RCMP fears retaliation if U.S. attacks
CREDIT: Herald Archives
Canada must improve its security or it will be seen as the "weak link" in the North American defence against terrorist attacks, says a secret report.
A secret RCMP intelligence brief on terrorism warns Canada will suffer terrorist attacks in the wake of any military action by the United States.
"Any U.S. military action will likely be interpreted as an unprovoked act of aggression that many Islamic extremists will use to initiate further terrorist activity against U.S. targets and their allies around the world," states the brief from the RCMP's Criminal Intelligence Directorate, dated Oct. 11, 2002.
The RCMP brief also indicates the activities of terrorists in Canada are reaching beyond fundraising and logistical support for "homeland issues," but it reveals no details.
The report urges Canada to improve its "security situation" because its proximity to the U.S. is seen as a vulnerability to American security. Failure to strengthen security means Canada will be, "the weak link in the North American defense against terrorism," it says.
The brief emerges amid strong warnings from U.S. President George W. Bush that Iraq faces military consequences over long-standing disputes over its possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Over the weekend, Iraq provided a declaration of its chemical, biological and nuclear programs just before Sunday's UN deadline. The documents were flown to UN headquarters in New York where they will be analysed.
The RCMP brief, marked "Secret" is titled, "A Year of Change in the Fight Against Terrorist Activity in Canada."
Three censored pages of the report were obtained by Ottawa researcher Jim Murray under the Access to Information Act.
The RCMP declined to elaborate on the suppressed sections, or comment on the parts that were released. Specifically, it refused to clarify if the authors of the report were referring to Iraq in the deleted segment that warned of further terrorist activity as fallout from any U.S. military action.
The first page of the brief remains largely intact and begins:
"Much has changed in North American society since last year's terrorist attacks in the U.S. Laws have been enacted, organizations revamped and security and law enforcement budgets increased," the report says.
"Canada is an increasingly multicultural country and, as a result, a number of homeland issues have played themselves out, sometimes in a violent and catastrophic manner," says the brief, which offers no details, but makes the following reference to terrorist-related activity in this country:
"Much of the terrorist-related activity in Canada has been limited to fundraising and logistical support for homeland issues, however this is changing."
It suggests Canada must strengthen its position in defending the continent.
"Canada is increasingly being perceived as a vulnerability in the U.S. security perimeter. Because of our close relationship with the U.S., economically, physically and culturally, we have an opportunity and a duty to improve our security situation," says the report.
It then warns: "Failure to do so will regulate Canada to playing the role of the weak link in the North American defence against terrorism.
"Although there have been no direct connections made between Canada and the suicide hijackers, the links to the 1999 Ressam case are still brought up as an example of Canada's role in the compromise of U.S. domestic security."
Ahmed Ressam sought asylum in Canada from Algeria in 1999.
Ressam never showed up for his refugee hearing, and was later arrested by American authorities as he tried to drive into the U.S. from Canada with a trunk load of explosives.
Ressam, who has since been convicted and jailed in the U.S., planned to blow up Los Angeles International airport. He was a member of a Montreal cell of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, which has strong ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., Canada moved quickly to enact the Anti-Terrorism Act, Bill C-36, which became law on Dec. 24, 2001.
"This legislation covers not only the commission of terrorist acts, but also the logistical and fundraising activities associated to terrorism. The act also provides for preventative activities on the part of law enforcement," the brief says.
"During the past year a number of investigations were started, others were already underway and some have been completed. They deal with not only Islamic terrorism but with other groups and individuals identified as priorities."
The report explains "in the area of Islamic terrorism, many of the investigations were initiated in support of U.S. investigations following the Sept. 11 attacks."
Other investigations, "were initiated as a result of the intelligence gathered in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, but were unrelated to them. A third category of investigations consists of investigations that were already underway before the Sept. 11 attacks."
Another passage says:
"In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., the RCMP saw a massive amount of information concerning Islamic terrorists pour in.
"The vast majority of it proved to be unfounded or inconsequential, yet requiring investigation.
A year later we have several solid investigations underway and many resources committed to assisting U.S. authorities track down those connected to the attacks."