By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, May 9, 2013 - 0 Comments
Government claims Adil Charkaoui spoke of hijacking a plane and a possible biochemical attack
Adil Charkaoui was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent and terror threat who spoke of hijacking a plane and of a possible biochemical attack on Montreal’s Metro system, the federal government contends in startling new documents.
The allegations are the latest salvo by the Department of Justice in a 10-year legal battle against the Moroccan-born Charkaoui. A permanent resident of Canada since 1995, Charkaoui was arrested in 2003 on security certificates and spent 21 months in jail and several years under virtual house arrest, fighting deportation. In an apparent rebuke of Canada’s counter-terrorist methods, a federal judge halted proceedings against him in 2009. Charkaoui left court a free man, triumphantly snipping his court-ordered GPS tracking unit off his ankle on the way out.
Now, for the first time, the government has outlined exactly how it believes Charkaoui, who lives in Montreal, was a grave threat to national security. Charkaoui, who has always maintained his innocence, sued the federal government for $26.5 million in 2010, claiming it had for years unfairly targeted him as a terrorist. In its statement of defence filed last Friday, Canada’s Attorney General’s office lays out some of the government’s evidence against the 39-year-old father of four. Among its allegations: that Charkaoui associated with some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, including so-called “Millennium Bomber” Ahmed Ressam and 9/11 mastermind Zacarias Moussaoui, and attended al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.
By macleans.ca - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
Why we need to adjust our expectations
The current global war on terror seems unlike any war familiar to Canadians.
From revelations earlier this month that a pair of high school friends from London, Ont., died in a raid led by al-Qaeda on an Algerian gas plant, to last week’s bombing of the Boston Marathon, to this week’s arrest of Chiheb Esseghaier in Montreal and Raed Jaser in Toronto for allegedly plotting to derail a Toronto-to-New York Via Rail train—terrorism, it seems, is all around us.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the clash between radical Islam and the West can never be won in the conventional sense of the word. As such, we may need to adjust our expectations of those charged with keeping us safe, and learn to appreciate notable victories—such as the dismantling of the Via train plot—as we lament high-profile defeats in the war on terror.
By The Associated Press and The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 12:32 PM - 0 Comments
A recap of the country’s complicated connections with the terror group
Canadian authorities claim al-Qaeda operatives in Iran directed a failed plot to attack a passenger train. Iran denies it has any links to the two suspects. What falls in between is Iran’s complicated history with the terror group that has included outright hostility, alliances of convenience and even overtures by Tehran to assist Washington after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, February 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM - 0 Comments
The French president launched a war in Mali just as his popularity hit an all-time low
François Hollande probably never expected to be a wartime president. To be fair, until Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French Socialist Party’s presumed nominee for president, flamed out amid allegations of sexual assault in 2011, Hollande likely never expected he’d lead the country at all.
He is an “accidental” president, says John Gaffney, co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe at Aston University in Britain, one who triumphed over incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy—whose pomposity made a nation sick of him after only one term in office—largely by virtue of the fact that he wasn’t Sarkozy.
Still, to the extent that Hollande seemed likely to do anything bold, launching a unilateral war would not have featured on many analysts’ predictions before this year. Hollande campaigned on a promise to end France’s combat role in Afghanistan a year earlier than scheduled, and did so. In October, during a visit to Senegal, he declared the end of the era of Françafrique, referring to France’s meddling in its former African colonies. Continue…
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Monday, January 28, 2013 at 10:15 AM - 0 Comments
In conversation with Luiza Ch. Savage
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was in Washington this week to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama. As Americans gathered for the public ceremony and the black-tie galas, the minister attended the Canadian Embassy’s invitation-only inaugural “tailgate” party at its plum location on Pennsylvania Avenue, which featured Beavertails, Tim Hortons coffee and some of the best views in the U.S. capital.
Q: You’re here for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Are you going to any balls?
A: No, I’m not. I’m not a ball guy.
Q: Can you imagine a million Canadians coming to Ottawa because a Prime Minister was taking the oath of office?
