the racist and sexist violence within the legal system. Much of the violence that marginalized people face comes from interactions with the legal system itself. As activist Hashra Walia puts it, the state is “invested in the very same violence we want to end.” As a result, there is concern that any expansion of police and security powers will only end up perpetuating a system that already targets vulnerable communities.

Together these arguments claim that law and violence can’t be separated. The forms of oppression that exist in society are within the legal system itself.

One way to think about the debate is to see the legal category of terrorism as dividing violence more than stopping it. If the state is itself sexist and racist, it remains so even if it defines white supremacist and misogynistic violence as terrorism. The key is to understand that the goal is not to stamp out white supremacy and misogyny, but to manage it. In defining right-wing violence as terrorism, the government divides violence into sanctioned and unsanctioned forms. It means the law can be seen to let some racist and sexist forms of violence go by referring to its own categories. A prime example is structural violence, like unequal treatment by the courts or targeting by the police. The government’s legal prohibition on terrorism does not exclude such structural violence.

The Canadian government is defining a broader range of ideologically motivated violence as terrorism. But is it a good idea to expand the system of surveillance that already targets minority communities to protect them from far-right violence? As some members of Muslim and racialized communities, as well as feminists, point out, these actions don’t necessarily eradicate violence — and they could make structural and institutional violence seem more palatable. We suggest that the extension of the terrorism category divides and regulates violence embedded in Canadian society more than eliminates it. Critical security scholars have questioned the relationship between definitions of terrorism and the use of state power. In this spirit, Canada’s moves to define violence motivated by white supremacy and misogyny as terrorism ought to make us question how the state manages these problems, and its own legitimacy, at a time when the country’s colonial and white supremacist legacy is increasingly being acknowledged. Read more - Lire plus

Daniel Livermore, Gar Pardy and Michael Welsh: An Audacious Suggestion for the new Minister of Foreign Affairs: Help Canadians

Centre for International Policy Studies 08/11/21 - Canada’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, has promised a combination of “humility and audacity” for Canadian foreign policy.  She will inevitably face a barrage of questions relating to important issues critical to Canadian foreign policy – from our relations with China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, to Canadian policy on shoring up crumbling democratic institutions, including in Allied countries, to helping (or even leading) international efforts at re-building Haiti. These are daunting challenges at a time when the media has taken note of the desperate shape of Global Affairs Canada. This, too, is a problem that has to be tackled with determination. If audacity is going to be Joly’s leitmotif as Canada’s foreign minister, let us suggest one issue that she can tackle immediately: extend consular assistance to more than 40 Canadians detained or isolated in Syria and facilitate their return to Canada.  

The plight of these Canadians now trapped in Syria isn’t a new story.  It goes back more than a decade to a period in which extremists in Syria and Iraq attracted the support of a large number of foreigners who travelled to the region in support of ISIS or other radical Islamic organizations.  More than a year ago, the respected international human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, published a lengthy report on the current  situation of these Canadians.  It related how they had ended up in detention camps, following a round-up of thousands of foreigners by the Global Coalition against ISIS (which includes Canada).  Among those living in Syria in ISIS-controlled areas were people from some 60 countries, “at least” 47 of whom were identified as Canadians: 8 men, 13 women and 26 children.  Some were misguided, disillusioned individuals who made a catastrophic error in judgment in venturing abroad in support of an indefensible extremist cause.

Since their detentions, most of these Canadians have appealed to the Canadian government for help in getting them home – asking for the consular assistance to which Canadians are entitled when they run into trouble abroad.  Under Article 6. (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.”  This right is reinforced by a consular service fee in support of consular services that Canadians pay when they obtain passports. Over the past several years, despite investigations by Global Affairs Canada, the Canadian government has done essentially nothing to get these Canadians out of what is a desperate, appalling situation.  The official Canadian position is that it is “monitoring” the issue. It claims that the “security situation” in Syria and the absence of consular officials on the ground make it difficult or impossible to offer assistance. One group of 26 Canadians has recently launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court to force the government to act. The truth behind the government’s lethargy is straightforward. This is an issue the government does not want to handle.  There is no “upside.” The Canadians in Syria have few advocates in their corner. Most Canadians probably believe that those who ended up in Syria in support of a vicious and bloody extremist movement deserve what came to them.

