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Canada is a target

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    While Canadians may rightly feel relieved by Friday s arrests, it s only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack occurs Canada is a target By ERIC
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 5, 2006
      While Canadians may rightly feel relieved by Friday's arrests, it's
      only a matter of time before a major terrorist attack occurs

      Canada is a target
      June 4, 2006

      PARIS -- Canadians got a taste of the real world over the past two

      The arrest Friday of 17 suspected terrorists is stark evidence
      Canadians can no longer expect to escape the private enterprise
      violence by small groups that we call "terrorism."

      Three weeks ago, I warned a conference of Department of National
      Defence staff and police officers that the greatest security threat to
      Canada would come not from the shadowy al-Qaida organization abroad,
      but from angry young Canadian Muslims opposed to Canada's presence in
      Afghanistan and its tacit support of U.S. policy in Iraq and

      The previous terrorist bombings in London and Madrid were not
      conducted by al-Qaida operatives freelancing from Afghanistan or

      They were carried out by young British-born Muslim men and Spanish
      residents opposed to their nation's intervention in Iraq and

      Is Canada now facing its own, home-grown violence?

      The 17 arrested men are all apparently Muslim, with one possible
      exception. The RCMP alleges the suspects planned to use three tons of
      fertilizer (ammonium nitrate) to build deadly truck bombs for use
      against targets in southern Ontario.

      This scenario is plausible. Radical Muslims around the world see
      western intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan as crimes against the
      Islamic world, part of a new anti-Muslim crusade directed from

      A small number of extremists may have decided to punish Canada for
      sending troops to fight in Afghanistan.

      If the RCMP and CSIS have in fact uncovered a major terrorist plot,
      kudos to them for a job well done.

      But caution is advised until all the facts are known.

      Before we rush to judgment, it's worth remembering the 19 foreign
      students, mostly from Pakistan, arrested in 2003 in and around
      Toronto, allegedly for plotting to blow up the nuclear reactors at
      Pickering or the CN Tower.

      After a huge media uproar and lurid claims the charges were dropped
      and the accused deported for visa irregularities.

      The Bush administration wants Canada to get tough on a wide assortment
      of Muslim groups and individuals protesting U.S. policy in the Muslim

      These raids by hundreds of Canadian security officers and police
      against a relatively small number of mostly young Muslim suspects in
      Mississauga, Toronto and Kingston suggest this high-profile operation
      may have been designed as much for public relations and diplomatic
      reasons as national security. No doubt, Washington will be very
      pleased with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

      But not everyone accused is always guilty.

      It's possible that among the 12 adults and five minors charged,
      Canadian security organizations have rounded up some loud-mouthed
      teenagers who have been encouraged to sedition by government "agents

      We won't know what really happened until the accused go to court. It
      appears an FBI investigation last month into a group of American
      Muslims from Atlanta who went to Toronto and met co-religionists there
      led to the current arrests.

      FBI and Canadian authorities believe they have uncovered an important
      terrorist cell plotting major attacks in Canada and the U.S. But the
      FBI's track record to date has not been impressive. Recall that of the
      more than 2,000 Muslims arrested in the U.S. since 2001 for suspicion
      of terrorism, less than 15 were convicted, and those mostly for minor
      visa offenses.

      In any event, by sending combat troops to Afghanistan, Canada has
      declared itself an active participant in the U.S.-led war against
      Islamic militancy. As a result, Canadians must now expect what CIA
      veterans refer to as "blow-back."

      Once admired by all and hated by none, Canada has now made itself a
      terrorist target.

      While Canadians may rightly feel relief for now, if history is any
      guide, it's only a matter of time before a major attack occurs. If not
      now, soon.


      Set up: Bomb-making material delivered in police sting
      Jun. 4, 2006

      The delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate to a group suspected
      of plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario was part of an
      undercover police sting operation, the Toronto Star has learned.