A: I was just telling someone that I remember when the Prime Minister was sworn in. I think we had cookies and coffee afterward. Then there was a dinner for the cabinet that evening, with the food prepared in the parliamentary restaurant. They certainly do things much grander here in the United States. The sense of national pride is exciting. One thing that is bittersweet for me is Hillary leaving. We had a great relationship. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:30 AM - 0 Comments
Michael Petrou on why this war may be unavoidable
Robert Fowler got to know the Islamists now battling French and Malian troops in northern Mali pretty well during the 130 days he spent as their hostage in 2008 and 2009. Then the UN secretary general’s special envoy for Niger, he and fellow Canadian diplomat Louis Guay were kidnapped by al-Qaeda’s African franchise and lived with them in desert camps until they were freed.
Fowler describes men more single-minded than any he had previously encountered. Their devotion to Islam was constant, as were their attempts to convert them. They showed no interest in the usual concerns of young men: music, sports, fashion, sex. “The mujahedeen seemed perfectly content to talk and chant about Allah and their servitude to Him endlessly,” writes Fowler in a memoir. Life on Earth was a blink of the eye, and death was nothing when you would live in paradise forever. They hoped to die soon in the service of jihad, or holy war. Around the campfire, young recruits listened with wide-eyed wonder to stories of battles against Algerian soldiers that left a battlefield strewn with their apostate enemies’ blackened limbs—proof, if it was needed, that God was on their side. And yet for all their spiritual obsessions, Fowler’s al-Qaeda captors had practical strategies about how Islam’s victory in this world might be achieved. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 11:22 PM - 0 Comments
Is there are a French television show equivalent of The Simpsons? If so, its writers should start working on some catchy anti-American slurs that imply military cowardice.
It was The Simpsons, back in 1995, that first dubbed the French “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” — a phrase that gained renewed currency in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq war, which France declined to join.
The barb stuck, at least in America, Britain and Canada, where it played into popular perceptions about France’s quick defeat and subsequent collaboration in the Second World War, and about its perceived disdain for America and Britain in general. For defenders of France, the sneer simply underlined America’s supposed penchant for imperialism in contrast to France’s preference for diplomacy and multilateralism.
These stereotypes were not accurate then and aren’t now. France has always been willing to act with force, and without permission, when doing so suited its interests. And from France’s perspective, many of its interests are in its former colonies in Africa. It’s not surprising then that on Friday France launched a military intervention in Mali, where al-Qaeda and other Islamists have taken over the northern half of the country and were poised to push south, threatening the capital Bamako. Continue…
By Michael Petrou - Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM - 0 Comments
A Michael Petrou report: Islamist terrorists spread chaos and fear in Africa while the West dithers
When Robert Fowler, who spent 130 days as an al-Qaeda hostage in the Sahara Desert, is asked how he’s doing, he often says he’s doing fine, then adds: “So are my former captors.” In December 2008, Fowler, then the UN Secretary General’s special envoy for Niger, was kidnapped along with his colleague, Louis Guay, in Niger and spirited to northern Mali. The two Canadian diplomats lived in punishing conditions and under the threat of execution for more than four months, until their freedom was negotiated—in exchange, it seems, for a ransom and the release of al-Qaeda terror suspects.
Fowler is now safely back in the embrace of his family in Ottawa, and he sometimes has the bizarre experience of watching YouTube videos of Omar, one of the men who kidnapped him, brandishing a Kalashnikov and issuing hyperbolic threats against France, the United States and all the countries in NATO.
Omar has a lot to gloat about these days. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), along with affiliated Islamist groups, controls the northern two-thirds of Mali, an area roughly the size of France. Their territory consists mostly of desert, but also contains several cities, including fabled Timbuktu, whose ancient Muslim shrines and monuments al-Qaeda has destroyed because of the supposed affront they present to its rigid interpretation of Islam. While American drone strikes have decimated al-Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan, it is comparatively unmolested, and flourishing, in Africa.
