Saturday, November 28, 2009


*** The RCMP is badly in need of effective oversight. Something like a parliamentary office that oversees national security operations of CSIS and RCMP (in real-time) is certainly warranted. Given the Conservative government's inability to hold themselves accountable to the Canadian public, the obligation upon parliament is thus, clear. ***

Historical Context

Prior to 1984, the RCMP Security Service was responsible for providing security intelligence services to the Government of Canada. However, the Service’s involvement in illegal activities led the Commission of Inquiry Concerning Certain Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (McDonald Commission) to recommend that a new civilian security intelligence service be established.(1) Parliament disbanded the RCMP Security Service when it created the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in 1984. CSIS is subject to a high level of civilian oversight.

On 11 September 2001, terrorists hijacked several aircraft and attacked civilian and military targets in the United States. These attacks resulted in a high number of civilian casualties, caused extensive property damage, and had a disruptive effect on air travel and the global economy.

Following these events, Parliament passed the Anti-terrorism Act. This statute enacted the Charities Registration (Security Information) Act and amended 20 other laws. By defining terrorist support as a criminal offence, it changed the RCMP’s role and provided an opportunity for the organization to be more involved in matters of national security.(2)

Although Parliament expanded the role of the RCMP, it did not subject its national security functions to comprehensive civilian oversight. This has created a disparity between the review mechanisms for CSIS and the RCMP, whereby the RCMP is subject to less rigorous scrutiny.

Recent Events

A series of incidents have drawn attention to the expanded role of the RCMP. American authorities at New York’s Kennedy Airport arrested Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, in September 2002. Mr. Arar was then deported to Syria, where he spent 10 months in captivity and was tortured.(3) It has been reported that the RCMP provided information to the United States that may have contributed to his initial detention.(4) The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade attempted to clarify this point in a series of hearings in the fall of 2003, but had limited success.(5) However, a public inquiry later found that “it is very likely that, in making the decisions to detain and remove Mr. Arar, American authorities relied on information about Mr. Arar provided by the RCMP.”(6)

In January 2004, RCMP officers used search warrants issued under the Security of Information Act (SOIA) to raid the home and office of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O’Neill. It was reported that they were “looking for evidence that one of their own officers may have leaked damaging allegations in the … Maher Arar case.”(7) Following this event, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled that sections 4(1)(a), 4(3) and 4(4)(b) of the SOIA violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and ordered that the seized items be returned to Ms. O’Neill. The court also found that the issuance and execution of the warrants constituted an abuse of process by the RCMP, and ordered that they be quashed.(8) The Government of Canada decided not to appeal the court’s decision.(9)

Also in January 2004, the Government of Canada announced a public inquiry into the actions of Canadian officials dealing with the deportation and detention of Mr. Arar (O’Connor Commission). The terms of reference were issued the following month, and included a mandate for the presiding judge to “make any recommendations that he considers advisable on an independent, arm’s length review mechanism for the activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with respect to national security.”(10)

On 18 September 2006, Commissioner O’Connor issued his findings on the handling of the Arar case, repeatedly criticizing the RCMP’s conduct. Specifically, he found that the organization had breached its own policies on information sharing, provided American authorities with inaccurate information about Mr. Arar, given unclear and misleading direction to its own investigators, failed to properly oversee its own investigation of Mr. Arar, refused to support efforts by the Government of Canada to secure Mr. Arar’s release from jail in Syria, and when briefing the Privy Council Office and other senior government officials had omitted key facts that could have reflected adversely on the Force.(11)

Review Mechanisms for Canada's Security and Intelligence Agencies


The RCMP is Canada’s national police service. It came into existence in 1920 when the Royal North West Mounted Police and the Dominion Police were merged into a single entity. The RCMP was involved in the provision of security intelligence services to the Government of Canada during World War II. Its security operations were expanded after the war with the establishment of the Special Branch (1950), the Directorate of Security and Intelligence (1962), and the Security Service (1970). In 1984, Parliament disbanded the RCMP Security Service and transferred its functions to the newly created CSIS.

