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31 May 2006

Canada spy warns of home-grown terror

ISN SECURITY WATCH (Wednesday, 31 May 2006: 13.30 CET) – A Canadian intelligence official has warned lawmakers that the country faces a threat of home-grown terrorists and could see itself the victim of an attack similar to the 7 July bombings of London's transport network.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Deputy Director Jack Hooper told lawmakers in Ottawa on Monday that some Canadian citizens had trained in al-Qaida camps and that his agency lack the capability to investigate 90 per cent of immigrants coming into Canada in the past five years, Voice of America reported.

Hooper told the Canadian Senate Defense Committee on Monday that young Canadians with immigrant backgrounds were being radicalized through the internet and would likely seek targets at home, in Canada, according to CBC News.

"They are virtually indistinguishable from other youth. They blend in very well to our society, they speak our language, and they appear to be - to all intents and purposes - well-assimilated," Hooper told the committee.

"[They] look to Canada to execute their targeting," he said.

He compared the situation to Britain, warning of a repeat of the London bombings.

"I can tell you that all of the circumstances that led to the London transit bombings, to take one example, are resident here now in Canada," he said.

In an attempt to support his theory, he pointed out that a man who trained the bombers who attacked the US embassy in Nairobi in August 1998 was a Canadian resident who fought in Afghanistan.

Hooper suggested that the number of second- and third-generation extremists, born and raised in Canada and able to easily blend into the population, was increasing. He also said the number of non-traditional adherents to Islamic extremism was increasing, though it was unclear what he was basing this information on.

"We have cases of white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants converting to the most radical forms of Islam," he said. "These are people who blend in with us and our neighbors."

Some see Hooper's statement as a plea for additional intelligence funding, particularly to screen immigrant applicants.

At the same time, Hooper's grave statements could also spark a backlash of discrimination against immigrants in Canada, fanning the flames of suspicion and fear.

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