By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press - Friday, May 17, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – An undercover source working for Canada’s spy agency and sensitive intelligence from…
OTTAWA – An undercover source working for Canada’s spy agency and sensitive intelligence from the United States and Britain helped build the case against three terrorism suspects facing criminal charges, court documents indicate.
At least some of that information came from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the London Metropolitan Police, says an affidavit filed by the RCMP in the Federal Court of Canada.
Other material was apparently gleaned through the secretive “Five Eyes” eavesdropping network.
The records shed new light on the investigation that led to the high-profile 2010 arrests of Misbahuddin Ahmed and Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh of Ottawa, and Khurram Syed Sher, of London, Ont.
The Federal Court is slated to hold hearings next week on a government application to keep certain classified information under wraps during the criminal trials for the three men, which are still several months away. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1:46 AM - 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 Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
Scott Clark and Peter DeVries explain the problem with the $3.1 billion in unaccounted-for anti-terrorism funding.
Given the sensitivity of this issue and the size of the amount missing, it is surprising that Treasury Board did not undertake a detailed analysis of what happened to this $3.1 billion, prior to the release of the Auditor General’s report. There was certainly sufficient time to do so. This would have saved the Government considerable embarrassment. Instead, it is viewed as a major blow to their credibility as sound managers of the public purse…
Once again the ability of Parliament to oversee government spending has been eroded. Parliament should ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) to undertake a review of the missing $3.1 billion. It simply cannot be shrugged off as “lacking clarity” and “bureaucratic error” and a claim that better controls will be put in place so that it won’t happen again.
The Prime Minister’s assertion yesterday was that “all spending has been reported and accounted for,” but no detailed accounting of the $3.1 billion has yet been released.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM - 0 Comments
After some fussing from the fussy David Christopherson over the fuzzy nature of the last federal election, Nycole Turmel returned to the fore to wonder aloud about the precise location and utility of some $3.1 billion in funding originally allocated for the purposes of preventing terrorist attacks.
“Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are saying that losing track of $3.1 billion is no big deal,” she reported. “The Prime Minister says there is a lack of clarity. The President of the Treasury Board says it was the Liberals’ fault.”
Across the way, Tony Clement, the president in question, furrowed his brow and appeared confused, perhaps not quite agreeing with Ms. Turmel’s account in his regard. (Perhaps he didn’t so much blame the Liberals, as merely note their complicity.)
“However,” Ms. Turmel continued, “let me read this quote: ‘One would think there would be some element of shame regarding today’s report, but there is none whatsoever.’ That was the Prime Minister talking about the Liberal boondoggle in 2005.”
And, in the interests of consistency, that previous rush to judgment should serve as the model now.
“So,” Ms. Turmel asked, “is the Prime Minister now ready to show some contrition?”
If he was, it was not obviously conveyed in words. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 1:47 PM - 0 Comments
“The fact is it all is accounted for, but through a different methodology and that methodology is the traditional way that governments — both the Liberal government before us and the current government on its anti-terrorism measures — reported to Parliament, through something called the public accounts,” Clement told CTV’s Canada AM on Wednesday.
I asked the Auditor General’s office earlier: “In regards to the $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding that are in question, could the auditor general have tracked that funding by reviewing the department by department spending reports in the Public Accounts?” Here was the response from the auditor general’s spokesman.
The information reported annually in the public accounts was at an aggregate level and most of the PSAT spending was not separately reported as a distinct (or separate) line item. Furthermore, with over 10 years elapsing since the beginning of the PSAT program, much of that information is now archived and unavailable.
I put that to Mr. Clement’s office and wondered if that undermined Mr. Clement’s suggestion to Canada AM. Mr. Clement’s office responded as follows.
We agree with the AG that the information is in the Public Accounts but was categorized and reported differently.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 8:02 PM - 0 Comments
The parliamentary record counts 993 uses of the term “boondoggle” over the last 19 years before today. Here would be two more.
“Mr. Speaker, today’s Auditor General’s report is another scathing indictment of Conservative mismanagement,” Thomas Mulcair reported a few moments after Mr. Poilievre. “Conservatives have actually lost track of, wait for it… $3.1 billion.”
Lest this be confused with a mere $3.1 million, the NDP leader stressed that here was a word that began with a “b.”
“We all remember when the Liberals could not account for $1 billion in spending at HRSDC,” Mr. Mulcair mused. “Conservatives called it a $1 billion boondoggle.”
