Canada Blacklists Somali group, al-Shabab, because of involvement with terrorism

March 08, 2010 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News, Canadian Charity Law, Global Giving, Avoiding 'Charity' Scams

The Canadian government recently blacklisted a Somali group called al-Shabab for involvement with terrorism.  Canadian charities and individuals must take care not to support directly or indirectly any groups that are on Canada’s terrorism watch list.  Here is an article that I recently wrote on “Canadian Charities and Terrorism - Preventing Abuse of your favourite charity” - http://www.capacitybuilders.ca/files/resources/Canadian_Charities_and_Terrorism_-_Preventing_Abuse_of_Your_Favourite_Charity_1262115622.pdf

Here is a recent Globe and Mail article on the blacklisting:


Colin Freeze

Globe and Mail Update
Published on Sunday, Mar. 07, 2010 6:19PM EST

Last updated on Sunday, Mar. 07, 2010 6:25PM EST

.Ottawa has opened a new front in its global conflict with Islamic extremism by joining the attack on al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group in East Africa that draws young recruits and support from Canada and around the world.

Leading an Islamist insurgency in Somalia, al-Shabab – literally “the youth”—uses the Internet to draw young recruits from abroad even as it applies to medieval punishments to alleged infidels at home. The militants’ frequent use of suicide bombers and their draconian application of Sharia law have led to frequent comparisons with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The federal government announced Sunday that it has formally designated al-Shabab a terrorist organization under Canadian law, which will enable the Crown to seize money and assets belonging to al-Shabab fronts that exist in Canada. It should also make it easier to launch prosecutions against local operatives and recruiters.

“All I can say is we are watching this organization very closely,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in an interview. He said he could not speak to any police operations that may be coming.

But “We certainly believe they have a presence here, that’s clear,” he said.

Several young men from the Toronto region have travelled to East Africa in recent months, apparently to join al-Shabab fighters. Agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP have been canvassing Somali neighbourhoods to seek leads on the whereabouts of these young men and possibly to lay the foundations of criminal investigations.

It is Somali-Canadians at large who are the most worried about the growing reach of the terrorist group, according to Mr. Toews. “There is a great deal of concern in the community over the radical elements,” he said.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom blacklisted al-Shabab, with the United States and Australia already having done so.

Mr. Toews acknowledged Canada lagged behind, but said authorities first had to assemble sufficient evidence that the group was active here before blacklisting al-Shabab.

The last group designated as a terrorist entity by the Conservative Canadian government was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers. Quickly afterward, the RMCP seized buildings and assets associated with an alleged LTTE front group operating in Toronto and Montreal.

When Western governments team up to blacklist terrorist groups, the coordinated approach can pay dividends. The Tamil Tigers’ use of suicide bombers and political assassinations had drawn international condemnation for decades, but it was only after authorities in Europe, the United States, and Canada stepped up enforcement in recent years that the Tigers were starved of money and materiel.

Sri Lanka’s army vanquished the Tigers last spring.

Shutting down the Shabab may prove more difficult. Somalia is anarchic and has operated without a functional government for nearly two decades. Al-Shabab and other Islamist insurgents are seeking to fill the power vacuum.

Mr. Toews said he would not speak to any operations Canadian police might launch against al-Shabab.

But “I know police will proceed where they have appropriate evidence,” he said.

Do you require legal advice with respect to Canadian or Ontario non-profits or charities?

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Charity Lawyer Mark Blumberg

Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.

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