New database aims to better target anti-terror policies

A database launched in Montreal on Thursday will break down the motivation and geography of violent attacks to help lawmakers craft more targeted policies to combat extremism, the site’s developer said.

The Canadian Incident Database was unveiled a week after the Conservative government approved Bill C-51, anti-terror legislation that expands the powers of the country’s police and intelligence agencies in the wake of two attacks in 2014 that brought an international war on terrorism to Canadian soil.

“What is important about the database is that it puts terrorism violence in perspective,” said James Ellis, who oversaw the project developed through the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society.

“Over the past 55 years, we’ve seen terrorism come from a variety of sectors. It hasn’t been monopolized by just one group,” he said.

Canadian Muslims have said they have been unfairly tarnished by the media and by the government following the attacks last year on two Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Montreal by Islamic extremists who had converted to the faith.

The database, which was put together with five university partners, compiled 1,815 incidents of terrorism and extremism between 1960 and 2014 that occurred either on Canadian soil or had a Canadian connection abroad.

Quebec was the province with the highest number of terrorist attacks, according to the data. The majority of the 1,170 attacks that occurred in Canada didn’t involve fatalities.

While there has been a recent rise in religious ideology as motivation for such attacks, terrorism has been carried out for a variety of reasons, including politics, Ellis said in a phone interview with Reuters.

“It’s important that we realize this isn’t something that came from nowhere.”

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