In fairness to poor Jane Stewart—and perhaps as a certain note of caution now—the billion-dollar boondoggle she came to be forever associated with was not actually worth nearly that much. Possibly it was something like $85,000. By one accounting, the total bill was $3,229. But then the “$3,229 boondoggle” is rather unalliterative.
“Will the Prime Minister hold his Minister of Public Safety accountable for this $3-billion boondoggle?” Mr. Mulcair asked, adopting something of a Preston Manning accent to pronounce this new boondoggle.
The Prime Minister stood here and declared all of this quite inaccurate. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 1:54 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday, hours after the Prime Minister had said that now was not the time to commit sociology, Pierre Poilievre opined on television that “the root causes of terrorism is terrorists.” This comment caused a bit of a stir and so, this morning, Mr. Poilievre stood just before Question Period to respond to that stir.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday, a small army of Liberal pseudo-intellectuals had a collective spasm after I said that terrorists are the cause of terrorism. The Liberal leader had touched off the debate when he said that the Boston bombings happened because someone “feels completely excluded.”
However, were the Tsarnaev brothers excluded? The United States included them by giving sheltering their family with formal asylum from the wartorn Dagestan . The younger terrorist was included in equality education at a state of the art school, which boasts an amazing 11:1 student to teacher ratio, after which, the city gave him a $2,500 scholarship. America also included the older terrorist, Tamerlan , with a taxpayer funded welfare benefit that continued even after the main U.S. counterterrorism agency had added him to its watch list.
Excluding these facts is not the mark of a nuanced intellectual, but of an ideologue who is in over his head. Let us follow the facts, not Liberal ideology, and let us target the root cause of terrorism. They are called terrorists.
The reciting of these facts for the purposes of considering the lives and livelihoods of the Tsarnaev brothers would likely be enough to get someone convicted on a charge of committing sociology. And so as to avoid committing the same crime, one should probably not engage Mr. Poilievre’s consideration: Mr. Poilievre’s words might be treated as one would a dangerous suspect on the loose (do not attempt to apprehend, but seek shelter and contact local law enforcement immediately).
But for the sake of not excluding facts, here is a report of the Los Angeles Times.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, came to America from central Asia about a decade ago and appeared to have embraced their new life — attending school, holding jobs, playing sports and, in the older brother’s case, aspiring to represent the United States as a boxer in the Olympics. But there were signs of discontent from the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings.
“I don’t have a single American friend, I don’t understand them,” Tamerlan Tsarnaev said, as reported in an online photo essay that shows him training for a boxing competition. Their aunt, Maret Tsarnaev of Toronto, told Canada’s CTV the two were “very normal men,” but also said Tamerlan Tsarnaev “seemingly did not find himself yet in America because it’s not easy.”
And a man who lived in the same Cambridge neighborhood as the brothers and speaks Russian said the older one told him “he was upset with America because America was in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries.” The man, who declined to give his name, added, “Should I have called someone to tell them this guy doesn’t like America? I’m having second thoughts.”
Here is the BBC.
By many accounts, Tsarnaev was a loner with flashes of anger. People at the mosque on Prospect Street, where he used to come alone to pray, found him difficult. Once, says Nichole Mossalam, who works for the Islamic Society of Boston, he became outraged during a sermon. “The person giving the sermon made a comparison between Martin Luther King and the Prophet,” Ms Mossalam says. “He made a verbal outburst.”
Here is Reuters.
But about three years ago, Tsnarnaev abruptly dropped off the scene. He removed his Facebook page. Vasquez no longer saw him around the streets. “He kind of disconnected himself,” Vasquez said. He asked mutual friends if they had seen Tsarnaev, if they knew what he was up to. Some said they had heard he went back to Russia. But no one had details. No one knew he had married or had a child.
And here is the New York Times.
After Mr. Tsarnaev’s visit to Dagestan and Chechnya, signs of alienation emerged. One month after he returned to the United States, a YouTube page that appeared to belong to him was created and featured jihadist videos.
Did exclusion or alienation lead Tamerlan Tsarnaev to detonate a bomb that killed and maimed his fellow human beings? I have no idea. The Wall Street Journal and Anne Applebaum seem to think there might be something to this. Those and and a lot of other theories are likely to be aired and tested in the ensuing weeks and months as new evidence and testimony is discovered and considered and put in context. (Five years after Columbine, we were still sorting out the causes of that massacre.)