By macleans.ca - Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 11:03 AM - 0 Comments
Bringing Khadr home was the right thing, but let’s not rush the process of integration
Canadian citizen, convicted terrorist and diplomatic conundrum Omar Khadr is back home. Flown in on an American military transport early Saturday morning, Khadr’s first appearance in his birth country since 2001 seemed to come rather suddenly, particularly given the protracted political and legal debates over his capture, incarceration and repatriation. What brought things to a head so quickly? And was the right decision made?
It seems Maclean’s played a key role in the timing of Khadr’s return. Two weeks ago Senior Writer Michael Friscolanti unveiled important new information on this polarizing file when he obtained the transcript of a seven-hour interview from 2010 between Khadr and forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner at the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay. Friscolanti’s cover story (“The secret Khadr file,” National, Oct. 1) revealed for the first time the contents of this much-discussed but never-seen video footage.
News of our exclusive story immediately put the heat on long-standing diplomatic discussions to bring Khadr home. According to the Toronto Star, our access to the secret U.S. military document was considered a serious “breach of trust” by the Obama White House and forced Canada’s hand. CTV National News similarly identified our cover story as the accelerant in convincing Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to agree to accept Khadr, something Ottawa said it would “favourably consider” more than two years ago.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 9:15 AM - 0 Comments
Child soldier. Convicted terrorist. Khadr is about to return to Canada, but no one has been able to see his full seven-hour interview at Guantánamo Bay. Until now.
Omar Khadr has spent so much of his young life answering questions. (Some honestly, some not.) The faces of his interrogators have changed over the years—men, women, American, Canadian—but the questions rarely did. The gist of every grilling was the same. How does a 15-year-old kid from Toronto end up on the front lines of Afghanistan? What was your father’s relationship with Osama bin Laden? Did you throw the grenade that killed Sgt. Christopher Speer? (As one CSIS spy famously told him: “You didn’t just fall off the turnip truck . . . You could probably tell us a lot of interesting things.”)
On June 15, 2010, the man asking the questions was not a nameless interrogator. It was Michael Welner, a prominent forensic psychiatrist based in New York. Hired by Pentagon prosecutors, Welner’s job was, among other things, to personally assess Khadr in advance of his much-anticipated war crimes trial. When they sat down together that Tuesday morning, inside the razor wire of Guantánamo Bay, Khadr was a few months shy of his 24th birthday. With a full beard and a muscular frame, he looked nothing like the bony teenager who was shot and captured by U.S. troops eight years before.
“If I had to ask you about the five worst memories that you have in your life, what are they?” Welner asked him.
By Gustavo Vieira - Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 10:09 AM - 0 Comments
The suicide bomber who was supposed to board a U.S.-bound plane to blow up…
The suicide bomber who was supposed to board a U.S.-bound plane to blow up a bomb on board in April was actually an infiltrated Saudi intelligence agent working with the C.I.A., says the Associated Press.
In a story worthy of a 007 film, the agent was able to deliver to the C.I.A. the bomb, plans and other information about the affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, where he spent several years cooperating with the C.I.A., including providing precise information on the location of Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Al-Quso, who was killed by a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen on Sunday. The agent, whose name has not been disclosed, has since been moved to a safe location in Saudi Arabia.
An American congressmen quoted by The New York Times commented about the Associated Press reporting on the operation, even after the agency kept the story secret for days under a C.I.A. request, reflecting fears from U.S. intelligence officials that foreign intelligence agencies may not cooperate with the Americans in the future.
From The New York Times:
“We are talking about compromising methods and sources and causing our partners to be leery about working with us,” said Mr. King, who spoke with reporters about the plot on Monday night and Tuesday after he was briefed by counterterrorism officials. Mr. King, who called the bomb plot “one of the most tightly held operations I’ve seen in my years in the House,” said he was told that government officials planned to investigate the source of the original leak. The C.I.A. declined to comment.
