How many Canadians have fallen victim to terrorism?
Since no federal agencies would answer the question, Global News set out to come up with numbers on its own.
The attacks we included on our list had to meet three basic criteria: they resulted in serious deaths or injuries; they either occurred in Canada, or happened abroad with Canadians among the victims; and they were, at least partly, motivated by extremist ideology.
In some cases, identifying violence as terrorist violence was not difficult. Terrorist groups often want the world to know they did it, and will issue claims of responsibility.
Some have confessed, such as Saad Akhtar, who attacked a woman on a Toronto sidewalk in 2020 and later told police he had left a note pledging allegiance to ISIS, “just so you guys know it was terrorism.”
But in other cases, it can be more challenging, raising the sometimes politically charged question: what is terrorism?
We took a cautious approach, including only incidents where there was reliable evidence of extremist or political motives.
Some cases remain before the courts, but the allegations involve terrorism or extremist motivation. Those were included.
For example, we included the London truck attack, since police have alleged the suspect, Nathaniel Veltman, deliberately targeted a Muslim family, and prosecutors have charged him with terrorism.
We also included the Toronto van attack, although the motivation was found by the Ontario court to be a mix of Incel ideology and a desire for infamy.
Further, the Edmonton van attack made our list because an ISIS flag was found in the attacker’s vehicle and he had an alleged history of extremism.
But we did not include the Toronto Danforth shootings, since police have been unable to determine a motive.
Nor did we include the 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents killed when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down a passenger plane — although the Ontario court has ruled it was an act of terrorism and they arguably should be counted as well.
Also not included were the 158 Canadian Armed Forces members killed while serving in Afghanistan, since international definitions of terrorism focus on civilians. But since the Taliban is a listed terrorist group, there is also a case for counting them as victims of terrorism.
That gave us 50 attacks outside Canada since 2001 that killed 75 Canadians and injured 32.
Within Canada, we identified 16 attacks over the past decade that killed 29 and injured 54.