Cold war counter-terrorism: the evolution of international counter-terrorism in the RCMP security service, 1972-1984

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


This piece provides a detailed case study of the evolution of counter-terrorism agency within a liberal-democratic state in the context of the Cold War. It does so by examining how the domestic counter-terrorism unit within Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service responded to international terrorism. This occurred in between major terrorist attacks in Canada in 1971 and 1985 and included a growing focus on countering terrorism even as counter-subversion remained a top priority within a still dominant Cold War domestic security framework. Ultimately, the article, based on thousands of pages of previously secret documents, argues that the Security Service could conceive of in a broader strategic sense the threat of terrorism but found it more difficult, because of the Cold War and its own limitations as a mono-cultural institution, to collect intelligence, particularly within an increasingly diverse country.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalIntelligence and National Security
Early online date9 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 May 2017


  • counter-terrorism, RCMP, Police, terrorism, 9/11, Canada, surveillance, subversion, Cold War, FBI