Intelligence officials believe that the explosive is the latest effort of the group’s skilled bomb maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Mr. Asiri is also believed to have designed the explosives used in the failed bombing attempt on an airliner over Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009, and packed into printer cartridges and placed on cargo planes in October 2010.
By Gustavo Vieira - Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 1:43 PM - 0 Comments
American intelligence foiled an Al-Qaeda bomb plot against a US-bound plane last month. The…
American intelligence foiled an Al-Qaeda bomb plot against a US-bound plane last month. The plan was to use a more sophisticated version of the ‘underwear bomb’ used in a failed attempt to blow up a plane over Detroit in 2009.
According to U.S. officials quoted by the Associated Press, the FBI is analyzing the device apprehended in Yemen at its Quantico, Va., laboratories. Also according to the report, the CIA had an insider infiltrating a terror cell in Yemen, planning an attack around the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The BBC quoted US Republican Congressman Peter King linking the CIA mission to foil the bomb plot to the death of Fahd al-Quso, a leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who was killed by a drone strike on Sunday. Hours later, on Monday, an army base in Yemen was attacked by Al-Qaeda, killing 22 soldiers.
From the Associated Press (via CBC):
The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, told reporters Monday that she had been briefed about an “undetectable” device that was “going to be on a U.S.-bound airliner.”
The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said. It’s not immediately clear what happened to the alleged bomber.
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM - 0 Comments
Ottawa’ s hanging on to its embassies’ artwork and al-Qaeda’s taste for porn uncovered
Back at the table
U.S.-Iran relations are enjoying a welcome thaw this spring, as the threat of further sanctions appears to have renewed Tehran’s interest in diplomacy. The two sides met recently in Istanbul and have agreed to more talks next month in Baghdad, with senior clerics in Iran voicing support. Two short months ago, the prospect of Israel bombing installations in Iran looked real, as Tehran remained defiant about continuing its nuclear program. Ending the stalemate will require Iran to stop making weapons-grade nuclear fuel while agreeing to a new inspection regime. Still, this is a good start—and far preferable to the alternative.
Back in Black
After Stephen Harper’s government initially refused to give special consideration to a residency application by Conrad Black, Citizenship and Immigration Canada granted the former media baron a one-year temporary resident permit, allowing him to live here after his release from prison. The backlash was immediate, and expected, with critics accusing the government of a double standard, but Black’s crimes were not violent, he behaved well in prison, and it served no purpose to prevent him from returning home.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 9:55 AM - 0 Comments
A British man convicted of plotting to blow up a plane with a bomb…
A British man convicted of plotting to blow up a plane with a bomb in his shoe conjured up the words of Osama Bin Laden in testimony at the trial of another would-be terrorist in New York.
Saajid Badat’s evidence was recorded in Britain and played Monday on TV screens in the Brooklyn courtroom, where Adis Medunjanin is on trial for allegedly planning to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009. The 29-year-old Bosnian-born U.S. citizen denies involvement in a plot to bomb the New York subway.
Badat, 33, described how Bin Laden recruited him in 2001 for an attack on a trans-Atlantic plane, telling him that it would wreak havoc on the U.S. economy. In a one-on-one meeting with the al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, Badat was told that ”the American economy is like a chain,” the BBC reported. ”If you break one link of the chain, the whole economy will be brought down. . . So after the 11 September attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down.”
Badat said he also met with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks currently detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The courtroom heard how Badat had accepted his suicide mission, but changed his mind once he got back to Britain. His fellow plotter, Richard Reid, proceeded with the plan, but failed in his attempt to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb.
As the BBC reports, Badat was released from British prison in 2010—two years before the end of his sentence—after providing evidence against Mohammed in 2008. In return, he was granted parole, housing, Internet access and unemployment benefits. He now works in the U.K. and is bound by an agreement to testify against other accused terrorists.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, March 30, 2012 at 10:13 AM - 0 Comments
A Jihadist murderer might have hoped to spark wider terror. But a nation pulled through.