But at least Mr. Poilievre was brave enough this morning to engage the discussion. Yesterday was not the time to commit sociology. But today, apparently, is a new day. So let us follow Mr. Poilievre’s lead. Let us follow the facts. And let us not be afraid to consider and debate what those facts mean for what happened and what we might do now in hopes of ensuring that such horrors are only rarer in the future.
By Tamsin McMahon - Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8:54 AM - 0 Comments
How two all-American brothers left a city bruised and bloodied
Dan Bohrs moved out to Watertown from Boston for the suburb’s peace and tranquility, though the last week has been as far from the quiet life as he could imagine. Bohrs, a teacher, awoke at 3 a.m. on Friday to an automated phone call from the Watertown police, instructing him to stay indoors because an armed fugitive was on the loose. It was followed within minutes by a knock on his front door by seven police officers, guns drawn, wanting to know if he’d seen anything suspicious. By then, Bohrs had turned on the TV to news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, had escaped after a shootout with police that had killed his older brother, Tamerlan, sparking a region-wide lockdown that would paralyze greater Boston for nearly 24 hours.
Dressed in his pyjamas, his roommate watching from the upstairs window, Bohrs watched as a member of the SWAT team and a state trooper in camouflage gear headed outside, where they began scouring his backyard for the lanky 19-year-old suspected of committing one of the worst acts of domestic terrorism on American soil. That’s when he thought, “We have a canoe back there. It’s overturned and when you look at it, you can imagine somebody could fit under there and hide.” Bohrs rushed outside. But by the time he arrived, they had left the canoe untouched and moved on toward his neighbour on adjacent Franklin Street, five doors down, with the red boat in his backyard shrink-wrapped for the winter. “I don’t know if that would have changed anything, if we had had any sort of discussion, [if I] had also said: ‘Hey there’s also a boat back there,’ ” he says. “But I’m sure if I was staring at my canoe for part of the day, the neighbour must have been looking at his boat.”
It wouldn’t be for more than 16 hours, after investigators had officially lifted the lockdown that forced residents to stay inside their homes, that Bohrs’ neighbour, David Henneberry, would go outside for a smoke break and a chance to check on his beloved boat, a red 22-foot Sea Hawk called Slipaway II. Friends and relatives of the retired telephone worker said he was taking in the mild sunny weather when he noticed that one of straps on his boat had been cut and the plastic wrap was flapping uncharacteristically in the breeze. He grabbed a stepladder, climbed up to check and spotted a pool of blood and what he suspected was a body lying inside. His 911 call to police would unleash a police operation the likes of which few communities—let alone picturesque suburban Watertown—have ever seen. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 5:42 PM - 0 Comments
From the NDP leader’s scrum this afternoon, in which he was asked whether this was the wrong time to be having a discussion about root causes.
The question is what terms are you going to be using and what the analysis leads to. Sometimes, you have to take a step back from these situations and try to understand what it involves internationally. But the root cause of an eight-year-old child being killed at the Boston Marathon is that somebody who doesn’t care about other people’s lives placed a bomb. And that’s what we have to look at, that reality. Beyond that, of course you can have discussions about all sorts of things but I think that it’s unwise to go beyond the immediate fact that human life was lost that day and that’s what we’re looking at…
It’s part of the analysis and the ongoing work that every government does, that every person does. That’s not the question. I think we have to be wise in our timing of these things. Don’t forget, this was in the immediate aftermath. When you find out what the situation is, that’s what I was concentrating on in any event. I’ll let other people explain what their words have meant.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM - 0 Comments
From the Prime Minister’s news conference this afternoon, his response to a question about the radicalization of young men and when it would be okay to discuss root causes.
Look, I think that in terms of radicalization this is obviously something we follow. Our security agencies work with each other and with others around the globe to track people who are threats to Canada and to watch threats that may evolve. I think though … this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression. It’s time to treat this.
These things are serious threats, global terrorist attacks, people who have agendas of violence that are deep and abiding threats to all the values that our society stands for. I don’t think we want to convey any view to the Canadian public other than our utter condemnation of this kind of violence, contemplation of this violence and our utter determination through our laws and through our activities to do everything we can to prevent it and counter it.