And there are “downsides.”  Bringing these Canadians back to Canada will cost money, and their re-entry will involve rehabilitation and reintegration, for which the provinces will have to pay.  Their return will also trigger investigations and possibly prosecutions, expanding the workloads of the RCMP and the Department of Justice.  For some time to come, their situations would need to be monitored by CSIS.  This issue is a public affairs nightmare, re-kindling security concerns about extremists returning to Canada while offering no positive incentives for the government to act. With negligible support in Canada for these Canadians, the government has taken the coward’s way out.  Despite its consular obligations to Canadians, it is playing a delaying game in the vain hope that the problem will somehow fade away.  It is also ignoring the urgings of the UN, the Global Coalition against ISIS, and others to repatriate the Canadians and resolve the larger issues of the detention camps. It may be hoping to lose its eventual court battle, which would provide an undeniable rationale for finally doing something.  In the meantime, the locus of decision-making on this issue has shifted from Global Affairs Canada to the Prime Minister’s Office. And there it sits, with predictable results.

No one is arguing the case for a soft line for this group. Like other Canadians who are assisted while abroad, this group should pay for their travel back to Canada. They should receive only temporary travel documents until they own up to their miscalculated adventurism. Every year, Global Affairs helps tens of thousands of Canadians in trouble abroad, including those convicted of serious crimes in foreign courts. The Canadians trapped in Syria  will eventually return, as is their constitutional right. Taking a proactive approach will make it possible to assess the threat they may still pose, and appropriate action can be taken against those subject to criminal charges. And why should Mélanie Joly take on this thankless challenge? Because responsible governments take on tough tasks, and because it’s best done expeditiously and thoroughly, not because our hands are forced by our allies or the UN. Other countries are tackling this issue. There’s no reason why Canada should remain a laggard, waiting for the Federal Court to issue a judgment in their favour.  Global Affairs can manage this issue. Let’s see how audacious the new minister wants to be in unshackling her ministry fro a poor government position on this issue. Read more - Lire plus

Canadian stranded in Iraq to be issued emergency passport

CTV News 12/11/2021 - A Canadian woman stranded in Iraq for four months will be issued an emergency passport, allowing her to fly home and be reunited with her five-year-old daughter, CTV News has confirmed. The move marks a significant moment for human rights groups, who have been pressuring Canada to repatriate the approximately 35 women and children now being detained in a detention camp in northeastern Syria. The young woman, who under a court order can only be identified by her initials “SA,” was released from the camp in July and has been marooned in the Iraqi city of Erbil ever since, while waiting for temporary travel papers, a procedure that should take days, not months.

In a letter from the Department of Justice, Canada essentially relented and said the woman would be issued travel papers immediately. “It is unconscionable that Canada would block a citizen from returning home until they are sued in court,” Paul Champ, the woman’s lawyer in Ottawa, told CTV News. Champ had accused Canada of deliberately holding the woman in forced exile as punishment for her past links to ISIS. She travelled to Syria in 2014, where Kurdish forces seized her after fighting ended in 2017. She has largely refused to talk about why she went to Syria and what she did there. “Exile as a punishment is something from the Middle Ages,” Champ said in an email. “As a country that purports to uphold human rights and the rule of law, it’s simply shameful.”

SA is the only Canadian woman to leave the camp, after agreeing to become an informant for the FBI. Her release was arranged by a former American diplomat with deep ties to the ruling Kurds. Her daughter, who was born in 2016, was taken out of the camp last March and flown to Canada. SA was not allowed to go with her. “This was amazing news and my client and her family are so happy,” said her lawyer. “There were a lot of tears. My client’s daughter won’t be told that her mother is coming until she’s on the flight.” The woman could face terrorism-related charges once she returns to Canada, which could happen in the coming days. Source

How the U.S. Hid an Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians in Syria

Screen Shot 2021-09-24 at 1.22.31 PM.png

The New York Times 13/11/2021 - In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field next to a town called Baghuz, a U.S. military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets. But it saw only a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank. Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors. It was March 18, 2019. At the U.S. military’s busy Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, uniformed personnel watching the live drone footage looked on in stunned disbelief, according to one officer who was there.

“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” An initial battle damage assessment quickly found that the number of dead was actually about 70. The Baghuz strike was one of the largest civilian casualty incidents of the war against the Islamic State, but it has never been publicly acknowledged by the U.S. military. The details, reported here for the first time, show that the death toll was almost immediately apparent to military officials. A legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike. The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified.

