Canada called a terror target
For arrest, deportation of Al-Qa'ida suspects; Intelligence report is latest indication from Ottawa there might be genuine threat from global network
Monday, November 22, 2004
TORONTO - A new Canadian intelligence report says terrorists might attack Canada in retaliation for the arrests of suspected Al-Qa'ida associates who are being deported for reasons of national security.
In the report, titled Al-Qa'ida: Potential Threats to North American Targets, the federal government's threat analysis unit said Canada's efforts to deport Al-Qa'ida suspects could trigger a violent response.
"Canadian agencies have aggressively pursued removal proceedings against inadmissible classes of foreign nationals associated with Al-Qa'ida constituents, which may also provide extremists with an impetus to attack Canadian interests."
The report by the Integrated National Security Assessment Centre (INSAC) was labelled Restricted Distribution because of its "sensitive nature," but a copy was disclosed to the National Post under the Access to Information Act.
It is the latest signal to emerge from Ottawa that there might be a genuine Al-Qa'ida threat to Canada, even if many Canadians do not consider their country to be in the sights of the global jihadist terror network.
Canadian authorities have captured several alleged Al-Qa'ida associates in Ontario and Quebec, notably Egyptians Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohamed Mahjoub, Adil Charkaoui of Morocco and Algerian Mohammed Harkat.
Several others, such as Algerians Samir Air Mohamed of Vancouver and Abdellah Ouzghar of Hamilton, were arrested for extradition to stand trial in the United States and France respectively.
Last March, Canadian police arrested an Ottawa computer expert on charges he was part of a radical cell that was plotting a bombing in Britain. He is alleged to have used his computer skills to help build a bomb using ammonium nitrate.
The report notes that Al-Qa'ida ranked Canada as "the fifth most important Christian country to be targeted, following the U.S., the U.K., Spain and Australia." Of those, Canada is the only one to not have suffered an attack.
Canadian security agencies say they have found indicators terrorists might be in the planning stages of an attack, including incidents involving the videotaping of possible targets in Toronto. Last year, Pakistani authorities found a list of Canadian targets in the pocket of a captured Al-Qa'ida operative.
Although the Liberals opposed the invasion of Iraq, Al-Qa'ida considers Canada a legitimate target because of the Canadian troop presence in Afghanistan and Ottawa's participation in the U.S.-led war on terror.
One of Canada's main counterterrorism tools is a section of the immigration law that allows the government to deport non-Canadians suspected of involvement in terrorist groups.
INSAC is based at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and is composed of federal security agencies including CSIS, RCMP, national defence, foreign affairs and immigration.
© The Gazette (Montreal) 2004
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