By Josh Dehaas - Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 12:38 PM - 0 Comments
A TV captioning service that accidentally told viewers actress Zooey Deschanel was a suspect…
On Friday evening, when millions of Americans were captivated by TV news coverage of the manhunt that shut down a city, those watching Fox in Dallas with closed captions saw the words “Marathon Bomber. He is 19-year-old Zooey Deschanel” on their screens. Deschanel, who plays Jess on the City series New Girl, saw a screenshot on Twitter and responded:
— zooey deschanel (@ZooeyDeschanel) April 20, 2013
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 Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 3:06 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday afternoon, Liberal Senator Celine Hervieux-Payette apparently sent out a tweet suggesting that an alignment with U.S. policy would somehow draw the interest of terrorists.
On that basis, the Conservative party is now appealing for funds to help spread the word of Justin Trudeau’s unfitness for office.
Yesterday, the RCMP announced they had foiled a potential terrorist attack here in Canada – and Justin Trudeau’s Liberal team thought it was a good idea to use the moment to score cheap political points against our Conservative government.
Here’s what Trudeau’s senior Quebec advisor, Senator Hervieux-Payette, had to say on Twitter: “Harper wants to align Canada with the US, wants the same republican policies: he will get also the same terrorists.”
I guess now we know what Trudeau meant when, instead of condemning the Boston bombers and calling for their swift punishment, he opined that we needed to look for “root causes” because terrorists are probably feeling “excluded.” Trudeau’s Liberals think Conservative policies are the real “root cause” of terrorism.
The media are deliberately ignoring this story to protect Justin Trudeau. We tried to get reporters interested, but the media would rather report on an NDP news release about Earth Day.
That’s why we need your help. We need to make sure every Canadian knows that Justin Trudeau lacks the judgement and experience to be Prime Minister.
He’s the most inexperienced leader of the Liberal Party in history – and it shows. Help us send a message to Justin Trudeau that his comments on terrorism are unacceptable.
National Campaign Manager, 2011
I’m not sure what evidence there is that the senator is Mr. Trudeau’s “senior Quebec advisor.” (I’ve asked Mr. Trudeau’s office for clarification.) She endorsed Joyce Murray in the Liberal leadership race.
Update 6:02pm. Liberal House leader Dominic LeBlanc was asked about this after QP today.
I actually don’t follow madame Hervieux-Payette’s comments on Twitter. My understanding is that a staff person has apologized for in fact having used her account to put on Twitter views that certainly are reflected by myself, by the Liberal caucus or by the Liberal leader. What’s interesting for us is that Mr. Harper probably holds the speed record in trying to exploit a tragedy like the Boston bombings for political advantage and this week he gets another prize for the record in terms of speed of trying to exploit for financial gain for his Conservative Party these tragic events. There’s no depth to which he won’t sink to try and collect money for the Conservative Party, sending a fund-raising letter with a series of falsehoods, that’s only one of them, there are others, but we’re not – we’re not particularly surprised or worried about that.
I’m told Senator Hervieux-Payette was not Mr. Trudeau’s senior Quebec advisor.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, April 22, 2013 at 6:19 PM - 0 Comments
At noon, the House moved to government orders. To present S-7, the Combatting Terrorism Act, stood Candice Bergen, parliamentary secretary to the minister of public safety.
“In closing,” she concluded shortly thereafter, “I would like to express my deepest condolences to all of those who have suffered as a result of the despicable acts that occurred in Boston this last week. The way that the city has come together has been an inspiration for all of us. They have shown the world that fear would not define them and I would hope that Canadians, if such a thing would happen, would do the same thing.”
So let us say that it is not fear, but general awareness of fearsome possibility that guides us now.
“At the same time, I would like to say that it is so important to ensure that Canada has the necessary laws and tools to prevent such a heinous attack,” Ms. Bergen continued. “We want to make sure that we are fully prepared and that we can combat terrorism and possible future terrorist acts, as well as making sure that anyone who has been involved in terrorist acts in Canada is dealt with. We have to ensure that the evildoers are met with the justice that they deserve. Otherwise, we as parliamentarians have failed our most basic duty: To protect Canadians.”
Up first was Charlie Angus, who quibbled with nothing less than the fact that this debate was happening now. Continue…
By Paul Wells - Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 12:51 PM - 0 Comments
Despite his insistence that Real Leaders shouldn’t “sit around trying to rationalize” terrorist violence “or figure out its root causes,” Stephen Harper has announced a multi-year program worth millions of taxpayer dollars designed to do just that.