The Defense Department’s independent inspector general began an inquiry, but the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.

“Leadership just seemed so set on burying this. No one wanted anything to do with it,” said Gene Tate, an evaluator who worked on the case for the inspector general’s office and agreed to discuss the aspects that were not classified. “It makes you lose faith in the system when people are trying to do what’s right but no one in positions of leadership wants to hear it.” Mr. Tate, a former Navy officer who had worked for years as a civilian analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center before moving to the inspector general’s office, said he criticized the lack of action and was eventually forced out of his job. The details of the strikes were pieced together by The New York Times over months from confidential documents and descriptions of classified reports, as well as interviews with personnel directly involved, and officials with top secret security clearances who discussed the incident on the condition that they not be named.

The Times investigation found that the bombing had been called in by a classified American special operations unit, Task Force 9, which was in charge of ground operations in Syria. The task force operated in such secrecy that at times it did not inform even its own military partners of its actions. In the case of the Baghuz bombing, the American Air Force command in Qatar had no idea the strike was coming, an officer who served at the command center said. In the minutes after the strike, an alarmed Air Force intelligence officer in the operations center called over an Air Force lawyer in charge of determining the legality of strikes. The lawyer ordered the F-15E squadron and the drone crew to preserve all video and other evidence, according to documents obtained by The Times. He went upstairs and reported the strike to his chain of command, saying it was a possible violation of the law of armed conflict — a war crime — and regulations required a thorough, independent investigation. But a thorough, independent investigation never happened. This week, after The New York Times sent its findings to U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the air war in Syria, the command acknowledged the strikes for the first time, saying 80 people were killed. Read more - Lire plus

An Undefined Defining Moment: Marking 20 Years of Counterterrorism Without Ever Agreeing What Terrorism Is


Just Security 04/11/2021 - This week in New York, another 20th anniversary commemoration related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States will take place — the U.N. Security Council’s adoption of Resolution 1373 on Sept. 28, 2001. With far-reaching impact on the past two decades of counterterrorism practice, it imposed a set of legal obligations on all countries to take action against terrorism and established a Security Council body – the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) – to monitor implementation of the resolution around the globe. In addition to catalyzing a wide range of national counterterrorism activities, it served as the foundation of what has become a sprawling international counterterrorism architecture. Yet, it did all of this without ever defining who is a terrorist. Speaking in the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, the CTCs first chair, U.K. Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock proclaimed: “Increasingly, questions are being raised about the problem of the definition of a terrorist. Let us be wise and focused about this: terrorism is terrorism … What looks, smells and kills like terrorism is terrorism.” It was therefore left it up to each country to make that determination on its own, and neither the Security Council nor the CTC has ever publicly questioned any such determination.

While this year’s daylong event today will highlight some of the perceived achievements of the resolution and the CTC, those involved should not lose sight of a significant unintended consequence of decisions taken by both the Security Council and the CTC in the aftermath of 9/11. The U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism (UN Special Rapporteur) recently described that consequence as “the systemic domestic exploitation of counter-terrorism frameworks that emerged in the aftermath of 9/11 to repress and violate rights domestically,” with some governments pointing to Resolution 1373 as justification. (I am co-leading an outside assessment by the Fourth Freedom Forum and the Soufan Center of 20 years of Security Council counterterrorism practice — to include the impact of the resolution and the committee. The project is funded by the European Union and the Dutch, German, and Swiss governments.) Resolution 1373 did not define terrorism for a simple reason: the Security Council wanted to respond quickly following the 9/11 attacks, and trying to reach agreement on a definition risked importing divisive debates over the definition (largely centered on the age-old adage: “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”) that had bogged down the U.N. General Assembly legal committee’s work on a comprehensive convention against terrorism since the mid-1990s. One commentator at the time said the resolution “was possible only because member states did not have to tackle the issue of defining terrorism. Many among those voting for the resolution did not see eye to eye with the U.S. on such a definition.”