The RCMP now provides federal police services throughout the country. In addition, the organization also provides services to provinces, territories, municipalities and First Nations communities on a contract basis. Passage of the Anti-terrorism Act in 2001 provided an opportunity for the RCMP to be more involved in matters of national security, as this law defined terrorist support as a criminal offence.

The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (Commission) was established by Parliament in 1988. It is an independent civilian body that reports publicly to Parliament through the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The Commission investigates public complaints regarding the conduct of RCMP members. In most cases, complainants must first approach the RCMP. However, the Commission Chair does have limited authority to commence his or her own investigation or may proceed directly to a public interest hearing. The RCMP is not obligated to follow recommendations made by the Chair or by a public interest hearing panel.

Shirley Heafey, former Commission Chair, repeatedly called for new powers to better enable the Commission to review the RCMP’s anti-terrorism activities. This call has been echoed by her successor, Paul Kennedy. A rebalancing of the relationship between the RCMP and the Commission might also preclude further litigation between the two bodies regarding the sharing of information.

B. Canadian Security Intelligence Service

CSIS is a civilian agency that does not have any law enforcement powers. Its role is to “investigate threats, analyze information and produce intelligence”(13) and it may gather information only on those individuals and organizations suspected of engaging in espionage and sabotage, foreign-influenced activities, political violence and terrorism, and subversion. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act prohibits the organization from investigating lawful acts of advocacy, protest or dissent.

To ensure an appropriate level of accountability, CSIS activities are subject to scrutiny by an Inspector General. Appointed by Cabinet, and answering to a deputy minister, the Inspector General is to be “the Minister’s eyes and ears in the Service … and to maintain an appropriate degree of ministerial responsibility.”(14) The Inspector General is charged with monitoring compliance with operational policies, reviewing operational activities, and evaluating reports provided by the Director of CSIS to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

The Inspector General does not accept public complaints. However, he or she may conduct research and inquiries at the request of the Minister or the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). The Inspector General is entitled to have access to all CSIS information except Cabinet documents. However, he or she may not convene public hearings or make binding recommendations. In certain cases, the Inspector General’s reports are conveyed through the Minister to SIRC.

SIRC is an independent, external review body that reports publicly to Parliament through the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on an annual basis. It is empowered to examine CSIS’s performance of its duties and functions, and to investigate complaints made by any person regarding any act performed by the organization. SIRC is entitled to have access to all information held by CSIS and the Inspector General except Cabinet documents, but cannot hold public hearings or make binding recommendations.

C. Communications Security Establishment

The CSE was established in 1946. Originally, it was the Communications Branch of the National Research Council. In 1975, however, it was transferred to the Department of National Defence.

The role of the CSE is to “provide the Government of Canada with two key services: foreign signals intelligence in support of defence and foreign policy, and the protection of electronic information and communication.”(15) This role is set out in the National Defence Act.

The Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner was created in June 1996. The Commissioner is independent and has authority to review CSE activities to ensure they comply with Canadian law, and investigate complaints against the agency. Although the National Defence Act empowers the Commissioner to undertake any investigation that he or she considers necessary in response to a complaint, only complaints made by Canadian citizens and permanent residents, including CSE employees, are accepted at present. The Commissioner has access to all CSE information holdings; however, he or she may not convene public hearings or issue binding recommendations.

The Commissioner submits an annual report to the Minister of National Defence that is tabled in Parliament. Results of reviews of certain CSE activities are also submitted to the Minister; these, however, are not made public as they contain secret information.

Options for Oversight of the RCMP's National Security Functions

A. Strengthening the Role of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP

The table above points to a number of similarities between the Commission and SIRC. Both operate independently, receive public complaints, and have the power to initiate and conduct their own investigations, and to make recommendations. Key differences remain, however.

First, SIRC has a broader mandate. The Commission is devoted to receiving and investigating complaints of misconduct made by members of the public, while SIRC is charged with reviewing the performance by CSIS of all of its duties and functions. The receipt and investigation of complaints, while important, is but one part of a much larger oversight function.

Second, SIRC has broader powers to carry out its mandate. The most important of these is the right of access to information. The Commission may have access only to information held by the RCMP that is relevant to a particular complaint, and this has caused disagreement between the two organizations. SIRC, however, is entitled to all information held by CSIS and the Inspector General, except Cabinet documents.

