Workers from St. Eugene Catholic School in Hamilton, Ont., where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's son is enrolled, pay respects at a makeshift memorial in honour of Cirillo, outside the family home Oct. 24. Cirillo was murdered Oct. 22 at the National War Memorial.

CNS PHOTO | MARK BLINCH, REUTERS

Workers from St. Eugene Catholic School in Hamilton, Ont., where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo's son is enrolled, pay respects at a makeshift memorial in honour of Cirillo, outside the family home Oct. 24. Cirillo was murdered Oct. 22 at the National War Memorial.

November 3, 2014
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

OTTAWA – Anti-terrorism experts warn terror attacks involving lone assailants are likely to increase, but faith leaders urge a Christian response to ensure Canada remains an open society.

"This is a time of profound national sadness for all Canadians," said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher Oct. 24 in response to two attacks on Canadian soldiers during the week of Oct. 20.

"We worry that the horror of terrorism is taking root in our soil, so long a land of peace, cooperation and inter-cultural collaboration," said Durocher. "God created us to experience the fullness of life and love. This outbreak of violence contradicts God's intention for each one of us."

Catholics at all levels remain committed to dialogue with Muslim communities across Canada, he stressed.

"We recognize that violent distortions of Islam are causing misunderstanding and suffering in the world and in Canada for peace-loving Muslims as well as non-Muslim communities.

"Openness, trust, and sharing are ever more essential between our faith communities to help build understanding in this challenging environment," said Durocher.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) executive director Joe Gunn said two of his staff were trapped for 10 hours on Parliament Hill Oct. 22 after a gunman rampaged through the halls of Centre Block, an "incredibly violent event," after shooting Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial.

CPJ's initial response was prayers and condolences for the two soldiers, the others who were injured and all the families that were affected, Gunn said.

"It's come to a time where we really need to put our thinking caps on and think of what this means from our Christian values," he said.

"Civil liberties and public safety, we need both," he said. "They don't need to be counter-posed."

There has been much debate about whether the attacks were carried out by deranged individuals and the extent of their links to organized jihad.

For Robert Spencer, bestselling author and director of Jihadwatch.org, there is no doubt about the motivations of the killers in Quebec and Ottawa.

"Ahmad Rouleau [who ran down two soldiers in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu Oct. 20] told 911 he was acting in the cause of Allah," said Spencer, who is a Melkite Greek Catholic.

"Michael Zehaf-Bibeau [the Ottawa shooter] recorded a video which authorities have not released, but which they say makes clear that he acted out of 'ideological and political motives.'

"As his passport had already been revoked after he tried to go to Syria to join the Islamic State, it is clear what those motives were," said Spencer.

Before the recent attacks, the Mounties and CSIS admitted 130 Canadians had gone overseas to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS) and 90 individuals were under watch, said Toronto-based terrorism expert John Thompson with the Strategic Capital Intelligence Group.

"That's a number that's been growing steadily for the past 10 years," Thompson said. People on the inside, responsible for security are "overtaxed and under resourced and are having a hard time keeping up with a dramatically growing threat."

All across Europe, North America and Australia, "the threat is growing beyond our ability to contain it," he said. "We're going to have to change the rules, no doubt about that."

At the same time, Canadians should worry about the militarization of the police and responses that can be heavy-handed, he said.

Political correctness regarding the role of radical Islam is "extremely dangerous," Spencer said. "It fosters ignorance and complacency, and intimidates people into thinking there is something wrong with resisting jihad terror and Islamic supremacism."

The lack of willingness to recognize the nature and severity of the threat also concerns former CSIS chief of strategic planning David Harris, an Ottawa lawyer who directs the International Terrorist Intelligence program for INSIGNIS Strategic Research.

The attacks like those of Oct. 20-22 are "going to happen a lot more often because we have, with great success, established the conditions necessary for the metastasizing and proliferating of terrorist outrages," Harris said.

One of the difficulties when there is a dramatic event like that in Ottawa, is "we don't tend to see what is going on at the more subtle levels of subversion and influence," he said.

"The general public are about 20 years behind in understanding how their country has changed around them and under them," he said. "A radical infrastructure has been coalescing and consolidating as we have been living our lives unaware."