Writing 18 years ago from the perspective of a member of the CTC, I wondered whether the committee would be able to avoid the potentially explosive issue of the definition over the long term. I thought it was possible that a government might adopt an overly restrictive interpretation of the resolution, e.g., not applying it to cover the acts of groups that the overwhelming majority of CTC members believed constituted terrorism. It does not appear to ever have confronted such a situation. In fact, rather than the anticipated reluctance of certain member states to apply the Security Council’s counterterrorism framework at home, the opposite has occurred: an overly zealous approach from a growing number of member states. The result has been a plethora of human rights violations that have been well-documented, with understandable concern from U.N. experts as well as non-governmental human rights groups. Read more - Lire plus

UN Agencies and the Association of International Development Agencies stand by civil society organisations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory


UNSCO 09/11/2021 - The decision on 7 November of the Military Commander in the West Bank to declare by Military Orders the six Palestinian NGOs as unauthorized in the West Bank deepens the concern of the UN Agencies and the Association International Development Agencies (AIDA), working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The decision is a further erosion of civic and humanitarian space and stands to significantly constrain the work of the six organisations which have worked with the international community, including the UN, for decades, providing essential services to countless Palestinians.

“These allegations are taken very seriously. To date, none of the UN agencies nor AIDA organisations have received written documentation which could serve as a basis for the allegations”, said United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the OPT, Lynn Hastings. She added that “we will continue to engage with all relevant partners for more information”. Counter-terrorism legislation must be in accordance with obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, which include full respect for the rights to freedom of association and expression. It cannot be applied to legitimate human rights and humanitarian work; the breadth of the Israeli 2016 Anti-Terrorism legislation and its impact on the presumption of innocence present serious concerns under international law.

With our strong commitment to the indispensable role of civil society in democratic life and in finding peaceful solutions to conflict, many of us work with and some financially support these organizations. Past allegations of misuse of our funds by Palestinian civil society organization partners have not been substantiated. We will continue to stand by international law and civil society organizations that promote international humanitarian law, human rights and democratic values. Read more - Lire plus

Israel boasts new ‘proof’ of NGO terror ties — by getting the facts wrong

Israel escalates surveillance of Palestinians with facial recognition program Blue Wolf in West Bank

Amnesty International + Citizen Lab: Devices of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders Hacked with NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware

NSO’s Pegasus surveilled Palestinian activists — it’s time for a moratorium on spyware sales

NEW ACTION: Protect Human Rights Defenders in Palestine!

The Etymology of Terror

The New York Review of Books 17/11/2021 - The recent controversy over Israel’s declaration as “terrorist” six Palestinian nongovernmental organizations—including Al-Haq, a leading human rights monitoring group that was the first of its kind in the Middle East when cofounded by Raja Shehadeh, who wrote for the Review about all this—reminded me of an essay written some thirty-five years ago by Edward Said. That article, titled “The Essential Terrorist,” appeared in Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question, a 1988 collection edited by Said himself, and Christopher Hitchens. Said’s essay was originally a book review for The Nation—its subject, in his words, “Terrorism: How the West Can Win, edited and with commentary, weedlike in its proliferation, by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.” 

Said went on:

Unlike the wimps who have merely condemned terrorism without defining it, Netanyahu bravely ventures a definition: “terrorism” he says, “is the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming, and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political purposes.” But this powerful philosophic formulation is as flawed as all the other definitions, not only because it is vague about exceptions and limits but because its application and interpretation in Netanyahu’s book depend a priori on a single axiom: “we” are never terrorists; it’s the Moslems, Arabs and Communists who are.

Oh, that Netanyahu: the one who graduated from being a Beltway influencer on the new pseudo–social science of Terrorism Studies to become the leader of Israel’s Likud Party, a five-term prime minister, and by far the dominant Israeli politician of the past quarter-century. His third book on the topic, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists, was published (in the US) the year before his first term in government. Since then, the opportunity to put theory into practice and define all resistance to Israel’s settlement and de facto annexation of Palestinian territories as terrorism has served him well. One imagines that, though now out of office and still facing corruption charges, he must draw some satisfaction from seeing his anti-terrorism mandate applied by an Israeli politician usually described as a centrist in the country’s politics, the former army chief, Benny Gantz.

Never mind that the dossier to back this most recent proscription, reportedly based on intelligence gathered by Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet, has been debunked. (The clue is surely in the word “dossier,” which, from supposed evidence of Iraqi WMDs to frolics in Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton, seems the standard receptacle for garbage research and hearsay nonsense.) In this case, the report on the alleged status of the six NGOs as front organizations for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a banned leftist group, relied—according to +972 Magazine, on sight of a leaked copy—on uncorroborated testimony from two accountants who had been fired for embezzlement from a different NGO. Officials for several of the European governments that were shown the material by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in an effort to persuade them to sever ties with, and end funding of, the NGOs have rejected it as worthless. The problem remains, though, that governments the world over have come to rely on the rhetorical tactic of placing opponents in a special category of irredeemable enemies of the state and declaring them terrorists. But how, not to credit Bibi with too much, did the “powerful philosophic formulation” that Said diagnosed three-plus decades ago come into being?