There is a certain logic to the arguments that favour an expansion of the Commission’s role over the establishment of a second review mechanism. After all, the Commission is well established, already familiar with the RCMP’s duties, functions and organizational culture, and known to the public. In the second report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar, Commissioner O’Connor recommended that the Commission be restructured and renamed the Independent Complaints and National Security Review Agency for the RCMP (ICRA).(16) The ICRA would have jurisdiction to review all of the RCMP’s activities, including those related to national security.(17) Specifically, the Commissioner recommended that the ICRA have the authority to conduct self-initiated reviews using comprehensive new powers including the power to decide what information is necessary to fulfil its mandate, and to subpoena documents and compel testimony from any federal, provincial, municipal or private sector person or entity.(18)

B. Establishing a New Review Mechanism for the RCMP

Alternatively, the Government of Canada could opt for a two-tiered review mechanism for the RCMP. This mechanism could take a variety of forms, including:

1. retaining the Commission in its present form (i.e., primarily a complaint review mechanism) while granting a new agency powers to review the RCMP’s national security functions;
2. maintaining the Commission as a review mechanism for most complaints while granting a new agency powers to review the RCMP’s national security functions and process a limited number of complaints (i.e., only complaints of misconduct against RCMP personnel involved in investigating matters of national security);
3. abolishing the Commission and adopting the model used to review CSIS’s activities (i.e., an Inspector General or equivalent plus an oversight committee).

It is suggested that in the event that a two-tiered model is selected, care will have to be taken to ensure that the roles of the two agencies are complementary.
C. Leaving the Existing Review Mechanism for the RCMP Unchanged

Finally, the Government of Canada could opt to leave the existing structures in place. After all, the mandate of the Commission does not preclude it from investigating complaints of misconduct against RCMP personnel involved in investigating matters of national security. While the Commission’s oversight powers are more limited than those of either SIRC or the CSE Commissioner, most of the federal departments and agencies with national security functions currently operate without scrutiny by any review mechanism. Nonetheless, the RCMP’s apparent reluctance to fully cooperate with the Commission where matters of national security are involved,(19) coupled with the recommendations of the O’Connor Commission, make the status quo an unlikely choice.

*References cited can be viewed at the source document at:

Friday, November 27, 2009


Since 9/11, Muslim informants have gathered evidence for the government about a number of alleged plots by Muslims to attack American targets. These informants have won the confidence of the alleged Muslim plotters, and then pretended to participate in the alleged plots while making tape and video recordings for the government. Some Muslims work as informants for money; to avoid criminal charges for their own alleged crimes; or to get immigration benefits. One Muslim informant has publicly stated that it was his religious duty to help the government. Here are some examples:

An Egyptian-American Muslim informant, Osama Eldawoody, helped convict an Egyptian-American Muslim in NY, James Elshafay, and a Pakistani Muslim immigrant, Shahawar Matin Siraj, of conspiring to blow up a NY subway station. The NYPD paid the informant $100,000 to watch the local community. The informant offered to provide the Defendants with explosives for the subway attack. The Defendants said the informer suggested the plot and incited them to act by showing them pictures of Muslims overseas being mistreated and by telling them he had received a fatwa saying it was okay for Muslims to kill American troops.

A Pakistani Muslim informant, Naseem Khan, helped convict a Pakistani-American Muslim from Lodi, CA, Hamid Hayat, of providing material support to terrorists by attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The government paid the informant around $225,000 to move to Lodi and infiltrate the Muslim community. The informant encouraged Hayat to talk about fighting America, encouraged Hayat to attend a terrorist training camp, and cursed at Hayat when Hayat said he hadn’t yet attended the camp.

A Yemeni Muslim informant, Mohamed Alanssi, helped convict an African-American Muslim in NY, Tariq Shah, of pledging allegiance to Al Qaeda and offering to train Al Qaeda members in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat. The government paid the informant $100,000.

