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Online anti-government views pose terrorist threat, intelligence director claims

Expression of anti-government views on the internet may pose a terrorist threat, the director of a federal security agency said last night, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

“We are seeing that kind of narrative, very anti-authority, anti-government,” said Marie-Helen Chayer, executive director of the Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre.

Testifying at the Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency, Chayer said social media posts were closely monitored during the Freedom Convoy. The national terrorist threat assessment was not upgraded during the protests outside Parliament

“Ever since the beginning of the pandemic really we’ve seen a marked increase in ideologically motivated violent extremist rhetoric online, in social media,” said Chayer. “The challenge with that is the people who actually disseminate the propaganda are not necessarily the people who would actually mobilize to violence and conduct an act of terrorism.”

Chayer did not name the Freedom Convoy as a terrorist threat. However, Chayer said the Terrorism Assessment Centre was concerned anti-government Facebook and Twitter messages would provoke violence.

“What we have seen happening is the consumers of that rhetoric, of that propaganda, slowly or sometimes very quickly radicalizing and mobilizing to violence and then conducting an act of terrorism,” said Chayer. “During the convoy, during the whole pandemic and still, we are seeing that kind of narrative, very like anti-authority.”

“From the Centre perspective the most likely scenario involving a terrorism-like threat is caused by a lone actor being influenced or radicalized to violence by ideologically motivated violent extremist rhetoric,” said Chayer.

Police monitoring the Freedom Convoy suggested it was not a security threat. “It is not an ‘extremist’ movement,” Superintendent Patrick Morris, commander of the Ontario Provincial Police Intelligence Bureau, wrote in a February 22 assessment. “It is not comprised of ideologically motivated violent extremists. The actual leaders are not violent extremists with histories of violent criminal acts.”

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