Tuesday, February 23, 2010


*** Have we not learned yet that torture backfires every time? Not only is it notorious for producing false information but creates a new level of anger and animosity - not to mention fertile grounds for lawsuits against the government. It is frequently used to demonstrate that no moral ground at all exists let alone the high ground within the apparatus of our governments. Involvement in it - even passively - significantly damages our credibility. Lastly, it serves as a better recruiting tool than any Bin Laden tape, jihadi video, jihadi forum etc. - ever could.

There ARE other ways to elicit information and actionable intelligence but I wonder if we are mature enough to hear some ideas.

One thing to note is all this information is made available to us due to the oversight CSIS is subject to and due to the open and (relatively) fair justice system it continues to find itself in. It is not at all to be taken as an accusation of involvement with torture because when in Egypt, Canadian laws are not respected by the torturers - many of whom (by the way) are Muslim themselves. Think about that. This opinion is, of course, my own. MS ***

FROM: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100223/national/csis_torture

OTTAWA - Newly released records say Canada's spy agency travelled to Egypt to get information from a Toronto man, likely contributing to his mistreatment by authorities there.

The previously unknown visit by Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers emerged Tuesday as a federal commission disclosed once-secret pages of an inquiry report on the overseas torture of Ahmad El Maati and two other Arab-Canadians.

The Harper government and commission lawyers squabbled for more than a year about the sensitive portions of the report, which the government balked at making public due to national security concerns.

In his report released in October 2008, former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found that Canadian officials were likely partly to blame for the torture of El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin by sharing information - including unfounded accounts of extremism - with foreign agencies.

The men, all of whom deny involvement in terrorism, were abused in Syrian prison cells.

El Maati, 45, was tortured by Egyptian captors as well.

A dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen, the truck driver was arrested in November 2001 upon arriving in Syria, where he was to be married. El Maati spent over two months at the notorious Far Falestin prison in Damascus.

He was transferred to Egypt in January 2002, spending another two years in "degrading and inhumane conditions," Iacobucci found.

In the release Tuesday, the former judge says CSIS asked Egyptian authorities in June 2002 if El Maati was in their custody without taking into account how this would affect "the manner in which he might be treated."

Witnesses from both CSIS and the RCMP told the inquiry it was not the responsibility of intelligence or law-enforcement officials to be concerned about the human rights of a Canadian detainee - that this was the sole consideration of Foreign Affairs.

"This approach is not, in my opinion, satisfactory," Iacobucci says.

After receiving approval to travel to Egypt, CSIS prepared a list of questions about El Maati.

Iacobucci says that in the list of questions and during its December 2002 visit to Egypt, CSIS "did not make any inquiries with Egyptian authorities about Mr. El Maati's treatment in either Syria or Egypt, despite knowing that Mr. El Maati had alleged that he was tortured in Syria."

Iacobucci concludes that El Maati "suffered mistreatment of some form as a consequence of the Service's interaction with Egyptian authorities."

El Maati and the two other men are suing federal agencies for compensation, but the government has denied any responsibility despite Iacobucci's conclusions.

Iacobucci produced two editions of his report: one confidential version for government eyes only, and a second that was released publicly.

But a small portion of the 544-page public report was held back because the government argued it could compromise security.

"The information that forms the exception is, in my view, directly relevant to my mandate and should be disclosed to the public," the former judge said in his report.

Iacobucci has already said that El Maati's mistreatment resulted indirectly from several "deficient" actions: the RCMP's sharing of information; attempts by the Mounties to interview him in Egypt, and an expression of concern by CSIS about El Maati and his activities if he were to be released.

Iacobucci told reporters in 2008 he would go to Federal Court to try to dislodge the still-secret material if negotiations did not succeed. "It's just something that I think should be in the public report."


FROM: http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/usa/US-Concerned-by-Threat-of-Domestic-Extremists-84925877.html

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says authorities are becoming more concerned about American citizens or legal residents becoming involved in terrorist plots against the United States.

Speaking Sunday in Washington to a gathering of U.S. state governors, Napolitano said law enforcement officials do not have good methods for preventing people from becoming violent extremists.

In one recent case, five young Pakistani men who lived in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., traveled to Pakistan where they allegedly attempted to join militant Islamist groups.

In a separate incident, an Afghan-born resident of the western state of Colorado was arrested last year and charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.

Officials at the meeting of U.S. governors endorsed outreach efforts by law enforcement agencies to Muslim communities.

*** Great! Canada and the United States are at least on the same page by making the same mistakes (law enforcement lacking ability to prevent as well as poor outreach efforts). This is not to say the cooperation between the two is excellent, however, serious lapses exist and must be dealt with quickly and efficiently. Policing alone is not a solution - it will require a whole-of-apparatus approach. MS ***


*** For God's sake people - get your act together: do you really want to be responsible for an attack all because of who gets to pee on the tree first? MS ***

FROM: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/us/politics/23center.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

WASHINGTON — The nation’s main counterterrorism center, created in response to the intelligence failures in the years before Sept. 11, is struggling because of flawed staffing and internal cultural clashes, according to a new study financed by Congress.