An Egyptian Muslim informant, Mahmoud Omar, and an Albanian Muslim informant, Besnik Bakalli, infiltrated the so-called Fort Dix Six, a group charged with plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix (where troops train for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan) in New Jersey. Omar was a convicted criminal facing additional criminal charges and deportation; in exchange for his assistance, the government paid Omar approximately $240,000 and agreed not to pursue criminal charges or to deport him. Bakalli was an illegal alien who faced deportation; in exchange for his assistance, the government agreed not to deport Bakalli and to let some of his relatives come from Albania to live in the U.S. FBI tapes show that Omar offered to organize an attack on U.S. soldiers, urged the lead suspect to stop procrastinating, and offered to buy guns so the group could train for an attack.

A White Muslim informant, William “Jamaal” Chrisman, helped convict an African-American Muslim, Derrick Shareef, who pled guilty to plotting to attack a Rockford, IL shopping mall with hand grenades. “What brought me to the government was after 9-11 Muslim scholars in Saudi Arabia and Morocco said it was incumbent on Muslims to stop terrorists,” Chrisman testified. “Anyone involved in terrorism was deemed the brother of the devil.”

The case of Canadian Muslim informant Mubin Shaikh drew a lot of attention in 2006. Shaikh, a well-known activist within the Muslim community, offered to work undercover for Canadian intelligence in 2004. After the Canadian government learned about an alleged plot by Canadian Muslims, the government asked Shaikh to infiltrate the alleged cell in 2005. He won the trust of the alleged plotters, and went so far as to help lead a training camp during the alleged plot. The Canadian government paid him approximately $300,000.

Arguments By Those Who Believe That American Muslims Should Not Work As Government Informants

1. Spying is prohibited under Islamic law. The Qur’an (or Recitation) says, “And do not spy or backbite each other.” (49:12) In addition, Abu Hurairah reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the falsest of speech. Do not eavesdrop; do not spy on one another; do not envy one another; do not forsake one another; do not hate one another. Be, O slaves of Allah, brothers.” (Al-Bukhari, 5144; Muslim, 2563) Therefore, if a Muslim happens to learn about a plot, it may be okay to tell authorities; but it’s wrong to pretend to join a plot, win the trust of the plotters, and then spy on fellow Muslims.

***MS*** Let me quote the WHOLE verse: "O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear Allah. For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."

The ayah here refers to spying for the purpose of rumour-mongering hence the ending of the verse; which is associated with backbiting. The verse does not discuss the profession of intelligence ("...SOME spying is a sin" - other spying is a necessary part of national stability through security). At the end of the day, when the spy is gathering information or evidence, it is so that charges are not brought simply by anonymous phone calls to the authorities but eyewitness evidence! ***

2. American Muslims should be loyal to their fellow Muslims who attack the U.S. to punish America for its abuse of Muslims in the Muslim world, and to force a change in American foreign policy.

***MS*** The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said, "There is no harm nor the reciprocating of harm" (not to be confused with defense). Secondly, since when was it the job of any Muslim to change governments by violence? Is this what Muhammad (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) did? Did he overtake by force or by mercy? How well has violent rebellion worked out for us throughout our history? So, why do we think it would change anything now? Do not forget that Islam was STRICTLY pacifist until the verses of jihad more than TEN YEARS after the revelation of the Quran began - so tell me again how perpetual jihad is what Allah calls to? ***

3. Informants entrap innocent Muslims by encouraging them to become angry about American policy and then suggesting that they plot attacks.

***MS*** To suggest anything that the suspect would not normally do - is entrapment. To play along with an EXISTING plot - is called getting eyewitness evidence because remember, anonymous phone calls alone are not sufficient. ***

4. Any Muslim, informant or otherwise, who learns about a plot should simply try to persuade the plotters to stop, either on religious grounds, or by telling them that the government knows about the plot.

***MS*** And if they still don't stop? Then what? ***

5. The informant’s presence gives encouragement to the plotters to continue their plot. Without the informant’s presence, the plotters might give up. For example, if the informant does not offer to help them obtain weapons or pick targets, they might not go further than talk.