      The RCMP said yesterday that after investigating the alleged homegrown
      terrorist cell for months, they had to move quickly Friday night to
      arrest 12 men and five youths before the group could launch a bomb
      attack on Canadian soil.

      Sources say investigators who had learned of the group's alleged plan
      to build a bomb were controlling the sale and transport of the massive
      amount of fertilizer, a key component in creating explosives. Once the
      deal was done, the RCMP-led anti-terrorism task force moved in for the

      At a news conference yesterday morning, the RCMP displayed a sample of
      ammonium nitrate and a crude cell phone detonator they say was seized
      in the massive police sweep when the 17 were taken into custody.
      However, they made no mention of the police force's involvement in the

      "It was their intent to use it for a terrorist attack," said RCMP
      assistant commissioner Mike McDonell. "If I can put this in context
      for you, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma
      City that killed 168 people was completed with only one tonne of
      ammonium nitrate."

      Ammonium nitrate is a popular fertilizer, but when mixed with fuel oil
      it can create a powerful explosive.

      Standing behind McDonell were the chiefs of police from Toronto and
      Durham, York and Peel regions, as well as officials with the Ontario
      Provincial Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service —
      representing about 400 people involved with the investigation of the

      "This group posed a real and serious threat," said McDonell, speaking
      near a table with seized evidence such as a 9-mm Luger handgun,
      military fatigues and two-way radios. "It had the capacity and intent
      to carry out these acts."

      The suspects were allegedly planning to launch attacks in southern
      Ontario, but officials would not specify targets. Nor would they say
      if attacks were considered imminent.

      However, they did say the TTC was not a target. Sources told the Star
      that the Toronto headquarters of Canada's spy agency on Front St.,
      adjacent to the CN Tower, was on the group's alleged list.

      The names of the 12 adult suspects now in custody were made public
      yesterday, but identities of the youths under the age of 18 cannot be
      released, according to Canadian laws protecting minors. Of the adults,
      six are from Mississauga; four from Toronto and two were already
      incarcerated in Kingston on gun smuggling charges.

      The charges laid against the men included participating in or
      contributing to the activity of a terrorist group, including training
      and recruitment; providing or making available property for terrorist
      purposes; and the commission of indictable offences, including
      firearms and explosives offences for the benefit
      of or in association with a terrorist group.

      Charged are Fahim Ahmad, 21; Jahmaal James, 23; Amin Mohamed Durrani,
      19; and Steven Vikash Chand, 25, all of Toronto; Zakaria Amara, 20;
      Asad Ansari, 21; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21;
      Saad Khalid, 19; and Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, all of Mississauga; and
      Mohammed Dirie, 22 and Yasin Abdi Mohamed, 24, who are incarcerated in

      As officials spoke with reporters, the suspects were being loaded into
      unmarked vehicles at the Ajax-Pickering police station, where they had
      spent the night. Wearing leg irons and handcuffs, they were taken to a
      Brampton courtroom in groups of between two and six to appear before a
      justice of the peace.

      Anser Farooq, a lawyer who represents five of the accused, pointed at
      snipers on the roof of the courthouse and said: "This is ridiculous.
      They've got soldiers here with guns. This is going to completely
      change the atmosphere.

      "I think (the police) cast their net far too wide," he said, adding
      his clients are considering suing law enforcement agencies.

      The father of one accused, Mohammed Abdelhaleen, spoke outside the
      courthouse after his son's appearance, saying there is "no validation"
      to any of the charges against any of the suspects.

      "I have no idea what this is," said the distraught father. "I'm sure
      it's going to come to nothing. We're playing a political game here. I
      hope the judicial system realizes this."

      With quivering lips, the father said he was in "a very bad place right
      now. The damage is already done."

      Around the same time, Karl Nickner of the Canadian Council on
      American-Islamic Relations issued a statement that he is confident
      "the justice system will accord these individuals transparency, due
      process and the presumption of innocence."

