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.
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.
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
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