***MS*** MIGHT not. When a guy is looking to find weapons, if it is not the government agent who is a Muslim it will be someone else, believe it. ***

6. The plot may not be real. It may just be a group of angry Muslims talking tough. They might not actually do anything.

***MS*** MIGHT not. Without eyes and ears in the group - at least you will know FOR CERTAIN what is going to happen (or not) based on direct knowledge. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) taught us, "doubt does not bring one to certainty". Let us also not forget that talk leads to action. ***

7. The presence of Muslim informants in the American Muslim community damages the American Muslim community. American Muslims begin to lose trust in one another when they believe that some of their fellow Muslims might be spying on them.

***MS*** The presence of terrorists damages Islam and Muslims and pushes people away from coming to the worship of Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Humanity begins to lose trust in Muslims when they feel the Muslims will not stand up to help them against the fitnah of terrorism. WHICH do you think has more value in the eyes of Allah; a Muslims who is law-abiding OR a Muslims who is causing fitnah (corruption) in the society, which in turn brings all of Islam under attack? It's not rocket science. ***

Arguments By Those Who Believe That American Muslims Should Work As Government Informants

1. In 2005, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa saying, “It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.” Islamic prohibitions on spying relate to spying for personal reasons, or spying without just cause. However, when there is evidence that someone is plotting an attack which could kill people of all faiths (including innocent Muslims), Muslims must do whatever they can to prevent such an attack. After all, an attack on civilians would violate Islamic law; furthermore, Muslims are required to obey the law of the country where they live, and such attacks would clearly violate American law. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that when a Muslim is doing something wrong, the best way to help that person is by stopping him from wrongdoing. Furthermore, the Prophet spied on enemy positions during battle.

2. American Muslims should be loyal to America, which has given them religious freedom, political freedom, and the opportunity to make a good life for their families. Furthermore, violence in the U.S. isn’t the right way to change American foreign policy; American Muslims should work through the political process.

3. Informants should not be suggesting plots to Muslims; but if a Muslim has already decided to commit an act of violence, an informant can help monitor the plot for the government.

4. If a Muslim approves of violence, but is not planning violence, it’s fine to try to change his views; in fact, the American Muslim community should be openly dialoguing about issues like violence, so that no one is even tempted to become violent. But committed plotters cannot be easily persuaded to renounce violence. If an informant tries to talk the plotters out of the plot, they will lose trust in him, he will lose access to the plotters, and law enforcement may lose track of the plotters.

5. While the presence of an informant may help further the plot, serious plotters don’t need the informant’s help. If the informant is not in the loop, the plotters can look elsewhere for help getting training, casing targets, or acquiring weapons. It’s better if they are talking to an informant than to someone who is really helping to advance the plot.

6. If there is no real plot, and if the Muslims do not take any steps towards action (like going to training camps, casing targets, or acquiring weapons), no charges will be brought. But an informant has to be present to keep an eye on the situation in case the plot turns out to be real.

7. The presence of Muslim informants in the American Muslim community benefits the American Muslim community. Potentially-violent Muslims are less likely to plot attacks, because of their fear that Muslim informants may be watching. Furthermore, potentially-violent Muslims are more likely to be stopped, if they try to proceed with a plot, because Muslim informants are reporting their activities to the authorities. That reduces the chances of a future attack which could kill Americans (including American Muslims) and which would result in a backlash against innocent American Muslim men, women, and children. Furthermore, by demonstrating loyalty to the U.S., Muslim informants improve the American Muslim community’s image in America.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Anwar Awlaki is acting contrary to the example of the Prophet of God - as is every single one who thinks by rebellion and war alone, will Muslims gain dignity, honour and power.

For CENTURIES, Muslim theologians were also the scholars of philosophy, medicine, sociology and so on. Today, only a handful of (traditionally-trained) Muslim scholars can engage the works of Plato and Aristotle. Heck, some say to even learn philosophy is blasphemy - and they have the decapitated heads to prove it.

I agree we should go back into the Golden Age of Islam but that supposes we are masters of knowledge, faithful to God and respectful of all humanity. Peace, Justice - this is what Islam calls for. Jihad was supposed to be a means to an end - not the very goal we strive for. But what would Allah know about that right?