      "We stand behind our security forces and the Canadian government in
      their desire to protect Canada," said the executive director. "As
      Canadian Muslims, we unequivocally condemn terrorism in all of its

      It's still unclear how the group of suspects is connected and police
      yesterday offered few details of its alleged activities. But sources
      close to the investigation told the Star that the investigation began
      in2004 when CSIS began monitoring fundamentalist Internet sites and
      their users.

      They later began monitoring a group of young men, and the RCMP
      launched a criminal investigation. Police allege the group later
      picked targets and plotted attacks.

      Last winter some members of the group, including the teenagers, went
      to a field north of the city, where they allegedly trained for an
      attack and made a video imitating warfare.

      Sources said some of the younger members forged letters about a bogus
      school trip to give to their parents so they could attend.

      Police said there were no known connections to Al Qaeda or
      international terrorist organizations, but that the group was
      homegrown, meaning the suspects were Canadian citizens, or long-time
      residents and had allegedly become radicalized here.

      This type of extremism was blamed for the suicide attacks in London
      last July which claimed the lives of 52 commuters travelling on the
      subway and a double-decker bus.

      "They appear to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired
      by Al Qaeda," said Luc Portelance of CSIS, adding there is no direct
      link to the network.

      John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute said he has long warned
      officials about the possibility of homegrown terrorists and what he
      dubbed the "jihad generation."

      "There's been a focus on (recruiting) younger Muslims, especially
      those who were mostly raised here," said Thompson, who is director of
      the Toronto-based think tank.

      Recruiters, or "ideological conditioners," he said, have been actively
      seeking members in Toronto-area mosques, community centres and schools
      since 2002.

      Officials have not linked the suspects to terror cells abroad, but
      Portelance was quick to point out the investigation is ongoing.

      Sources say the cases of two men from Georgia, now in custody in the
      U.S. facing terrorism charges, are connected to alleged members of the
      Canadian group.

      Yesterday, officials offered few details about the suspects or how
      they met, saying only they come from a "variety of backgrounds" and
      represented a broad strata, including students, the employed and

      "It is important to know that this operation in no way reflects
      negatively on any specific community or ethnocultural group in
      Canada," said Portelance. "Terrorism is a dangerous ideology, and a
      global phenomenon. ... Canada is not immune from this ideology."

      When asked why Canadians would want to attack targets in Canada,
      Portelance said: "Clearly, they're motivated by some of the things we
      see around the world," he said.

      "They're against the Western influences in Islamic countries and have
      an adherence to violence to reach a political objective. But as far as
      the specific motivators, I think they probably change from individual
      to individual."

      Speaking in Ottawa at an enrolment ceremony for 225 new Canadian
      military recruits, Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his views.

      "As at other times in our history, we are a target because of who we
      are and how we live, our society, our diversity and our values —
      values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law — the values
      that make Canada great, values that Canadians cherish."

      With files from Jessica Leeder, Harold Levy and Tonda MacCharles


      Police chief pleads for calm
      Jun. 4, 2006

      "I'm not shy to say that I think this whole thing's been timed,
      including the massive show of force, a little bit more than a week
      before the Supreme Court is to hear the appeals in Ottawa," he said.

      "The show of force in the courtroom, the number of officers, the
      helicopters, the snipers — it was excessive, and I think that's a
      political attempt to obliquely influence the Supreme Court hearing
      next week, and their judgment."


      Toronto police Chief Bill Blair called on both Muslims and non-Muslims
      alike to let cooler heads prevail Sunday after 17 people were arrested
      in connection with what authorities say was a plan to stage a massive
      terrorist attack. The 17 suspects who were arrested and charged on
      Friday, men and youths alike, were allegedly acting not out of faith,
      but a different ideology of hatred, Blair told a gathering of Muslim

      The suspects will be considered innocent until proven guilty, said
      Blair, who noted that any anger or fear spawned by allegations of a
      homegrown terrorist ring should not be directed at the Muslim community.

      "I would urge you to have confidence in our criminal justice system .
      . .in the due course of due process in our criminal justice system,
      justice will be done," Blair pledged.

