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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Canada to monitor 'residents' to make sure they don't adopt the strategy of terrorists after thwarting Islamist bomb plot

Canada to monitor 'residents' to make sure they don't adopt the strategy of terrorists after thwarting Islamist bomb plot

June 5, 2006


Canada to Monitor Residents After Police Foil Bombing Plot

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- Canada will more closely monitor its residents to make sure they don't adopt the ideology of foreign terrorists after police arrested 17 people "inspired" by al- Qaeda in a foiled bomb plot this weekend, the public safety minister said.

"This is the type of thing we have to be vigilant about because people just going on the Internet, unfortunately, can be in touch with philosophies, which go against what Canadians believe in," Stockwell Day said in an interview yesterday with CTV Newsnet.

Day didn't mention any new programs to boost security, and declined to offer specific details to avoid jeopardizing the investigation of those arrested, who police say intended to strike targets in southern Ontario.

Canadian police said the group they arrested the night of June 2 had acquired three metric tons (6,614 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, triple the amount of the substance used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The Toronto Star, citing unidentified people, reported yesterday that Canada's spy agency began tracking the group in 2004 while it was monitoring fundamentalist Web sites.

Terrorism in Canada could disrupt trade with U.S., the world's largest trading relationship with $1.4 billion of goods a day crossing a little-defended land border stretching more than 5,527 miles (8,893 kilometers). U.S. President George W. Bush and other politicians have pushed Canada to better secure North America from terrorism.

Similar to U.S.

"I think it's a disproportionate number of al-Qaeda in Canada because of their very liberal immigration laws," Peter King, a Republican Congressman from New York and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, told CNN on June 3.

Canada's Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Wilson told CNN yesterday that he disagrees with King, and that Canada's immigration system is similar to the U.S. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the arrests show Canada's steps to increase security "have borne fruit."

Canada has budgeted more than C$9 billion ($8.2 billion) to improve public security since the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. While Canada declined to join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, it has about 2,000 troops in Afghanistan and last month said it would keep them there until at least February 2009.

Bail Hearing

Minister Day denied in the interview that the troops in Afghanistan provoked possible terrorists in Canada and said he would work to make clear law enforcement isn't targeting Arabs and Muslims.

Ten of the 12 adults arrested were from Toronto or its suburbs, and the remaining two were from Kingston, Ontario. A bail hearing will be held tomorrow at a Toronto-area court, the Toronto Star said. There were also five youths arrested in the police raids. The accused are charged with crimes including contributing to the activity of a terrorist group, and making available property for terrorist purposes.

"I hope it wakes up a lot of people," said Tarek Fatah, 56, spokesman for the Muslim Canadian Congress and host of the weekly television show "The Muslim Chronicle." He spoke in a telephone interview yesterday from Toronto. "It has to be addressed on both sides."

Tougher policing hasn't worked so far in stopping terrorism in Canada or other countries, and feeds perceptions that police are targeting racial minorities, he said. "More of the same is going to get more of the same results," he said.

Ontario Targets

Police said there is no known connection to the U.S. or to al-Qaeda in the case, and the targets were all in Ontario, Canada's most populous province. The Star reported targets may have included the head office of Canada's spy agency on Front Street, near Canada's financial hub in downtown Toronto. Another target may have been the Parliament buildings in Ottawa. Police say the Toronto subway was not a target.

The Canadians may have had "limited contact" with two Georgia men arrested in April, FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko said in a June 3 e-mail.

Royal Bank of Canada, the country's biggest bank by assets, hasn't made any security changes as a result of the weekend arrests.

"Security, business continuity plans are front and center in our minds at all times," said Beja Rodeck, a spokeswoman for the Toronto-based bank. "I'm sure we will be reviewing if anything needs to be put in place."

Canada's spy agency has warned that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups may attack. More terrorist groups probably operate in Canada than any other country except the U.S., because of its proximity to the U.S. and a large immigrant population, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in a 2002 report.

Montreal resident Ahmed Ressam was arrested Dec. 14, 1999, while attempting to cross from Canada into Washington state carrying bomb-making material he intended to use at Los Angeles airport. Ressam was convicted in the U.S. in 2001.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Greg Quinn in Ottawa at [email protected]

Last Updated: June 5, 2006 00:14 EDT


Profiling worries called hindrance
Washington Times | Tuesday, June 4, 2002 | By Dave Boyer

Federal officials say heightened sensitivity to racial profiling
is undermining federal agents' efforts to prevent further terrorist
attacks in the United States.

