Canadian banks are re-examining security measures ahead of the G8 and G20 meetings in Ontario after a self-described anarchist group claimed responsibility for firebombing an RBC branch in the Glebe early Tuesday morning.

In a manifesto posted online hours after the fire, the group said it plans to stage protests at the upcoming G8 and G20 meetings in Huntsville, Ont. and Toronto in June.

The security review comes after flames ripped through the ATM area of an RBC branch on Bank Street and First Avenue at about 3:30 a.m., destroying the bank's entrance and causing heat and smoke damage to the rest of the building.

A video of the fire posted to an anti-establishment website shows a man fleeing the bank's foyer through the side door as flames rush through the front of the building, shattering windows and littering the sidewalk with debris.

The identity of the group remains unknown. However, the anarchists are now on the radar of a special police unit, including the RCMP and national defence officials, which monitors potential threats related to the G8.

Terror threat?

A former senior intelligence officer with CSIS told CTV News Channel the group's actions will likely heighten security at the upcoming international meetings.

"It reveals the vulnerability of society in general and this is what is so shocking for the general public, this is what is so worrisome for the authorities," said Michel Juneau-Katsuya.

"These guys have crossed a line now and the Anti-Terrorist Act can be used against them because they basically did an act of terrorism and that is taken very, very seriously."

However, police insist their case remains an arson investigation. Police say they need to look at the motivation behind the attack to determine if any other charges will be laid.

"We have limited information right now that we are prepared to release in regards to the suspect," said Acting Insp. Don Sweet of the Ottawa police. He added the tech unit is now looking at the video.

The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies says the next step is to determine if the attack can be considered a possible terror threat.

"If it can be shown through the writings or through the individuals involved, once they've been identified that they were intending to just act out their anger against the Royal Bank, then that's a criminal activity and it's arson," said senior researcher Tom Quiggin.

"If however, their intent is to create a larger atmosphere of fear and intimidation in an attempt to change what the policymakers think at the G20 or the G8 conference or to change the direction that the Royal Bank is taking, then that rises to the level of terrorism."

RBC singled out

Quiggin said RBC has become a target of anarchist groups because of its involvement with the Olympics. The bank's CEO is also on the Canadian Council of Chief Executive Officers, which draws the attention of anti-globalization and anti-capitalist groups.

RBC branches in Ottawa have been the target of anarchist attacks at least five times, according to Quiggin. The branch in the Glebe has been targeted two times in 2008, including an incident where the front windows of the bank were smashed.

The anarchist group's manifesto, singles out RBC as a target in the online video because of its involvement with the Olympics.

"The Vancouver Olympic games are over, but a torch is still burning," reads the manifesto.

"Royal Bank Canada was a major sponsor of the recently concluded 2010 Olympics on stolen indigenous land. This land was never legally ceded to colonial British Columbia."

The manifesto goes on to say the Olympics increased homelessness in Vancouver's downtown east side. It also criticizes the bank's involvement with the oil and gas industry: "RBC is now the major financier of Alberta's tar sands, one of the largest industrial projects in human history and perhaps the most destructive."

The manifesto is signed FFFC – Ottawa, at the corner of Bank Street and First Avenue.

RBC increases security

Although a spokesperson for RBC told CTV Ottawa the bank is increasing security at its Ottawa branch and elsewhere, she would not provide specific details. She also would not comment on the claims made by the anarchists.

"RBC won't respond to inflammatory comment made by those who use violence to express views," said RBC spokesperson Gillian McArdle.

She added the bank is proud of its reputation as a "good corporate citizen."

Early estimates predict the fire caused $300,000 in damage, and could force the bank to close for up to three weeks.

Meantime, RBC customers can continue to do their banking at other RBC branches. The 15 employees who work at the branch have temporarily been reassigned to other locations.

Anyone with information about the fire or the group's video is asked to contact Ottawa police at 613-236-1222, ext. 2199 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS).

With files from CTV Ottawa's Kate Eggins