      "In the interim, I hope that we can all work together to maintain the
      respect and trust and peace of our communities together."

      The 12 men who were charged in Friday's massive police operation range
      in age from 19 to 43 and are residents of Toronto, Mississauga and
      Markham, Ont., while the five youths cannot be identified under the
      Youth Criminal Justice Act.

      Two of the men charged — Mohammed Dirie, 22, and Yasin Abdi Mohamed,
      24 — are already in custody at a prison in Kingston, Ont., after they
      were caught trying to smuggle guns across the U.S. border last August.

      Police allege the 17 were involved in a plot to stage a massive
      terrorist attack by fashioning explosives out of three tonnes of
      ammonium nitrate fertilizer — three times the quantity used in the
      Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995.

      Blair's message of "peace and harmony" came after dozens of windows
      were smashed overnight at a west-end Toronto mosque. Police wouldn't
      speculate on whether or not the vandalism was related to the arrests,
      but Blair indicated it may have been motivated by hate.

      Both Toronto police and the city's residents are committed to
      maintaining a safe environment for everyone and hatred in any form
      will not be tolerated, he said.

      Eunof Baksh, the building's caretaker, said people were distraught
      when they saw the broken glass Sunday morning.

      "Somebody's breaking up the church. We're upset," said Baksh, who
      added he was at a loss to explain why anyone would damage the building.

      "I have no idea," he said.

      The charges allege that the men knowingly participated in a terrorist
      group and either received of provided terrorist training in Toronto,
      nearby Mississauga, Fort Erie — a border town across from Buffalo,
      N.Y. — and Ramara Township, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe in
      central Ontario's cottage county.

      Police refused to say what the terror suspects considered targets,
      although officials ruled out the Toronto Transit Commission — a
      massive public transit system that includes buses, subways and

      Fear and apprehension seemed to fill the room of the east-end centre
      where Blair and several other Muslim community leaders were gathered

      One Muslim leader suggested the arrests may have been timed to
      coincide with upcoming Supreme Court of Canada hearings into the
      constitutionality of security certificates, which allow the
      authorities to indefinitely detain, without charge, anyone who is
      considered a threat to national security.

      "The timing is a little troubling," said Zafar Bangash, of the
      Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought.

      "As members of the community we do require some answers from our
      political leaders and other segments of the law enforcement agencies."

      Lawyer Rocco Galati, who represents two of the men arrested on Friday,
      agreed that the timing of the arrests looked suspicious, as was the
      massive show of force Saturday when several of the suspects appeared
      in court.

      Snipers could be seen atop neighbouring buildings, helicopters
      throbbed overhead and heavily armed police were all over the place,
      said Galati, who described the security measures as excessive.

      "I'm not shy to say that I think this whole thing's been timed,
      including the massive show of force, a little bit more than a week
      before the Supreme Court is to hear the appeals in Ottawa," he said.

      "The show of force in the courtroom, the number of officers, the
      helicopters, the snipers — it was excessive, and I think that's a
      political attempt to obliquely influence the Supreme Court hearing
      next week, and their judgment."

      Galati said he wasn't surprised by the vandalism given the media
      hoopla surrounding the arrests.

      "Of course it's going to engender backlash," Galati said.

      "I hope people keep their wits, but this is the problem with this kind
      of public show before any allegations are actually read into court."

      At one point during Sunday's news conference, Blair was asked whether
      there was any possibility that the 17 suspects were victims of racial

      "At no time was racial profiling a factor in this investigation," he

      Farhad Oryakhim, 17, an employee at an east-end shop, said he's
      concerned about how Muslims in Canada are going to be treated in the
      wake of the arrests.

      "It's going to be a pretty hard time now," Oryakhim said. ``After this
      incident, people are going to look at the Muslims from a dangerous view."

      Oryakhim said he fears that non-Muslim customers will stop patronizing
      businesses in the area that are run by Muslims.

      "It's going to hurt our businesses," he said. "Our life."



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