Like The Hub?
Join our community.
Join

India’s next diplomatic escalation? They could request Canada be investigated for funding terror

Commentary

The Canada-India relationship has been tense ever since Prime Minister Trudeau accused the Indian government of being complicit in the murder of Canadian-Sikh Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist who Indian officials allege was involved in terrorist activities in India. The Indian government responded by dismissing Canadian officials and suspending some visa services.

There is now speculation in the Indian media that the government’s next retaliatory step may be to request that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global body responsible for evaluating domestic policies with respect to money laundering and terrorist financing, conduct a review of Canada. The Indian government believes that Canada has been too permissive with respect to the flow of funding into Khalistani separatist organizations that it has designated as terrorist groups and that such a review would confirm its claims.

The Paris-based FATF was established in 1989 by the G7 to “examine and develop measures to combat money laundering.” Since its creation, the FATF has been responsible for monitoring money laundering techniques, reviewing action taken on national and international levels, as well as presenting measures that combat money laundering. Its mandate was expanded in 2001 to also include combatting terrorist financing in response to the 9/11 attacks that same year.

Canada is among the FATF’s nearly 40 nation-state members. As part of its membership, the FATF conducts a regular periodic review of Canadian policies and practices with respect to money laundering and terrorist financing, providing recommendations based on international best practices. The FATF’s last review was in 2016. The review set out 40 recommendations for changes to Canadian policies and practices, including monitoring charities for terror financing risks.

According to a follow-up report in 2021, the Canadian government was compliant with 11 recommendations, largely compliant with 23 recommendations, partially compliant with five recommendations, and non-compliant with one. Canada is due for another review in 2025.

Indian media outlets have reported that the Indian government may request the FATF to probe Canada before its regularly scheduled review. The Indian government reportedly intends to collect evidence of “terror funding and financing emanating from Canada and present it to the FATF.”

The FATF is not an adjudicative body like the World Trade Organization. It does not rule on disputes and its recommendations to national governments are non-binding, so it is not quite accurate to say India is going to “take” Canada to the FATF, as it has been reported in Indian media.

The FATF does administer a “grey list” for “jurisdictions under increased monitoring” and a “black list” for “high-risk jurisdictions subject to a call for action.” Examples of the former include Barbados, Haiti, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, while the latter consists of Iran and North Korea. Countries can be removed from these lists if appropriate measures are taken to assess terror financing risks, as seen with Pakistan’s removal from the “grey list” last year.

It is unlikely that the FATF would put Canada on either list, expert sources say. Rather, it is more probable that a FATF review (like the one anticipated for 2025) could simply find deficiencies in Canadian policies and recommend improvements.

The Canadian government itself launched a public consultation in August 2023 to examine ways to strengthen its anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing regime. In a March 2023 report on terrorist financing produced by the government, it outlined how CSIS has been shifting resources towards the threat of what is called “Ideologically motivated violent extremism.” This includes two organizations, Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation, associated with the Khalistani separatist movement. Both have been designated as terrorist groups by the Canadian government. The Canadian review of assessing terror funding—including possible policy changes that may result—is still ongoing.

Ariella Kimmel: Let my people go

Commentary

Arriving from Israel on a cold Sunday morning, eight family members of Jewish hostages currently held prisoner by the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip came to Ottawa to share their story and plead for Canadian support.

They visited Canada from October 29-31, just weeks after the Hamas terrorists murdered 1,200 Jews during a kill-and-capture raid against Israel on October 7. They met with politicians, spoke to the media, and appealed to ordinary citizens with one united message: “Don’t forget our stories. Bring our families home.” 

To those of us who spent time with these family members of the hostages, their stories did indeed become more vivid and real. Not social media abstractions but living human tragedies told by people longing to be able to hug their mothers, their nephews, their nieces, their uncles, and their aunts again. 

There was the story of Sapir, told by her family member Alexandra. Sapir had traveled to spend the Sabbath with her husband Alexander’s family at Kibbutz Nir Oz. Alexander’s father, Vitaly, 50, was murdered, while his mother Elena, 50, and grandmother Irina Tati, 73, were taken to Gaza as hostages. Aviv and Alexandra then learned of Sapir’s captivity by seeing a TikTok video of her paraded through the streets of Gaza, spit upon, beaten, and horrified.  

Then there is Aharon, who spoke so beautifully about his sister-in-law, Hagit, and her kindness, and the summer he spent with her and her children, Ofri, 10, Yuval, 8, and Uriah, 4, in Toronto. On October 7th all 4 were kidnapped from their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and taken to Gaza.

Itay and his mother Merav came to Ottawa to speak for her uncle and aunt, Avraham and Rute Munder, both of them 78 years old, who were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists along with their daughter Keren Munder, 54, and her son Ohad Munder Zichri. Ohad turned 9 while in captivity, rather than celebrating with his friends and family over a birthday cake, he is being held in cruel captivity.

Harel came to share the story of his niece Tiferet Lapidot. On October 7th, like any normal 22-year-old, Tiferet went to dance at the Nova music festival, before it turned into a site for terror and mass murder. Tiferet was murdered by Hamas terrorists at the Nova music festival where more than 260 innocent people were slaughtered.

And finally, there was Chen. Chen came to raise awareness about his mother Vivian Silver. Vivian was a Canadian, who moved to live at Kibbutz Be’eri where she built a beautiful life. She was a leader in the peace movement, committed to bringing unity to Israelis and Palestinians. On November 13th, Vivian was officially declared amongst the dead rather than missing. Listening to her son speak about her in the news conference, you learned about a woman who was full of light and kindness. Vivian devoted her life to the peace movement, building real and everlasting relationships with Palestinians in Gaza. It took five weeks to identify her body amongst the ruins of Kibbutz Be’eri, symbolizing the immense devastation caused by Hamas.

And yet amid the suffering, while listening to these stories, I felt ensconced by two emotions that seemed to be held by every single person present, Jew or non-Jew. Love: the kind of love we forget to feel so much of the time but streams powerfully from our hearts when our deepest sense of humanity is impacted. And will: Israel’s iron will to survive. To fight, win, and thrive. 

In the spring of each year, Jews around the world gather at the Passover table for Seder supper and recount the story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Through joy and song we remember that once we were slaves—without rights, without land—but now we are free, with our ancestral homeland in our permanent possession.

After spending precious, terrible moments with those whose loved ones are being held captive by the Hamas in Gaza, I also couldn’t help but reflect on the Seder meals I’m so grateful to have had and that I look forward to with my family.

The Haggada, the Jewish text that governs the Seder meal, gives considerable space to the hardships our ancestors faced—the bricks, the mortars, and the tears. It’s how we mourn and make meaning from our people’s suffering.

The next Seder, in Spring 2024, will become vividly and tragically personal for the Jewish community around the world as we meditate upon my people’s suffering and the meaning we make of it in moments of triumph, and in our stubborn refusal to be bullied, smeared, and eradicated.

The Jews’ exodus from Egypt began with four simple words from Moses: “Let my people go.”

Today, that message is directed to the terrorist cowards hiding behind 239 Jewish hostages—and, let’s not forget, innocent Palestinian civilians—as they rain rockets down on the world’s first and only Jewish State. 

Moses got his people back. And so will we.