This history begins, as so much does, with the French Revolution. The etymology seems to show that “terror” (terreur) and “terrorism” (terrorisme) entered modern parlance with the bloody repressions of Maximilien Robespierre’s Committee of Public Safety (a prime Orwellianism avant la lettre) that saw thousands executed in the name of revolutionary justice from 1793 to 1794. What is central to this early usage is that it refers very specifically to violence committed by the state against those it sees as guilty of subverting its authority and aims. That definition, of terror as state violence, proved remarkably stable and enduring. [...]

What historical change, then, brought about the end of this ancien usage? The answer seems to lie in the period of decolonization after World War II, in which we see the meanings of terror and terrorism shift from violence inflicted by the state upon its citizenry to violence committed against the state by certain of its citizens. It is a remarkable transition: once the criminal perpetrator, the state now becomes victim of the crime. And by this sleight, the state gains the right to enact drastic measures by claiming self-defense in the name of public safety (that fell phrase, again). What appears unmistakably true is that this reversal of semantic polarities—culminating in the dubious scholarship of Netanyahu and colleagues—could only have taken place through the West’s experience of various postcolonial “emergencies.” The essential terrorist, as Said noted, must be an enemy other who will carry the burden of this new meaning. This has manifested in so-called emergencies all over the world, from Malaya to Kenya to Algeria to Vietnam to Northern Ireland.

Where in the world might we look for this postcolonial realignment of the nature, and agents, of terrorism? My answer—there could be others—would be apartheid South Africa.

Consider this straightforward sequence of events. In 1950, the apartheid regime passed the Suppression of Communism Act. In 1960, South African police made the township of Sharpeville internationally notorious by firing upon a crowd of demonstrators—killing sixty-nine people and injuring another one hundred and eighty; among the casualties were twenty-nine children. The massacre was a turning point in the anti-apartheid struggle: the two main Black opposition groups, the Pan African Congress and the African National Congress, both soon decided to begin armed resistance to the regime. Following the 1963 arrests of a dozen or so leading members of the ANC, on suspicion of conspiring to commit acts of sabotage, the Rivonia Trial concluded with the sentencing of eight defendants to life imprisonment; among them Nelson Mandela. In 1967, South Africa passed the Terrorism Act, which sanctioned the detention without trial of anyone suspected to “endanger the maintenance of law and order.”

South Africa is an instructive case, perhaps the pivotal one, because the apartheid state—relatively insulated from the cold war conflicts taking place elsewhere but facing an opposition movement entrenched in a Black majority that lacked any real rights—chose to shift its criminalization of adversaries from charging them as Communists to imprisoning them as terrorists. It was this legal innovation by apartheid lawyers and lawmakers that made terrorism not a crime of the state but a crime against the state. As John Dugard, a law professor then at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, wrote in 1978: “Although designed to combat terrorism, the Terrorism Act has itself become an instrument of terror.” The law offered a new template soon taken up and imitated around the world. Britain was an early adopter, passing a string of anti-terrorism statutes between 1974 and 1989, with another raft enacted from 2000 to 2015; but countries as varied and far apart as Belgium and Bangladesh, Turkey and Canada, China and New Zealand, have followed suit.

After Ronald Reagan joined Margaret Thatcher in accepting the apartheid regime’s designation of the ANC as a terrorist organization, in 1988 the US Department of Defense added Mandela and the ANC to a list of “key regional terrorist groups.” Mandela was released from Robben Island just two years later, yet he remained on a US terrorism watchlist until 2008—fourteen years after he became South Africa’s first post-apartheid president, a period in which he met with every sitting American president. The United States has, of course, made its own, typically exceptional contribution to the twenty-first-century definitions of terror and terrorism. The “war on terror” that President George W. Bush declared to Congress shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks took what had previously been the state’s struggle against local armed resistance or anticolonial insurgents to a new, global domain. Formerly, per Said’s schema, governments had used “terrorist” to outlaw particular opponents that resorted to violence. In contrast, the US after September 11 arrogated to itself the right to use military force anywhere in the world, where alliances or client governments permitted, against non-state actors, who were thus a priori terrorist adversaries. (This “war” also created a pretext, which circumvented international law, for detaining and torturing “enemy combatants” captured, or kidnapped, by the US and its surrogates.)