I’m indebted to CBC blogger and Former Colleague Kady O’Malley for pointing this out. On June 23, 2011, during his annual St. Jean Baptiste sojourn through Quebec, the prime minister marked the seventh annual National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism by launching the Kanishka Project, a five-year, $10 million program to “invest in research on pressing questions for Canada on terrorism and counter-terrorism.”
From the PM’s speech that day:
“…the first and most solemn duty of government is to keep its people safe. It took far too long to learn the lessons of Flight 182. One of those lessons is that information is an important tool in the struggle against terrorism. We need to know as much as we can about terrorists, their tactics, and the best solutions to protect people…
We will engage Canada’s best and brightest minds, and we will provide funding for publications, conferences and research projects – anything that can help us build the knowledge base we need to effectively counter terrorism.
The Kanishka Project is named in memory of everyone who boarded the aircraft, and we will ensure that the families of the victims are involved in helping to guide the project’s work.”
The Kanishka project, designed to commemorate the Air India bombing, builds on such excellent Harper Government root-causes work as the 2009 RCMP guide Radicalization: A Guide For The Perplexed, which I am not making up. It includes this paragraph published by your national constabulary: Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 9:21 PM - 0 Comments
Chris Selley wonders how the NDP went from Alexa McDonough’s response to 9/11 to Randall Garrison’s response to Justin Trudeau’s response to the Boston Marathon bombing.
John Geddes explains where Mr. Trudeau went wrong.
So how does Harper’s two-pronged critique apply, as he clearly intended, to Trudeau’s answer in the CBC interview? It’s a long and rather meandering reply. However, I don’t hear Trudeau rationalizing or excusing terror. He does clearly call for an exploration of root causes.
And that part of Trudeau’s answer strikes me as unsettling only because he introduces his interest in causes without first offering the three essential elements that the Prime Minister persuasively tells us must be there in a leader’s response—condemn, pursue, prosecute.
There is a certain meandering to Mr. Trudeau’s answer. Maybe more than was necessary or wise when basically nothing was known about the motives or individuals responsible for the attack. (Here again is a fuller compendium of Mr. Trudeau has said in regards to the Boston Marathon bombing.)
The Internet notes that Peter MacKay used the phrase “root causes” in relation to the Oslo attack by Anders Breivik (though I’m not sure “Peter MacKay said it” is the sort of precedent Mr. Trudeau would want to use as justification).
The basic debate goes back at least as far as September 2001. Here is every use of the phrase “root causes of terrorism” in the House since then. Here is Jason Kenney objecting to “root causes” on September 17, 2001 and here he is again the next day on the same subject.
Somewhat relatedly: In 2002, Jean Chretien seemed to link 9/11 to wealth disparity and Western arrogance. Nine years later, on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Stephen Harper was asked about those comments and offered this assessment, in which he dismissed Mr. Chretien’s wealth versus poverty theory and focused on failed states.
Update 10:50pm. Post-script. It seems generally less controversial to invoke the “root causes of crime.” (Maybe because we’ve all decided we know what those are?) But in the case of terrorism the discussion becomes more fraught and complicated, all the more so in the immediate time period after an attack.
By Murray Brewster - Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Amid revelations about Canadian links to a deadly terrorist siege in Algeria,…
OTTAWA – Amid revelations about Canadian links to a deadly terrorist siege in Algeria, intelligence experts are urging Canada to track citizens as they leave the country — or detain them at the border — to prevent attacks overseas.
Such ideas are sure to light up the civil liberties and human rights community, which is still wincing from the Harper government’s failed attempt to legislate increased surveillance on the Internet.
Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of intelligence at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said Canada should consider so-called exit controls, including the removal of a citizen’s passport if the person is deemed a threat.
“There has to be an easy way to trigger a denial of a passport — or the removal of somebody’s passport — if there is sufficient information to demonstrate this person has become highly radicalized and or made threats, or done things to threaten lives or the welfare and well being of others,” Boisvert said.
The radicalization of young people, while not new, can take place at lightning speed in today’s wired world, said Boisvert — and preventing any ensuing violence is a moral imperative, not just a legal one.
“They are our problem,” he said.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 11:05 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Canada has done well to keep young people off the “path to…
OTTAWA – Canada has done well to keep young people off the “path to radicalization,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Tuesday amid surprising revelations about the background of two disaffected Ontario men who reportedly played key roles in January’s deadly terrorist siege in Algeria.