The result, the study concludes, is a lack of coordination and communication among the agencies that are supposed to take the lead in planning the fight against terrorism, including the C.I.A. and the State Department. The findings come just weeks after the National Counterterrorism Center was criticized for missing clear warning signs that a 23-year-old Nigerian man was said to be plotting to blow up a Detroit-bound commercial airliner on Dec. 25.

The counterterrorism center’s mission is to gather information from across the government, pull it all together and assess terrorist threats facing the United States, then develop a plan for the government to combat them. But the new report found that the center’s planning arm did not have enough authority to do its main job of coordinating the White House’s counterterrorism priorities.

The center’s planning operation is supposed to be staffed by representatives of various agencies, but not all of them send their best and brightest, the report said. It also cited examples in which the C.I.A. and the State Department did not even participate in some plans developed by the center that were later criticized for lacking important insights those agencies could offer.

As a result, the center’s planning arm “has been forced to develop national plans without the expertise of some of the most important players,” the report determined.

The counterterrorism center was part of the overhaul of the government after Sept. 11, including the creation of the director of national intelligence. Now, years after the attacks, the entire reorganization is coming under scrutiny, raising fundamental questions about who is in charge of the nation’s counterterrorism policy and its execution.

The fluid nature of modern terrorism necessitates an agile and integrated response,” the report concluded. “Yet our national security system is organized along functional lines (diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement, etc.) with weak and cumbersome integrating mechanisms across these functions.”

The 196-page report is the result of an eight-month study by the Project on National Security Reform, a nonpartisan research and policy organization in Washington. It was financed by Congress and draws on more than 60 interviews with current and former government and Congressional officials, including nearly a dozen officials at the counterterrorism center. The study is scheduled to be made public this week. The authors provided a copy to The New York Times.

The center noted in a statement on Monday that the study found the center had “made progress” in linking national policy with operations, adding that the report’s recommendations “provide an extremely thoughtful and useful critique of how counterterrorism actions are or are not fully synchronized across the U.S. government.”

The report found that the center’s planning arm struggled with “systemic impediments” like overlapping statutes, culture clashes with different agencies and tensions with two formidable players: the State Department’s counterterrorism office and the C.I.A.

Under President Obama, the report determined, counterterrorism issues have become more decentralized within the National Security Council’s different directorates, leaving the counterterrorism center’s planning arm to collect and catalog policies and operations going on at the C.I.A., the Pentagon and the Departments of State and Homeland Security, rather than help shape overall government strategy.

The planning arm has not yet figured out good ways to measure the effectiveness of the steps the government is taking against extremists. “The basic but fundamental question remains unanswered: How is the United States doing in its attempt to counter terrorism?” the report concluded. And the study is critical of Congress for failing to create committees that cut across national security issues. The planning arm “lacks a champion in either chamber of Congress,” the report found.

Since the counterterrorism center was created in 2004, its planning arm has been largely focused on a comprehensive review to assign counterterrorism roles and responsibilities to each federal agency, producing then revising a document called the National Implementation Plan. But pointedly, the counterterrorism center does not direct any specific operations.

Since the completion of that longer-term project, the study’s authors found that the center’s 100-person planning arm had become more involved in immediate counterterrorism issues: working on various classified projects involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and threats to the United States at home.

The study called on Mr. Obama to issue an executive order to define the nation’s counterterrorism architecture in order to address some of the problems and improve coordination. It also recommended giving the center’s director, currently Michael E. Leiter, a say in the choice of counterterrorism officials at other federal agencies, a step the 9/11 Commission had recommended but was not adopted.

The report was directed by Robert S. Kravinsky, a Pentagon planner on assignment to the group, and James R. Locher III, a former Pentagon official and senior Congressional aide who is the group’s president.

Until they joined the administration, Gen. James L. Jones, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, and Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, were members of the group’s board of advisers, which now includes Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush.


FROM: Intelwire

The Dutch counterterrorism agency the NCTb, and the University of Leiden have released a volume of essays, focusing on how to more effectively counter al Qaeda's dangerous narrative. While al Qaeda's popularity has slipped over the past year, it remains a serious threat to the US and its allies. The organization has demonstrated that it can still plot potentially devastating attacks, as the Najibullah Zazi case illustrated, and it still is able to spread its destructive propaganda and message.

The complete Report is at: http://english.nctb.nl/Images/Countering%20Violent%20Extremist%20Narratives_tcm92-259489.pdf?cp=92&cs=25496

"As the United States continues to fight militarily to disrupt the efforts of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, the U.S. government has slowly come to the realisation that military force alone cannot defeat violent extremism. There has been increased recognition that capturing and killing all terrorists is not a realistic strategy, and that we must spend more time understanding how and why individuals are becoming terrorists."

Michael Jacobson's Report "Learning Counter-Narrative Lessons from Cases of Terrorist Dropouts" is at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/opedsPDFs/4b7aaf56ca52e.pdf


*** Conservative Senator Wallin - who has no expertise to speak on the matter (unlike Colin Kenny for example) - should help stop the government breastfeeding of the RCMP like it is a baby. It is our national police service - among the top in the world - and deserves effective oversight just like every other grown up federal agency. With a budget that exceeds the GDP of some countries, why the heck not?

