Anti-American group Résistance internationaliste has taken responsibility for the July 2 bombing of a military recruiting facility in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. In its communique, emailed earlier today to Montreal newspaper La Presse, the fringe group denounces globalization, the Canadian presence in Afghanistan, the pharmaceutical and banking industries, and the Canadian military in general.
Résistance internationaliste has previously taken responsibility for two other terrorist attacks in Quebec. In 2004 the group attempted to blow up a Hydro-Quebec installation because the company was supplying low-cost electricity to the United States. In 2006, they claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded in the car of a high profile petroleum industry spokesman.
Four waves of terrorism
Terrorism expert Michel Juneau-Katsuya, formerly a high ranking CSIS intelligence officer, identifies four distinct waves of terrorism occurring since September 11, 2001. The first and second waves he identifies as that of al-Qaeda in its initial 911 attacks, and terrorist acts perpetrated by groups that support al-Qaeda’s political agenda. The third wave is that of the so-called “home-grown” terrorist groups like the Toronto-18.
The fourth wave is terrorism committed by anarchist and special interest groups. The Trois-Rivières bombing, says Juneau-Katsuya, belongs to this last wave. He similarly identifies the firebombing of an Ottawa bank over its connection to the 2010 Winter Olympics, as part of this fourth wave of terrorist acts.
No injuries caused by the bomb
Résistance internationaliste underlines in its communique that they made two calls for the evacuation of the building before the bomb exploded. No one was in the military recruiting office at the time of the bombing, nor in any of the adjoining businesses. There were no injuries caused by the explosion, although a few passersby were shaken up. Quebec bars close at 3:00 am, so it is not unusual that there would be people in the street at this time.
Michel Juneau-Katsuya, discussing the terrorist attack on LCN, made mention of the relatively small amount of damage to the recruiting office, possibly due to the fact that the explosive device was placed between the two sets of front doors. The device may have malfunctioned, he said, or it may simply have been intended to draw attention but not to cause harm. Juneau-Katsuya did not imply any escalation of violence, but did remind the public that the bombing could have caused injuries even if this was not the intention of those who planted it.
Irony of the bomb attack
There is a certain irony in the fact that a group that so strongly opposes the military turns to acts of violence in order to get their message out to the public. Résistance internationaliste devotes almost all of its communique to accusations of violence and corruption within the Canadian military and to complaining on how much taxpayer money is spent on the military – money that it feels is taken away from social programs that would help workers and ensure that no child goes hungry.
Of course taxpayers will have to foot the bill for repairs to the army recruiting offices, for the police investigations and for the emergency services and specialist teams that were called to the scene to ensure the public safety.
There is a similar irony in the choice of a Hydro-Quebec installation as one of the previous targets. Hydro-Quebec stands as a cornerstone of the Quiet Revolution, the establishment of a single power company to supply electricity to all people in the province without relying on companies in the U.S. or the rest of Canada truly made the people of Quebec maîtres chez-nous, “masters in our own house.”
While the message is clear that Résistance internationaliste opposes the exporting of this precious electricity to the United States, it is the Quebec taxpayers whose electric bills go up when the company must make unexpected repairs on a large scale.
Echoes of the FLQ
Targeting federal and military installations is not a new tactic for terrorists in Quebec. The violence of Quebec’s 1970 October Crisis escalated from bank robberies and mailbox bombings, to kidnappings and the execution of a provincial Cabinet Minister. Armed forces personnel paid a hefty price at the time. Warrant Officer Walter Leja of the 3rd Engineer Regiment in Westmount was gravely wounded when he tried to disarm a mailbox bomb and it exploded. Wilfred O’Neill, a night watchman at Montreal’s army recruiting center, was killed in another bombing.
Today’s communique echoes some of what was written in the FLQ’s 1970 manifesto. The focus on the suffering of the working class, the condemnation of the banks and the government, the anti-American sentiment are all to be found in both documents. And in both, an attempt to excuse the violence committed by claiming it is the only weapon with which to counter the violence the groups perceive around them.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
“FLQ crisis.” Canadiansoldiers.com
“Manifesto of the FLQ (1970).” Marianopolis College
“Presentation by the unions representing Hydro-Québec workers.” CUPE
Daniel Proussalidis, “Glebe fire linked to ‘fourth wave of terrorism’.” 580 CFRA news Talk Radio
“La revendication de l’attentat à Trois-Rivières.” La Presse
“L’attentat contre l’armée à Trois-Rivières est revendiqué.” La Presse
“Interview with former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya.” LCN