Mostly, this has been accomplished under the rubric of fighting “radical Islamic [sic]” groups in whatever theater of operations they happen to be. Given that the US’s main weapon in this war has, in practice, become the drone-launched missile, for all intents and purposes there is little oversight or scrutiny—either through Congress or among the wider American public—of whom the US has targeted as terrorists by this means. Only on rare occasions, when, usually for other reasons, there is close media attention, is any light shone on whether lethal violence has been rained down on anyone even vaguely meeting the open-ended US designation. Such a case occurred on August 29, when a US drone attacked killed ten Afghan civilians mistakenly identified by the US military as members of ISIS-K. According to the independent investigative and monitoring group Airwars, in the twenty years of the “war on terror,” at least 22,679 civilians (and possibly more than twice that number) have died as victims of US drone strikes.

It might seem reasonable to adapt and update Dugard’s words: although designed to combat terrorism, the USA Patriot Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force have themselves become instruments of terror. That argument—attempting to put the Terror back in terror—was precisely what Noam Chomsky tried to accomplish with his essay in Said’s 1988 collection. We have reached, then, a point in the etymology of terror at which governments have assumed the right to designate any specific person or group, literally anyone they don’t like, as terrorists. By one new standard for terrorism, it can apply to human rights lawyers and researchers who irritate government officials, because to decry state violence has become itself a terrorist crime. By the other new standard, it can apply to anyone who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time—the time and place being lethally adjacent to wherever the US is hunting “war on terror” adversaries.

My initial example came from Israel, but it’s worth noting that the US now uses both standards—one for enemies foreign, the other for enemies domestic. The latter has found a new currency in recent controversies over who is a domestic terrorist. For several years after 2001, the definition of domestic terrorism seemed relatively stable and commonsensical to most Americans: it applied to self-radicalized Muslims. (This also led to some very troubling over-surveillance and entrapment plots directed at American Muslim communities.) 

Now, however, there is a push to redefine domestic terrorism to include, or “mean,” white nationalist and white supremacist groups and antigovernment militia organizations. That is an understandable liberal reflex—to redirect government law enforcement and intelligence agencies from inappropriate targets toward more “deserving” ones—but it leaves intact, even reinforces, the state’s power to define enemies in the name of public safety. (It is not hard to imagine how a simple change of US administration might soon see Antifa, even Black Lives Matter, placed within the framing of domestic terrorism.) It could be that the entire rhetorical gambit of terror is reaching the limits of its coherence, a reductio ad absurdum, the end of the semantic road. That would be an optimistic reading of this latest turn in the story. Given both their inertia and their aversion to humiliating about-faces, state institutions endow their designations of terrorism with a long half-life. If it took some 150 years to recast the meaning of terror from something malign governments did to their people into violence committed by malign people to outrage governments, how long might it be before the poles reverse again? And by what historical agency? It may be simpler and easier to banish the tainted term from the lexicon of public discourse. What should be apparent today is a charge so discredited, so empty of real meaning, that the force of moral condemnation it once commanded ought to rebound on those who would use it. Source

ICYMI: ICLMG: Why we need to ditch anti-terrorism and national security

Edward Snowden: ‘If you weaken encryption, people will die’

The Next Web 26/10/2021 - Our online privacy faces growing threats. Governments around the world are calling for encryption backdoors that would enable access to personal information. They argue that encryption protects criminals. But it also protects activists, dissidents, persecuted groups, and ordinary citizens.

Edward Snowden is among the most prominent beneficiaries. The whistleblower’s first messages to journalists were made with encryption. They resulted in revelations that millions of Americans had been under illegal mass surveillance. “If you weaken encryption, people will die,” said Snowden in a statement. “This year alone, after the fall of the government of Afghanistan, we saw how crucial encryption is in keeping ordinary people safe.” Snowden has joined the Global Encryption Coalition to launch a campaign to protect encryption. The group of civil society organizations and tech firms warns that undermining encryption will leave people more vulnerable to crime and surveillance.

