WASHINGTON, October 24 (RIA Novosti) — Canada has been a target of the terrorist groups for many years, and an attack on Canadian soil was to be expected, Assistant Professor Thomas Juneau from the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs told RIA Novosti.
"The Canadian government had been saying for a number of years that an attack on Canadian soil or against Canadian interest was more a question of when, not if, in the sense that it was to be expected that at some point either a terrorist organization or an individual jihadist would try an attack in Canada. Nobody was able to predict exactly when and exactly how, but once it happened, everybody is surprised. Ultimately though, we should keep in mind that it was to be expected," Juneau told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"Canada was in Afghanistan for many years. Canada is a member of NATO. Canada has been involved in other operations abroad. Canada is a very close ally of the United States and a member the western group of countries. All of that are more than enough to make you a target of these groups," he said.
Juneau added that it is not determined yet whether the Ottawa shooting is related to Canada's participation in Iraq or not.
"However, I think it is absolutely not a given, it's absolutely not a guarantee that this was reprisal for Canada's participation in Iraq, because Canada had been a target of the al-Qaeda, Canada had been a target of the Islamic State for many years. I think it is entirely possible that we could have been targeted over the years even if we did not make the decision a month ago to go to Iraq," Juneau said.
On Wednesday morning, a soldier was shot and killed by a gunman guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The shooter then proceeded to Parliament Hill's Center Block, where he was killed in a shootout with a policeman.
Local media reported that gunshots were also fired Wednesday in the Canadian Parliament building and in a mall in downtown Ottawa.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed the public following the incident saying that Canada lacks immunity from terror attacks.
The Wednesday incident came just two days after two members of the Canadian Armed Forces were attacked Monday in the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Quebec. One of the soldiers died after the hit-and-run, while the other sustained less severe injuries.
Although the investigation is ongoing and much is unknown, Juneau thinks it is already reasonable to label both the Wednesday and Monday events as terrorism.
"One of the basic elements of what defines terrorism is the symbolic aspect, is the heavily political dimension of the targets you choose. That's one of the differences between a terrorist act and a criminal act," he explained. "When you target uniformed soldiers, especially on a war memorial like yesterday, when you target a nation's parliament, that's political."
Juneau went on to say that the Ottawa killer did not shoot anyone on his way to the parliament.
"He could have shot a lot of people, because on that street there were hundreds of people. He didn't because he wanted to make it to parliament. So in my mind the symbolic aspect of that dimension is what really makes it terrorism," he said.
Juneau also warned that it is very important to avoid jumping to conclusions too fast regarding not only what happened, but more importantly what the response is going to be.
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