For CENTURIES, Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in peace and harmony and created an environment in which great learning spread through the lands. Jewish linguists took great benefit from the scholars of Arabic language. Christians took back with them, the very philosophical foundations of the Enlightenment (all of the major Enlightenment scholars are post Muslim Spain).

Today, this environment is found only in the West we love to condemn. True, it has its failings but that is a part of the human experience. Stop trying to push this idea of a magical, Islam-land in which everyone is like the Sahaba. That is NOT the reality.

These great things that Muslims achieved in those centuries was a direct result of what Islam taught them. The Crusades were not called for by Muslims and every historical account shows Muslims acted far more justly than the Christian Crusaders. Need we cite the magnanimity of Salahuddin Al Ayyubi during this period? We look to him only as a General who routed the Christians and recaptured Jerusalem yet we forget HOW he did it: high moral ground folks. Richard the Lionheart was most impressed with him. Read about the Knights Templar and how much respect they had for their Muslim opponents. THOSE were days of chivalry and honour - today, we put cooking pots with explosives in it - blow up 10 Muslims to kill one Infidel and we call it Jihad?! How about you FEED the people with those pots? Crazy idea, I know.

Let's go right back to the originator of the Great Example: after years of torture and persecution by the pagan Arabs, and even after he was in a position of superiority over them, what did Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) do when he returned victorious to Mecca?

Did he slay everyone? Did he kill their children? Destroy their crops? Their buildings? The stables for their animals? Did he then go on a killing spree of every non Muslim?

"Go - you are free" is what everyone knows from the reliable Islamic sources. He gave amnesty to one of his worst enemies, Abu Sufyan.

Now you know why he was called Mercy to the Worlds - why his number one quality was trustworthiness and not deception, honesty not propaganda, love not hate.

Today, so-called "Shuyukh" like Anwar al-Awlaki feed Muslim minds with emotion; with ideas that sound very Islamic but are totally against the example of our human role model. Teaching our youth to go and fight instead of making something in which ALL people in the world can benefit. Where are our masters of science? Where are those wonders of poetry, of math, of trade?

They blew themselves up yesterday in Jihad - they were still only in their 20's. You are sending boys to be killed for only one reason: you are not man enough yourself.

Anwar Awlaki, I ask you: how do you think Ft. Hood's attack benefits the Deen of Allah? How does peace come upon the earth by these actions? There are millions of us living in the West who have this crazy idea that people should come to know Allah - Who He is and what He expects from us, " a way that is kind and just".

Anwar Awlaki: Repent and reflect on the error of this death-cult of perpetual jihad against everyone, everywhere, at all times by self-righteousness labels of who is a murtad, a munafiq and a kafir as if Hudhayfah Ibn Al Yaman's list is in your hands.

You prevent people from knowing Allah and that is a crime I find you guilty of.


*** As of Dec.17, 2009, reports indicating Anwar Awlaki has been killed by a drone strike are premature. MS ***

Monday, November 9, 2009


I remember first learning about Remembrance Day through the Army Cadets and so understood why the purpose of the assembly in high school.

I remember tagging for poppies outside of the Dominion and other grocers in those snowy December nights in our cadet uniforms. Thank God for those full-length wool coats!

I remember Remembrance Day parades, when we would march in the streets with everyone else, the bagpipes constructing a melody that made you want to march all day.

I remember hearing those bagpipes play "Amazing Grace" in the Church and raising the hairs of the back of my neck to attention. I was not bothered at all with the fact I was Muslim - I was moved by it.

I remember talking to the very old men, their chests splayed with medals and tales of heroism, of cowardice, of fear and of hope.

I remember those brave souls who went into the horrors of war, only so that you and I could have what we enjoy now: free health care, roads, sewage systems, and the other delights of civilized, advanced society.

I remember - so Lest We Forget.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Prisons as Breeding Ground for Islamist Extremism

Something is missing from the debate over prison reform: What is Canada to do about the influx of incarcerated Islamist terrorists?

Since March, 2009, seven suspected Canadian terrorists, including Momin Khawaja, Said Namouh and five members of the Toronto 18, have been prosecuted. Another half-dozen trials are ongoing.