Canadian security agencies, with the help of religious groups, have successfully staged numerous interventions as part of “our containment strategy … on domestic radicalization,” Kenney told a news conference in Vancouver.
His remarks followed a CBC News report that identified the two Canadians involved in January’s deadly terrorist attack at an isolated Algerian gas plant: Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, two high school friends from London, Ont.
Neither Kenney, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and the RCMP would comment directly on the report.
But Kenney expounded on the growing threat of homegrown terrorism in Canada, Western Europe and the United States. Police and the Canada Security Intelligence Service often get involved and prevent problems before they happen, he said.
“Frequently, for example, when information is obtained about perhaps a young Canadian who is on the path towards radicalization, often there’s an intervention,” he said.
“Often the police will go and visit his family or perhaps his spiritual leader, and say, this young person is going in the wrong direction. And there’s an effort to make an early intervention.”
The siege in Algeria killed at least 38 hostages and 29 militants, including Medlej and Katsiroubas.
In a report on Tuesday night, CBC said Aaron Yoon, a high school friend also from London, travelled overseas with Medlej and Katsiroubas. The details came after the broadcaster had said earlier that two others from the London area had gone to Algeria with the pair.
CBC said Yoon had somehow ended up in a North African jail before the Algerian attack.
Yoon’s family, however, told CBC that while the young man had indeed travelled overseas with Medlej, he was’t thought to be in jail and was not associated with the Algerian terror plot.
CBC also said Tuesday night that RCMP had been asking questions about all three men in London as recently as June 2012.
During a conference call Tuesday from the United Arab Emirates, Baird was peppered with questions about the initial CBC report — particularly about why the federal government had not been more forthcoming about the case.
“Our intelligence services, our law enforcement agencies have been doing some important work and I think it’s best if I refer you to them for further comment,” Baird said.
Baird instead highlighted his visit to a local Tim Hortons outlet in Abu Dhabi as part of a lengthy tour of the Middle East and Persian Gulf. He did, however, echo Kenney’s broader concerns about homegrown terrorism.
“Obviously, this is a challenge that has happened in many parts of the West, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, elsewhere,” Baird said. “It’s obviously something that deeply concerns us.”
The RCMP says its investigation into Canadian involvement in the attack continues but is refusing to comment further.
The lure of extremism does not necessarily focus exclusively on those who are on society’s margins, Kenney added.
“The typical profile of people who have been subject to this kind of radicalization are not people who are marginalized,” he said.
“These are often people who have grown up with very considerable advantages, including high levels of education.”
CBC said CSIS began asking questions about Medlej and Katsiroubas after a family member contacted authorities in 2007 with concerns about the pair.
Muslim leaders at the mosque in London that was reportedly attended by Katsiroubas — a former Greek Orthodox who converted to Islam — held a news conference Tuesday to distance their community from the attacks.
Munir El-Kassem said no one he has talked to in the community seems to know either man or their families. Their reported actions should not reflect on Islam nor on London, El-Kassem said.
“When something like this happens that puts a religious identity on a terrorist attack we should all come together to denounce that and say faith and terrorism is an oxymoron,” he said.
“They do not exist together.”
If youth are searching for radical ideas they won’t find them in the Muslim community in London, El-Kassem said, noting that misinformation about Islam is rampant on the Internet.
“The fact that they happened to be from London, Ontario, has no bearing on the city or the community itself,” he said.
“We know ourselves and we know the people around us. We are very comfortable that this is a very peaceful community.”
The four-day siege of the natural gas plant ended when the Algerian military stormed the complex.
In the aftermath of the attack, Algeria’s prime minister said two Canadians were among the band of militants who took hundreds of workers hostage — claims Canada couldn’t initially confirm.
Hostages who escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.
Members of the RCMP were sent to Algiers to investigate.
In March, the Mounties first said a Canadian was among those killed in the attack, but wouldn’t say if the remains were discovered among the al-Qaida-linked terrorists or the hostages.
Later in the month, the RCMP said the second Canadian was identified from among the bodies of the men accused of being terrorists.
Canadian intelligence officials have said dozens of Canadians have ventured abroad — or tried to do so — to take part in violent operations.
Christian Leuprecht, a professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College, said the issue raises the question about whether Canada needs an intelligence service that can operate outside the country.