Mohamed Merah, the self-proclaimed Islamic holy warrior whose contribution to jihad consisted of murdering three children and four innocent adults, grew up in Les Izards, a Toulouse suburb of low-slung apartment buildings and gangs of loitering hostile youth.
Many of its residents are Muslim Arabs: immigrants from North Africa and, increasingly, their French-born children and grandchildren. Arson is common, one resident said. Cars and buildings are torched.
In a public square in the neighbourhood, civilian “mediators” patrol. Their job is to liaise between residents and the police, who are often present in large numbers but hang back and don’t readily interact with those who live in the district.
By Jane Switzer - Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM - 0 Comments
Lots of crude is a major incentive, but al-Qaeda presence a serious drawback in Puntland
The prospect of plentiful crude oil has lured one Canadian company to northern Somalia’s hard-to-reach desert—and al-Qaeda isn’t happy about it. Bloomberg reported that Vancouver-based Africa Oil Corp. plans to invest $50 million to drill two wells in northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, which is home to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militia. The first well, to be completed in March, will be the first drilled in Somalia in more than 20 years.
Africa Oil predicts the Dharoor Block in Puntland holds a bounty of over one billion barrels of oil, but the risks are equally large. An al-Shabaab Twitter post cited by Reuters rejects the intrusion of Western companies and warns of potential local threats: “Western companies must be fully aware that all exploration rights and drilling contracts in N. Eastern Somalia are now permanently nulliﬁed.” Africa Oil CEO Keith Hill acknowedged that there are “significant” security costs and insurance premiums for operating in war-torn Somalia. Still, given the insatiable global thirst for crude, Hill says the rarity of a “billion-barrel oil field” is a risk worth the reward.
By macleans.ca - Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM - 1 Comment
Weapon-heavy drones targeting Somali militants
The U.S. Air Force has stepped up its campaign against al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in East Africa. Flying out of a remote civilian airport in Ethiopia, U.S. drones have been secretly targeting the al-Shabab militia in neighboring Somalia for months, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Air Force officials confirmed the report. The Ethiopian government, however, continues to deny that any foreign military bases are operational in its territory.
By Michael Petrou - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 at 11:45 AM - 66 Comments
Pakistan is helping insurgents. Could that be seen as an act of war?
The United States has never directly attacked Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), despite the ISI’s long-standing ties to Islamist militias and terrorist groups opposed to the U.S. and its allies. Yet Pakistani spies occasionally still die from American bombs.
In 1998, the Clinton administration launched cruise missiles at jihadist training camps in Afghanistan in retaliation for al-Qaeda’s bombing of two American embassies in East Africa. The missiles missed Osama bin Laden but killed a team of ISI agents training militants at the camps.
In November 2001, as many as 1,000 ISI agents and Pakistani soldiers from the Frontier Corps found themselves trapped in the Afghan city of Kunduz—along with their Taliban allies and members of al-Qaeda and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Pakistanis had been ordered to leave Afghanistan after 9/11 and had had two months to do so, but they decided to stay and fight with the Taliban instead. The Pakistanis might have reasonably expected to share the fate of their compatriots who died as collateral damage in the American cruise missile attacks three years earlier. Instead, Pakistan asked for and received U.S. permission to send rescue planes. Along with the airlifted ISI agents and Pakistani soldiers were Taliban commanders and international jihadists, including al-Qaeda.
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote, U.S.-Pakistani relations deteriorate further
Steps in the right direction
The king of Saudi Arabia has granted women the right to vote, acknowledging they can make “correct opinions.” This in a place where females can’t travel without a male’s permission, and where one woman who drove, despite a ban, was sentenced to 10 lashes. King Abdullah’s decision also permits females to run for Shura Council. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has approved draft regulations allowing women’s shelters to remain independent from government, and receive donations without state intermediation.