"We've made people so frightened of doing their jobs because they
have to be politically correct that they avoid the obvious," said Rep.
Mark Foley, Florida Republican, who is pushing for tighter immigration
controls. "Al Qaeda is not an equal-opportunity employer."

In the Justice Department, sources said yesterday that concern about
being second-guessed by Congress and civil rights groups for targeting
Arab or Muslim men has had a chilling effect on terrorism

"We know who's trying to kill us, and we know they're here," one
Justice official said. "And yet we have to be extra sensitive as to
not offend anyone.

"It makes it very difficult, particularly when certain Democratic
senators were chastising the FBI for not connecting the dots while one
of their colleagues was attacking the FBI for doing interviews of
visitors from al Qaeda countries. It sends confusing signals."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a member of the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said concern about racial
profiling hindered the FBI from aggressively investigating reports
last year that men of Middle Eastern descent were training at U.S.
flight schools.

"I believe it played a role in the reticence to really move
ahead" with the FBI probe, Mrs. Feinstein said Sunday on CNN. "I think
we're going to have to come to terms with it."

But Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican and a member of the House
Judiciary Committee, said critics such as Mrs. Feinstein share the

"It probably is true," Mr. Barr said of the FBI becoming too
worried about racial profiling. "But I get a kick out of these folks
like Dianne Feinstein and others who have been on the FBI's back for
years criticizing them for that. Now they're saying, 'Oh gee, maybe
this caused a problem.'"

Racial profiling refers to police focusing on certain races or
ethnic backgrounds while investigating individuals for specific kinds
of criminal activity, sometimes based on crime statistics. Attorney
General John Ashcroft has said he won't tolerate the practice. The
Supreme Court has not ruled directly on the issue.

In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks which
were carried out by Muslim men from Middle Eastern nations federal
agents have tried to prevent further attacks without appearing to
focus unfairly on Muslim men from the Middle East.

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced last week that he is
reorganizing the agency and will reassign hundreds of agents to

Feinstein spokesman Howard Gantman said Mrs. Feinstein was not
criticizing those who complain about racial profiling by police. He
said she was referring only to the reaction within the FBI in the
terrorism investigations.

"There is evidence she's reviewed that there was a concern about
racial profiling that might have kept part of that investigation from
proceeding as early as it might have," Mr. Gantman said. "The FBI
agent [in Phoenix] was writing a memo saying we might need to explore
this issue about people from certain Arab countries coming here and
studying in our flight schools. There did seem to be a way in which a
concern about racial profiling hampered the investigation."

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
Democrat, said the FBI may have been too concerned about accusations
of racial profiling. But speaking Sunday on "Face the Nation," Mr.
Leahy said it would be "pure balderdash" to suggest such concerns
hampered any investigation.

"If that is part of what's going on, then that is the weakest,
slimmest, most ridiculous excuse that could be used," he said. "The
fact is, you go after criminals, whoever they are."

Mr. Foley said federal authorities should be profiling Muslim men
between the ages of 18 to 40 from Middle Eastern countries.

"We've been so lax on the job with [the Immigration and
Naturalization Service] and border enforcement, and now we're taking
it to the extreme by saying, 'Oh my God, here comes a Muslim from
Saudi Arabia, I better not even talk to him because they'll be fearful
that I'm profiling him,'" Mr. Foley said. "Well, yes, profile him,
that's my word to the troops.

"Strong tactics deserve strong medicine. We're in a war. We know
[they are] largely Arab-world, Saudis, Muslims, extremist males
that's fairly indicative of who will rain terror on us."

A retired FBI agent familiar with counterterrorism investigations
noted that all of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were of similar
ethnicity and belonged to a specific secular religious group.

"What do terrorists look like?" the former agent asked. "Well,
look at the 19 involved in the September 11 attacks or those who
struck the World Trade Center in 1993. Had any of the 19 been stopped
at the airports and questioned based on their appearance, some people
might have been appalled, but the real question remains on whether we
could have prevented those attacks with such tactics."

Mr. Barr said the FBI should not be intimidated by

"They're always going to be sued for something. So why let that
stand in the way of doing what you think is right?" Mr. Barr asked.
"As long as you have a rational law-enforcement basis on which to say,
'This set of characteristics produces a person that is more likely
than another to engage in criminal activity in this particular
instance,' I think you have every legitimate right to operate on that
basis. That's good police work."

The House took a step two weeks ago to prevent federal employees
from being sued for conducting searches of people entering the
country. It approved the Customs Border Security Act, which includes a
provision granting immunity from civil liability to U.S. officials who
conduct good-faith searches of persons traveling to the United States.

Jerry Seper contributed to this report.

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