“The fact that CSIS was allegedly on to them shows that both our security intelligence and deterrence mechanisms are working,” he said in a statement. “But keep in mind, once they leave the country, the CSIS Act makes it very difficult to follow them.
“Perhaps this is yet another good reason to re-start the debate on amending the CSIS Act to give security intelligence more leeway outside of the country.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:41 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tried to change the channel Tuesday on…
OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird tried to change the channel Tuesday on a CBC News report identifying the two Canadians involved in January’s deadly terrorist attack at an isolated Algerian gas plant.
Baird, who is overseas, referred questions about the revelations — specifically, why the government has said so little about Canada’s connection to the January attack, which killed at least 38 hostages and 29 militants — to security agencies and his cabinet colleague, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
“Our intelligence services, our law enforcement agencies have been doing some important work and I think it’s best if I refer you to them for further comment,” Baird said during a conference call from the United Arab Emirates.
“I’m travelling in the Middle East right now, and the only thing I can do is refer you to the minister.”
By The Canadian Press - Monday, April 1, 2013 at 10:43 PM - 0 Comments
LONDON, Ont. – CBC News says it has identified the two Canadians involved in…
LONDON, Ont. – CBC News says it has identified the two Canadians involved in January’s deadly terrorist attack at an isolated Algerian gas plant.
Citing unidentified sources, the news outlet says Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas — high school friends who were both from London, Ont. — were the Canadians whose bodies were found amidst the carnage.
CBC says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was asking questions about both men at one point after a family member contacted authorities in 2007 with concerns that the pair were associating with the wrong crowd.
But the report says CSIS did not have the two men, who were thought to be in their mid-20s, under surveillance when they left Canada for Algeria sometime last year.
The report also says it has learned that two other individuals from the London area travelled to Algeria with Medlej and Katsiroubas, but it isn’t known if they were involved in the gas plant attack or if they’re even alive.
At least 38 hostages and 29 militants were killed in the four-day siege of the natural gas plant that ended when the Algerian military stormed the energy complex.
In the aftermath of the attack, Algeria’s prime minister had said two Canadians were among the band of militants who took hundreds of workers hostage — claims Canada couldn’t initially confirm.
Hostages who escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.
Members of the RCMP were sent to Algiers to investigate.
In March, the Mounties first said a Canadian was among those killed in the attack, but wouldn’t say if the remains were discovered among the al-Qaida linked terrorists or the hostages.
Later in the month, the RCMP said the second Canadian was identified from among the bodies of the men accused of being terrorists.
Canadian intelligence officials have said dozens of Canadians have ventured abroad — or tried to do so — to take part in violent operations.
By Michael Tarm - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:12 PM - 0 Comments
CHICAGO – One Tahawwur Rana is a loving, kindhearted father hoodwinked into committing crimes…
CHICAGO – One Tahawwur Rana is a loving, kindhearted father hoodwinked into committing crimes out of loyalty to an old friend. The other Tahawwur Rana is hate-filled and cold, speaking approvingly of mass murder and laughing at the prospect of severed heads thrown onto a street.
Those competing portraits are expected to be on display Thursday before a judge sentences the Canadian businessman for backing a terrorist plot in Denmark and supporting the group behind the three-day deadly siege of Mumbai sometimes known as India’s 9-11.
Rana, 52, was convicted in 2011 for providing support to a Pakistani group that carried out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 160 people, as well as for his backing of an unrealized plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 1, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Omar was incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay as its youngest inmate, subjected to torture, mind games and denied counsel for his first two years of detention. Ten years later, he is back in Canada after the grudging acceptance of a plea deal by our government. Omar is also the last Western detainee to be repatriated (all of whom have a 0 per cent recidivism rate). By all accounts, Omar fits the description of a child soldier, as defined by the Optional Protocol. Why have Canada and the U.S. ignored their treaty obligations?
Once a terrorist, always a terrorist, some believe. In their minds, Omar is a traitor who cannot change. They are willfully blind to successful rehabilitation programs of child soldiers.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, September 30, 2012 at 1:12 PM - 0 Comments
Tuesday will mark ten years since this question was asked, seemingly the first time Omar Khadr was reference in the House of Commons.