Canadians should commend the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, local police and various branches of the judiciary for successfully tracking, foiling and indicting these individuals. But imprisoning terrorists poses a challenge.

The associated risk is prison radicalization, wherein members of the general prison population are introduced to and convert to militant interpretations of radical Islam. Already, Crown prosecutors have revealed that one Toronto 18 member, Ali Dirie, “took an active role in recruiting other inmates to adopt extreme jihadi beliefs” while under remand.

Prisons are filled with young and often dangerous individuals with a predisposition for anti-social behaviour. Some consider themselves victims of society and may be especially susceptible to ideologies that espouse retribution.

International trends suggest that prison radicalization and recruitment are common. Richard Reid, the 2001 shoe bomber, and Muktar Said Ibrahim, involved with the second and failed London attacks in 2005, were radicalized while serving time for petty crimes in Britain. Jamal Ahmidan, a leader of the 2004 Madrid bombings, was radicalized while serving time for theft. Mohamed Achraf, while serving time for credit-card fraud in Spain, established the Martyrs for Morocco, recruiting nearly 20 inmates for attacks on Spain's National Court. Safe Bourada created the Partisans of Victory while serving time in France and recruited convicts for attacks in Paris. Jose Padilla, currently serving a 17-year terrorism conviction, and Michael Finton, arrested last month while allegedly attempting to detonate a bomb in Illinois, were both introduced to radical Islam while serving time on non-terrorism-related charges. And Kevin James founded the Assembly of Authentic Islam behind bars in California, recruiting two fellow inmates for attacks in Los Angeles.

Preventing similar outcomes in Canada will take five steps.

First, we need to better understand how extremist ideologies spread within prison. Lessons are to be found from existing research on prison gangs and the radicalization of white supremacists. We can also follow the lead of other countries and establish a national counter-radicalization task force. By bringing together academics, policy-makers and community experts, trends can be monitored and countered.

Second, extremists need to be segregated from the general prison population. We should ensure that there are enough qualified imams for Canadian prisons to eliminate the risk that radical inmates will use a dearth of leadership to captivate a susceptible audience, spread violent views and recruit. Lectures and courses could be offered to ensure that newly observant inmates receive a full, rather than selective, reading of their new faith and practice. Also, ensuring that Muslim inmates have what they need to practise their faith, from halal food to prayer halls, might help to avert grievances.

Third, prison officials need to be trained to recognize and impede radicalization. We should imitate the French and publish a prison guide that traces the indicators of radicalization. Intelligence on radicals should be collected and properly shared between prisons. Ensuring the Correctional Service of Canada has the means to co-ordinate with other agencies might also require establishing new partnerships. For instance, California's Joint Regional Intelligence Center puts local prison officials in constant contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, Los Angeles Police Department and Department of Homeland Security.

Fourth, specific inmates should be tracked and monitored as they move through the correctional system. If required, they should be contained. The British dispersal strategy, which spreads convicted terrorists around the country, and France's use of displacement, which impedes criminal bonding by moving radicals around, are two suggestions.

Finally, Canada should follow through after prisoner release. Helping inmates reintegrate into society will impede radical groups outside prison from preying on former convicts. Some inmates should be required, upon release, to enroll in de-radicalization programs, such as the Specialized De-Radicalization Intervention program in Toronto. And those who have renounced violence should be encouraged to help turn others away from terrorism.

With terrorists heading to Canadian jails, this is the time to take action – before they have time to recruit.

Alex Wilner is a fellow in defence and security with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in Halifax and a senior researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.


RCMP Needs More Money to Prosecute Terrorism

Canada's top Mountie wants his force to be the lead federal agency for counterterrorism, but says the Conservative government must pony up the funds for the added police work.

In a rare speech, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said fighting terrorism is rightfully viewed as primarily a police responsibility. He argued there are clear limitations to what spy agencies and secret intelligence can accomplish in isolation.

"Counterterrorism measures based exclusively on intelligence, that fall short of evidentiary thresholds, are fraught with danger and difficulty," Mr. Elliott said. He added that "intelligence should always be gathered with one eye on following how to turn it into admissible evidence."