It was an exciting week in space news: NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, deployed by the space shuttle in 1991, fell from orbit. A troublemaker on Twitter, armed with some Orson Welles quotes, managed to spread rumours worldwide that UARS had fallen near Okotoks, Alta. Fortunately, it appears the satellite crashed harmlessly somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. A few days earlier, space geeks were titillated with another report: physicists think they saw neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light, which, if conﬁrmed, would disprove Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 16, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 2 Comments
Debating the impact of the attacks and how it changed Canadian life, laws and liberties
Last week in St. John’s, Maclean’s and CPAC hosted a round-table conversation entitled, “How has 9/11 changed our world?” In this wide-ranging discussion of the emotional, practical, political and cultural fallout in the decade following the attacks, Maclean’s columnists Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells were joined on the stage by David Collenette, Canada’s minister of transport at the time of 9/11 attacks, Sukanya Pillay, director of the national security program for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and Tarek Fatah, political activist, author, broadcaster and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. The discussion was moderated by CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen. The following is an edited excerpt.
Andrew Coyne: I don’t know what future historians will make of the grand sweep of September 11 and its place in world history, but there’s no doubt the last 10 years of our lives have been in the shadow of it and very much dominated by it. If there’s one thing that we should certainly remember on this anniversary it is the nature of the threat that al-Qaeda presented and still to some extent presents. It is, I think, unique and new, something new in world history, the combination of the willingness to inflict casualties on just an enormous scale, and the technological capacity married with it. I do think, though, we should, if we’re putting everything in the balance, take stock of the fact that 10 years later we have seriously degraded al-Qaeda’s capacity. We’ll discuss a lot of the pros and cons of how the battle has been fought, but I just want to leave people with the impression that it was a battle worth fighting, and it’s been broadly successful.
Paul Wells: The question before us is how did his happen, and I think it’s a combination of two things, extremism—or, to use a simpler term, evil—on one side, and complacency on the other. The extremism persists, and the complacency is gone, but it’s important to understand what those 19 men in those airplanes were trying to do: they were trying to provoke the West. The nature of asymmetrical warfare is you use the limited means at your disposal to essentially trip up a much larger and more powerful opponent, and to some extent those 19 men have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. We have to keep our vigilance up, we have to keep working. This is not a war that is going to go away just because a zero comes up at the end of the anniversaries. I think we are still in this for a very long time, which is why we have to make sure that, in defending our values, we don’t betray them.
By Michael Petrou - Friday, September 9, 2011 at 10:30 AM - 2 Comments
Muslims are rising up—for democracy and civil rights. Why bin Laden’s call to extremism has failed.
Osama bin Laden enjoyed talking about his death. And like other hyper-religious Islamists, he claimed to long for it. “So let me be a martyr, dwelling in a high mountain pass among a band of knights who, united in devotion to God, descend to face armies,” he wrote in a poem he recited in a 2003 audiotape.
Bin Laden could embrace dying because he believed the war he had declared on Jews and “crusaders” was bigger than him and any other individual. It would sweep the Muslim ummah, or nation. “I am just a poor slave of God,” he said in December 2001, shortly after slipping away from the American bombardment of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. “If I live or die, the war will continue.” With God’s grace, he said, the “awakening” had begun.
Now bin Laden is dead, assassinated by U.S. commandos in a May raid on his secret compound deep inside Pakistan. And indeed, the war between al-Qaeda and its many enemies continues. But al-Qaeda’s destructive nihilism is becoming a lonelier and lonelier pursuit. A decade after its most spectacular and murderous success, al-Qaeda is a shrunken shell of what it once was, rejected by increasing numbers of Muslims and even its onetime spiritual allies.
By Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 9:20 AM - 0 Comments
Without 9/11, Jody Mitic wouldn’t have lost his legs in a blast, met the love of his life and had his daughter
Aylah Mitic, a few weeks away from her third birthday, is sitting at the kitchen table, fiddling with jars of Play-Doh and pouring imaginary cups of tea. Her father, Jody, is beside her, a pair of grey running shoes covering his two prosthetic feet. “I don’t know if she’s even clued in that mom has feet and dad doesn’t,” Mitic says. “I’ve been waiting for the questions, though. At daycare, I sometimes walk in with shorts and the other kids say: ‘What’s up with your legs?’ I just say: ‘They’re my magic legs.’ ”
“It’s normal to her,” adds Aylah’s mom, Alannah Gilmore. “It’s funny, but sometimes she’ll say: ‘Daddy, put your legs on. Let’s go!’ ”
Ten years ago, when Daddy still had his real legs, Aylah’s parents-to-be were stationed at CFB Petawawa. He was a sniper in training, she was a medic, and they had never met. But like thousands of other Canadian soldiers whose careers were forever changed on that September morning, Master Cpl. Mitic and Sgt. Gilmore would be off to Afghanistan—and a fateful encounter with a land mine.
By Charlie Gillis - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 0 Comments
After her husband was killed in the north tower, Cindy Barkway decided to prove good is better than evil
On the morning of May 2, having just returned from a family cruise along Canada’s east coast, Cindy Barkway waited in the kitchen of her Etobicoke, Ont., home with a piece of momentous news. “They’ve killed Osama bin Laden,” she told her nine-year-old son David as he descended, bleary-eyed, from his upstairs room. She scanned his face for reaction: when he laughs or frowns, the boy can look hauntingly like the father he never knew. This time she got an uncomprehending stare.
“Who?” he asked.
“The guy who killed Daddy,” said David’s older brother Jamie, exasperated, and with that the younger boy brightened. Since they were toddlers, Cindy has been conditioning her sons with early-years style accounts of their father’s death in the north tower of the World Trade Center—how David Sr., a trader with BMO Nesbitt-Burns, had gone to a meeting in New York; how an angry man had sent airplanes to fly into the tall building; how their dad and a lot of other blameless people died in a tragedy that changed the world.
Cindy was six months pregnant on Sept. 11, 2001, with the boy she’d name after her late husband. She had joined David Sr. on his fateful trip to New York to do a bit of shopping, so she bore witness to the smoke billowing from the towers before she knew what caused it (a drugstore clerk told her that the buildings had been struck by hijacked airliners). This cascade of misfortune would bring uninvited celebrity: as the loved one of a Canadian victim who was actually in New York at the time, she became the focus of intense interest to her own country’s media. She also counted among the so-called “9/11 moms” featured on Oprah Winfrey and Primetime with Diane Sawyer.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 12 Comments
Stephen Harper discusses the terrorist threat facing Canada.
… Harper says Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.” ”There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats,” Harper said.
Harper cautioned that terrorist threats can “come out of the blue” from a different source, such as the recent Norway attacks, where a lone gunman who hated Muslims killed 77 people. But Harper said terrorism by Islamic radicals is still the top threat, though a “diffuse” one.
“When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world,” he said, citing domestic terrorism in Nigeria. The prime minister said home-grown Islamic radicals in Canada are “also something that we keep an eye on.”
By Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells - Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 9:30 AM - 12 Comments
Andrew Coyne and Paul Wells debate the successes and failures of the world’s response after 9/11 and how safe we are today
ANDREW COYNE: Perhaps the best way to think about the legacy of Sept. 11 is to think of all the things that haven’t happened. Most obviously, there has been no successful terrorist attack on American soil since then—nor any attempted attack originating from Canadian soil. Neither have there been any of the consequences that might well have followed from a second, possibly worse attack, or in some cases were predicted to follow from the first: no wholesale victimization of Muslims, no long, black night of repression of dissent, no cataclysmic clash of civilizations, and so on.
This is of more than theoretical interest. If, 10 years later, al-Qaeda seems a depleted force, there was no guarantee things would turn out that way, nor did it seem likely at the time. Reviewing television footage from the day, what is striking is the sense of bewilderment in the voices of the normally phlegmatic anchormen, as the planes keep dropping out of the sky. Who could blame them? As of about noon that day, you could have told me California had fallen into the sea and I’d have believed you.
The audacity of attacking the world’s most powerful nation in such spectacular, head-on fashion still has the power to shock. More than anything else, Sept. 11 was a show of strength: look what we can do to you, it announced. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.