“I have seen first-hand how governments can abuse the power they have to access the personal data of innocent people in the name of national security,” said Snowden. “Weakening encryption would be a colossal mistake that could put thousands of lives at risk.” End-to-end encryption would make it harder to implement spy programs like the one Snowden exposed — which may be one reason why governments want to circumvent it. It would not be the first time that lawmakers have undermined our privacy in the name of fighting terrorism. Read more - Lire plus

Editorial Board: Biden administration must declassify CIA torture program

The Boston Globe 06/11/2021 - Last month, seven senior military officials serving on a military jury sentenced Guantanamo Bay detainee Majid Khan to 26 years in prison for his support and work as a courier for Al Qaeda. They coupled Khan’s sentence — the shortest possible term per war court instructions — with a letter urging clemency for him, citing the extreme torture he faced during his time in CIA custody.

In a detailed 39-page testimony, Khan was able to outline the abuse he faced as a prisoner, becoming the first former CIA “black site” detainee to publicly document how he was treated at the agency’s secret torture prisons. His torture included psychological abuse, waterboarding, and sexual assault. He was also starved, beaten, and hung naked from a ceiling. This kind of morally depraved treatment of an individual by the government — no matter how serious a crime they commit — should have no place in American society. And in fact, it doesn’t: The torture Khan faced was and continues to be illegal under both US and international law, and the people who violated such laws ought to be held accountable for contributing to a clandestine operation that will forever be a source of great national shame. A first step toward closing this dark chapter in American history would be for the Biden administration to declassify a major congressional report on the United States’ post-9/11 torture program — as well as any additional case documents — which would bring greater clarity to what happened and who can be held responsible.

Much of what the public knows about America’s torture program is a result of news reporting, court documents, and the 2012 Senate Intelligence Committee report. But even the comprehensive Senate report — over 6,000 pages — was only partly declassified, and there is still much left to be uncovered. While former president Barack Obama decided to include the Senate’s report in his presidential papers — meaning that it could be declassified in 2028 at the earliest, though probably at an undetermined later date if future administrations believe the information is a risk to national security — the public has a right to know who was involved with the program, and just how extreme it was, far sooner. Few people have been held accountable while others have not only gotten away with torture but were rewarded for it. Gina Haspel, for example, became CIA director during the Trump administration despite being intimately involved in the agency’s torture program and its coverup, having run one of the CIA’s black sites in Thailand and advocating for the destruction of videotapes that had recordings of waterboarding sessions.

There is no excuse for the US government to keep secret its history of torture. In fact, doing so only gives officials an incentive to hold off the trials for some of the remaining Guantanamo detainees and afford them their due process rights; as Khan’s case shows, trials will probably uncover torture techniques that expose just how grotesque the program was. It also means that some victims of the program can’t receive adequate care because their medical records, which would show the kind of abuse they were subjected to, remain classified. One of the mistakes of the Obama administration was that it did not wage a serious effort to hold people accountable for torture. While the administration did open criminal investigations into interrogations that went beyond what was authorized, the architects of the program and its biggest contributors walked away without facing any consequences. That inaction sent the message to future administrations that, so long as you’re in power, you can get away with anything — even torture. But the good news is that it’s not too late to reverse course; there is no statute of limitations on torture and other war crimes that could have resulted in death. People can still be held accountable, and the first step is for the government to let the public know who was involved, how they were involved, and what they did. That, in the end, is one more tool the government can use to try to ensure that nothing like this abhorrent program is ever attempted again. Read more - Lire plus

Accused 9/11 Mastermind Seeks Access to Secret Testimony

Some Sept. 11 Trial Secrets May Not Be Secrets Anymore

A Torture Survivor Speaks at the Guantanamo Military Commissions

LinkedIn Share This Email


Screen Shot 2021-08-26 at 5.55.05 PM.png

Canada must reform its extradition system now!

Canada’s extradition system is broken. One leading legal expert calls it “the least fair law in Canada.” It has led to grave harms and rights violations, as we’ve seen in the case of Canadian citizen Dr Hassan Diab. It needs to be reformed now.

Click below to send a message to urge Prime Minister Trudeau, the Minister of Justice and your Member of Parliament to reform the extradition system before it makes more victims. And share on Facebook + Twitter + Instagram. Thank you!


Urge Canada to Condemn Israeli Silencing of Palestinian Groups

Send an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging his administration to:

1) Condemn Israel’s wrongful designation of these human rights groups, and

2) Demand Israel rescind such labels over the Palestinian organizations

NEW ACTION Protect Human Rights Defenders in Palestine!