He stressed that only police - and not spies - have the power to put terrorists in jail. Yet the lion's share of the federal billions in post-9/11 resources went to Canada's intelligence agencies, he said, adding the RCMP got a relative pittance.

The speech amounted to a declaration of the growing ambitions of the Mounties, once akin to junior partners of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in terms of national-security investigations.

Federal security agencies all agree that teamwork is necessary to guard against threats, and that everyone has a role to play. But with a chastened CSIS facing increasing judicial scrutiny and public skepticism, the RCMP - emboldened by some recent terrorism prosecutions - is essentially calling for the ball.

"The next chapter must be written by law-enforcement," Mr. Elliott said, adding more RCMP terrorism cases are about to be launched.

An influential civil servant who was appointed two years ago to become the first civilian head of the RCMP, Mr. Elliott was the keynote speaker at a security-intelligence conference yesterday.

More resources to investigate terrorists and push the cases through the courts, he said, "would certainly be one step to enhancing security relationships with the United States."

Observers pointed out that the RCMP's emboldened stand on fighting terrorism contrasted with defensive remarks made a day earlier by the new head of CSIS. Dick Fadden had castigated Canadians for being unmindful of terrorist threats.

Wesley Wark, a professor specializing in national security matters, said he preferred the RCMP's message.

"The way to educate Canadians is not to complain about Canadians not understanding the threat, but actually to bring cases to court and win prosecutions," said Prof. Wark, who is an executive member of the Canadian Association of Security and Intelligence Studies, which organized the conference.

The 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act criminalized a broad range of terrorism offences. But police investigations flowing from the new law have garnered only seven total convictions of individuals to date, all of them in the past year or so.

Mr. Elliott said al-Qaeda remains the biggest terrorist threat to Canada. Hezbollah and Tamil Tiger operatives based in Canada are also problems, he said, as are radicalized Somalis who may have fought in their homeland al-Shabab insurgent movement.


*You cannot be effective against terrorism by jailing everyone and demonizing the entire community, which you then expect to help you. Address the root causes and try to prevent and disrupt using intelligence - which is the primary reason why CSIS should be the lead agency NOT the RCMP in my respectful submission.

When it comes to clear violations of the Criminal Code of Canada - kick in the doors (if required), haul 'em out in cuffs and deliver them to the courts for prosecution.

CSIS Boss: Terrorists Portrayed as Folk-Heroes

In his first public speech, the new director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service chastised those critical of Canada's efforts to fight terrorism.

"Many of our opinion leaders have come to see the fight against terrorism not as defending democracy and our values, but as attacking them," Richard Fadden told an Ottawa conference of security and intelligence experts Thursday.

"Almost any attempt to fight terrorism by the government is portrayed as an overreaction or an assault on liberty. It is a peculiar position, given that terrorism is the ultimate attack on liberties. If terrorists believe in anything, it is nihilism and death, and they are equal opportunity oppressors."

Why, he asked: "Are those accused of terrorist offences often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes, despite the harsh statements of numerous judges?"

"It sometimes seems that to be accused of having terrorist connections in Canada has become a status symbol, a badge of courage in the struggle against the real enemy, which apparently is government.

"To some members of civil society, there is a certain romance to this. This loose partnership of single-issue NGOs, advocacy journalists and lawyers who double as public relations consultants has succeeded, to a certain extent, in forging a positive public image for anyone accused of terrorist links or charges."

Fadden also revealed the service's dilemma in the recent security certificate case of suspected terrorist Adil Charkaoui.

A Federal Court this month killed the government's case against the Montreal man after government lawyers refused to reveal their detailed evidence against him, citing national security concerns.

The disclosure demand, "pushed us beyond what we could accept," explained Fadden.

"We were faced with a dilemma: to disclose information that would have given would-be terrorists a virtual road map to our tradecraft and sources; or to withdraw that information from the case, causing a security certificate to collapse.

"We chose the path that would cause the least long-term damage to Canada and withdrew the information. We did this because an intelligence agency that cannot protect its sources and tradecraft cannot be credible or effective."

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


*The Director forgot to add that not only are the suspects portrayed as heroes, it is the agent that is portrayed as villain. ;)