Religion of Peace Nearly Strikes Canada

From The Washington Post:

Canadian intelligence agents and police have arrested 17 people who had amassed a huge cache of explosives and were ready to bomb public targets, authorities said Saturday.

The 12 men and five juveniles were seized in raids Friday night in the suburbs of Toronto. Police said the suspects, most of whom were believed to be Canadian citizens, had assembled three tons of ammonium nitrate and fashioned a cellphone into a detonator.

The bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 killed 168 people with two tons of the same chemical fertilizer packed in a truck.

Authorities declined to identify the group's planned targets, but a report in the Toronto Star said the sites included the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and the Toronto offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, near the famed CN Tower downtown.

The suspects appeared in a Toronto court Saturday to face charges under Canada's terrorism laws, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Authorities divulged few details about the men, who all had Arabic names and ranged in age from 19 to 43. Authorities said they would not discuss the juveniles.

Since the bombings of the London public transit system last summer, Canadian authorities have said they had no illusions that Canada was immune from attack. They warned of the hot anger in the radical fringes of the country's growing Muslim enclaves and said they believed the presence of Canadian troops in Afghanistan had fanned those passions. They have said they also knew of clandestine contacts between Canadian Muslims and extremists, including two American Muslims arrested this year in Georgia on terrorism charges.

"An attack on Canadian soil is now probable," Canada's spy agency warned Parliament last month. A top official of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service last week repeated the warning to senators, emphasizing the threat posed by terrorists born and bred in Canada.

Police said the suspects had trained together outside Toronto. Although an intelligence official, Luc Portelance, said the group members were "adherents of a virulent ideology inspired by al-Qaeda," police acknowledged they had no evidence of a direct link to the terrorist group.

Instead, most of the suspects were young students or workers who fed on the political debates swirling around Canada's mosques and immigrant Muslim neighborhoods, according to what could be learned about the men and their communities. They sharpened their radicalism over the Internet without traveling to the Middle East.

"They are Canadians. They came to Canada at an early age or were born here," Toronto's mayor, David Miller, said Saturday. He questioned "how people would get sucked into this act."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that "these individuals were allegedly intent on committing acts of terrorism against their own country, and their own people. Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism."

Intelligence and security agents have been aware of some the suspects for nearly two years, according to reports and statements by officials here. The suspects allegedly met at a "training camp," according to police near Toronto, and made videotapes of their training.

The seriousness of the threat became clearer to authorities when the two men from Georgia traveled to Toronto in March 2005 and met with other Muslims to discuss bombing targets, according to the FBI.

The two men, Syed Ahmed, 21, and Ehsanul Sadequee, 19, were arrested in March and April and face charges of giving material support to terrorism.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in a federal court in Atlanta at the time of the arrests, Ahmed and Sadequee discussed "strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike. They also plotted how to disable the global positioning system in an effort to disrupt military and commercial communications and traffic."

Three of the Canadian men they met were already under official suspicion here, according to the affidavit. An FBI official in Washington, Special Agent Richard Kolko, confirmed Saturday that "some of the Canadian subjects may have had limited contact with the two people recently arrested from Georgia."

In announcing the raids, however, Mike McDonell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said the group was "planning to commit a series of terrorist attacks against solely Canadian targets in southern Ontario," the province that includes Toronto.

McDonell indicated that the raids were undertaken as the group prepared to carry out an attack, but he said more specific information would have to emerge from court proceedings. He denied rumors that the targets included Toronto's subway system.

"This group posed a real and serious threat," he said. "They had the capacity and the intent to carry out these attacks."

Officials said they had dismantled the group but that further arrests were possible. They also warned that this was not the only group threatening Canada's security.

"Everybody is concerned about what we don't know," McDonell said. "We were able to stop this. It's what we don't know that's got us worried."

Portelance, of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said the agency would be "negligent if we said there were no other threats in Canada."

"For some time CSIS has been communicating to the public there is a real threat," he said at a news conference Saturday. "I don't want to be alarmist and have people think there are numerous other threats out there, but clearly law enforcement are investigating others here in Canada."

Prime Minister Harper, speaking to military recruits Saturday, said: "Their target, their alleged target, was Canada — Canada's institutions, Canada's economy, Canada's people.

"We are targeted because of who we are and the way we live," he said. "Because of our society, our diversity and our values."

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One Response to Religion of Peace Nearly Strikes Canada

  1. A One-Way Ticket to Disaster

    In the ensuing months, countless others crowded into the arena of online gossip, from individual bloggers who started Web sites,

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