Screen Shot 2021-08-26 at 5.55.05 PM.png

Canada must repatriate Canadians from Syria

Sign this Parliamentary petition calling upon the Government of Canada to immediately begin the process to repatriate Canadian citizens (14 children, 8 women and 4 men) currently being detained in North East Syria. At 500 signatures, the government needs to issue a public response to it.


No More Attacks on Afghanistan

World Beyond War - In response to a bombing at the Kabul airport, the US president authorized 2 drone strikes on August 27 and 29 that killed several Afghan civilians, including a family of ten. Official counts indicate that at least 241,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan and Pakistan war zones. We oppose any further attacks on Afghanistan, “over the horizon” or by troops on the ground.

Screen Shot 2021-08-26 at 5.55.05 PM.png

How to Help Afghans in Afghanistan and Canada

Muslim Link - The people of Afghanistan are in dire need of humanitarian aid and Canada has committed to accepting 20,000 Afghan refugees.

How can you help? Click below for a list of ways you can support the people of Afghanistan at home and abroad.


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.

Take action to ban biometric recognition technologies

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 12.39.28 PM.png

Trudeau: 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.


Stop Mohamed Harkat's Deportation to Torture

No one should be deported to torture. Ever. For nearly 19 years, Mohamed Harkat has faced the ordeal of being place under a kafkaesque security certificate based on secret evidence and accusations he cannot challenge, and facing deportation to torture in Algeria.

Please join us and send the letter below to Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino, urging them to stop the deportation to torture of Mr. Harkat.

  • Your letter will also go to your Member of Parliament, along with the ministers of Justice & of Immigration.
  • And don't hesitate to also sign and share this petition!
Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 5.11.01 PM.png

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

+ Urge China to stop targeting Uyghurs in China and abroad




Reddition de comptes

Ken Rubin: Transparency remains low on Trudeau and other governments’ priorities

Review of the CSIS-RCMP relationship in a region of Canada through the lens of an ongoing investigation

Slain Mexican activist’s supporters contest federal watchdog’s refusal to probe case


“Hell on Earth”: Millions of Afghans Face Starvation as U.S. & West Freeze Billions in Gov’t Funds

Canada Has Left Afghan Interpreters Out in the Cold

Afghans targeted by the Taliban say they have no idea how to secure Canadian visas

Anti-terrorism laws

Législation antiterroriste

The Permanent State of Emergency in Egypt

Attacks on dissent

Attaques contre la dissidence

Activists at COP26 Honor 1,000+ Environmental Defenders Killed Since Paris Accord — 1 in 3 Indigenous

Algeria: Release Ramzi Dardar, union activist jailed on fabricated terrorism charges


EU: Special forces network seeks explosive drones for anti-terrorism operations

Hong Kong

Surveillance in the academy: Hong Kong's new compulsory national security courses

Freedom of the press

Liberté de la presse

US journalist held in Myanmar charged with terrorism and sedition

Migrants and Refugee Rights

Droits des migrant.es et des réfugié.es

Human rights organizations call for end to immigration detention in Canada

Dark things are happening on Europe’s borders. Are they a sign of worse to come?

The Global Climate Wall: Wealthy Nations Prioritize Militarizing Borders Over Climate Action

Privacy and surveillance

Vie privée et surveillance

Bill 22: Out of step with public opinion.

Double win! Court rejects NSO’s attempts to silence victims and derail surveillance lawsuit

Pegasus: UK urged to conduct 'immediate' probe into spyware scandal

Face Recognition Isn’t Just Face Identification and Verification: It’s Also Photo Clustering, Race Analysis, Real-time Tracking, and More

School officials welcome Homeland Security surveillance after student fights

New study reveals alarming expansion of biometric mass surveillance in Europe

Facebook is backing away from facial recognition. Meta isn’t.


Exclusive: LAPD partnered with tech firm that enables secretive online spying

Facebook tells LA police to stop spying on users with fake accounts


Lanceur.ses d'alertes

Julian Assange’s Fiancée: U.K. Blocking Our Attempt to Marry While He Is Tortured in Belmarsh Prison

Logo_ICLMG_HR What we_ve been up to.jpg

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

Version française: Ce que nous avons fait à date en 2021. Aidez-nous à protéger les libertés civiles pour le reste de l'année!

Help post it.png
Contribution post it.png
long border agent website.jpg

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!