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Terrorists could use B.C. coast, warns expert
Last Updated: Mar 18 2004 10:56 AM PST

VANCOUVER - A terrorism expert at Simon Fraser University says the B.C.'s waters and ports could be used in a major terrorist attack against Canada or the United States.

The warning comes after a report that the Canadian Forces counter-terrorism unit, Joint Task Force Two, is using port cities like Victoria to prepare for the possibility of a sea-based attack.

SFU political science professor Doug Ross says maritime terrorism is a growing threat in North America, especially with an election looming in the U.S.

Ross says having JTF 2 personnel in B.C. is "absolutely essential" – noting that the booming cruise-ship industry and less-than-secure ports could be attractive to terrorists.

"It's going to be extremely important for Canadian authorities to be able to have full control of our coasts, just in case something might be being smuggled in.

"And trying to monitor every small craft that might be carrying, for example fissile materials for a nuclear explosive device, or radiological materials for a dirty bomb – all of these are a problem," says Ross.

A Canadian Forces spokesperson says Canada needs to be prepared for attacks from land, air and sea.

Capt. Dave Gordam says intelligence efforts are being stepped up to prevent Canada's waters being used in a terrorist attack.

"We hope we have a good network of intelligence. We're certainly moving towards that. And everything that we do that allows us to freely pass that information improves that network."

Gordam says maritime security is a team effort between special forces, CSIS, Transport Canada and the RCMP.

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