Svend Robinson. Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Last July, Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian citizen, was arrested by the U.S. army in Afghanistan. To date, the U.S. has allowed the Red Cross access but has refused all Canadian consular access, in blatant violation of international law. I want to ask the minister this. What action is the government taking to ensure that this teenager will not be held at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely, tried before a secret military tribunal and possibly sentenced to death? What is Canada doing to defend the rights of this young Canadian citizen from this abuse of U.S. power?
Bill Graham. Mr. Speaker, my colleague opposite, who is very familiar with international law, will know that he is wrong in qualifying the right to consular access in these cases. This young man in an unfortunate situation was arrested in the course of having been accused of killing an American serviceman in the course of a conflict. There is no consular access in the course of conflicts or we would have had consular access to all of our prisoners during the second world war. We have access. We have requested to the United States to have access and it has assured us that we will have access. The Red Cross has assured us that the young man’s health is in good condition. We continue to press the United States to ensure that his rights will be protected, but I want to assure the House–
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 2:58 PM - 0 Comments
Omar Khadr’s lawyer talks to the Canadian Press.
Meanwhile, Khadr’s lawyers told the Canadian Press that they are surprised by Toews’ statements regarding continuing concerns over the case. ”We’re at a loss to understand why the government continues to demonize Omar and to stoke public opinion against him,” said lawyer John Norris. “We know him to be a kind, intelligent thoughtful young man who has tremendous potential and we know that he will live up to that.”
Norris said that the 26-year-old is happy to finally be back on Canadian soil. ”He’s finding it hard to believe that this has finally happened,” Norris said after speaking to his client by phone. ”His spirits are good. He is very, very happy to be home.”
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has released a statement.
“Omar Khadr’s return to Canada is long overdue. Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was a child soldier. It is extremely unfortunate that it took the Conservative government this long to fulfil its responsibility to bring him back to Canada.
Now Mr. Khadr will serve the remainder of his sentence under the supervision of the Canadian correctional system, and we can ensure that he receives proper treatment and rehabilitation.”
And a statement from the NDP’s Paul Dewar and Wayne Marston.
Today, the Conservatives ended nearly a decade of unnecessary delays and allowed Omar Khadr to serve out the remainder of his sentence in Canada. Canada is the last Western country to repatriate their citizens from the discredited Guantanamo prison system.
Mr. Khadr’s return to Canada was inevitable, yet the Conservatives chose to drag this process out for years at great cost to taxpayers. Their mishandling has hurt our relationship with the United States, our closest ally, and tarnished Canada’s reputation on the international stage.
Both the Supreme Court of Canada and the U.S. Supreme Court, based on the full facts of this case, have found that the military commission proceedings in Guantanamo violated both U.S. domestic law and Canada’s international human rights obligations.
Conservatives have previously faced court judgments against them for their mishandling of the case and failure to respect human rights.
The government should now allow Mr. Khadr to be handled by Canadian authorities in accordance with Canadian law, free from interference.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, September 29, 2012 at 10:09 AM - 0 Comments
Omar Khadr arrived in Canada this morning at 7:40am and has been transferred to Millhaven maximum security prison in Bath, Ontario.
Here is the official explanation from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.
And here is the statement Mr. Toews delivered to reporters this morning.
Good morning. I will be making a short statement.
Early this morning, convicted terrorist Omar Khadr was transferred to Canadian authorities at CFB Trenton.
This was done pursuant to a decision I made earlier this week.
He arrived at 07:40 ET aboard a U.S. Government aircraft travelling from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He has been transferred from CFB Trenton to Millhaven maximum security prison at Bath, Ontario.
Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and a convicted terrorist.
He pleaded guilty to the murder of Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer, an American Army medic, who was mortally wounded in a firefight in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002 and died on August 6, 2002.
Omar Khadr also pleaded guilty to:
• Providing material support for terrorism;
• Attempted murder in violation of the law of war;
• Conspiracy and spying
Omar Khadr was born in Canada and is a Canadian citizen. As a Canadian citizen, he has a right to enter Canada after the completion of his sentence.
This transfer occurs following a process initiated by the United States Government and determined in accordance with Canadian law.
The remainder of his prison sentence will be administered by the Correctional Service of Canada.
I am satisfied the Correctional Service of Canada can administer Omar Khadr’s sentence in a manner which recognizes the serious nature of the crimes that he has committed and ensure the safety of Canadians is protected during incarceration.
Any decisions related to his future will be determined by the independent Parole Board of Canada in accordance with Canadian law.
The official announcement from the U.S. Defence Department is here.