Loss of Faith: How the Air-India Bombers Got Away with Murder
Jason Gregory Zorbas is the editor of Saskatchewan History and a
sessional lecturer in the History Department, University of
On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 exploded over the coast of
Ireland, killing all 331 people on board. It was and remains the worst
case of terrorism in Canadian history. Twenty years later, two of the
key suspects were tried in a Canadian court and found not guilty. Loss
of Faith is the story of the Canadian justice system’s failure to find
and convict those responsible for the destruction of Flight 182.
The author, Kim Bolan, is a journalist with the Vancouver Sun who
covered the events of the bombing and the subsequent investigation for
over 20 years, becoming in the process a character in the story she was
reporting. Her well-written account is a gripping narrative of terrorist
organizations in Canada, threats, murders, and inter-agency squabbling.
She tells it with a journalist’s knack for creating empathy with the
victims. Her description of the flight’s final moments is deeply
The narrative begins in India, where Sikh organizations in the Punjab
were agitating for the creation of an independent state. This movement
culminated in extremists taking control of one of Sikhism’s holiest
places, the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Indian government eventually
stormed the Temple, leaving hundreds dead. It was in retaliation for
this act that Flight 182 was destroyed.
The Sikh community in Canada was intimately tied to the independence
movement in the Punjab and thus, by extension, to the bombing of Flight
182. Bolan explores the tension within the Sikh community, particularly
between moderates and extremists. She also documents the many and
extensive ties that Sikh terrorists had to Canada.
Bolan’s account of the failure of the RCMP and other government
agencies to deal with terrorist cells that were, in many ways, operating
in plain sight is sobering, particularly in light of the current “War
on Terrorism.” Their ultimate failure to convict the suspects in the
bombing gives further pause.