The RCMP has a serious cultural problem that needs fixing and unless government steps up - they run the risk of losing/barring the kind of talent the country needs in doing what needs to be done. MS ***

FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/769951--mounties-in-need-of-major-overhaul-liberal-senators-say

OTTAWA–The federal government should boost RCMP ranks by 5,000 to 7,000, hire more women and visible minority officers, and impose stronger civilian oversight on the Mounties, says a report by a group of Liberal senators.

Although Parliament is prorogued, six Liberal senators broke with custom, and with their Conservative counterparts on the Senate's national security committee, and released a "position paper" Monday based on last year's hearings into change at the RCMP.

The report, entitled Toward a Red Serge Revival, calls for robust civilian oversight of national security investigations and other policing; mini-cameras on cruisers; and greater efforts to recruit women and minorities that would be tied to bonuses for senior officers. It also echoed the suggestion of current civilian chief, Commissioner William Elliott, that his successor should come from within RCMP ranks.

The Mounties insisted Monday via a press spokesman that the RCMP "aims" to reflect diversity, and has brought in a new independent investigations policy that "goes as far as the RCMP can" to enhance oversight and review until governments come up with new measures.

The Liberal report acknowledges "some progress" has been made in overhauling the national police force since lawyer David Brown described it as "horribly broken" more than two years ago. But the Liberal senators say it "falls short of what is needed."

They say the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the civilian watchdog that oversees CSIS, Canada's spy agency, should take over scrutiny of the RCMP's national security activities and those of the CSE, the secretive stand-alone electronic eavesdropping agency.

Other kinds of policing should face a tougher civilian review agency with the power to subpoena documents and witnesses, and with access to RCMP records, they said. The Liberals dismissed the RCMP's recently announced policy to try to farm out investigations into serious allegations of police wrongdoing to outside police or civilian agencies where possible as "smoke and mirrors."

Conservative Senator Pamela Wallin, to whom the government referred inquiries, blasted the Liberal paper, and accused Senator Colin Kenny, who has chaired the committee for several years, of "grandstanding" and pulling numbers "out of the air."

Wallin said: "The Conservative government put $400 million into hiring 1,500 new officers. He's way oversimplifying this stuff."

Wallin said the force is trying to hire more women and visible minorities, "but we actually live in a democracy, you can't be conscripted. ... It seems counterproductive to say there's some quota that has to be met and then that's proof the RCMP is modernizing."

Overall, Wallin said the report contributes nothing constructive to public debate about the RCMP, nor does it bring effective pressure to bear by ensuring the right kind of change happens. (MS: As opposed to the status quo courtesy of the Con's right?)


FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/769922--n-y-subway-bomb-plotter-was-ready-to-sacrifice-himself

NEW YORK–A former Denver airport shuttle driver admitted Monday to a plot to bomb the New York City subways, saying he was recruited by Al Qaeda in Pakistan for a "martyrdom plan" against the United States.

"I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the U.S. military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan," Najibullah Zazi, 25, told a federal judge in a Brooklyn courtroom.

The Afghan native pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization.

He faces life in prison without parole at a sentencing in June.

Zazi said he went to Pakistan in 2008 to join the Taliban and fight against the American military but was recruited by the terrorist network and went into a training camp.

He admitted building homemade explosives with beauty supplies purchased in the Denver suburbs and cooked up in a Colorado hotel room, then driving them to New York City just before the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Zazi told authorities he disposed of the explosives once arriving in New York.

He said the terrorism plot was aimed at the city subway system but wouldn't name a specific target when asked by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie.

Zazi was arrested Sept. 20, 2009, after arousing authorities' suspicions by his cross-country drive to New York around the anniversary of 9/11.

Authorities allege Zazi travelled twice to Canada in the months prior to his arrest. Zazi has family in Mississauga.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the jailed Zazi recently volunteered information about the bomb plot during a meeting with his attorney and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

One of the people familiar with the Zazi case said Zazi decided to offer the information after being warned that his mother could face criminal immigration charges.

One of the people familiar with the investigation said Zazi told prosecutors he made roughly two pounds of a powerful and highly unstable explosive called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP.

The same explosive was used by would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001 and the terrorists who carried out the London bombings in 2005 that killed 52 people.

Others charged in the terror case include Zazi's father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, who was accused this month of trying to get rid of chemicals and other evidence.

Monday, February 22, 2010


FROM: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Quebec+terror+conviction+appealed/2582963/story.html

MONTREAL - The life sentence handed out Wednesday to convicted terrorist Saïd Namouh is being appealed.

Lawyer René Duval said yesterday he plans in the next two weeks to seek leave to challenge the sentence as too severe. Duval alleges that Quebec Court Judge Claude Leblond was wrong in arguing that the crimes committed by by Namouh were comparable with those committed by Zakaria Amara, the main organizer of the so-called Toronto 18.

Amara, sentenced in January to life in prison, admitted to plotting massive bombs at the Toronto Stock Exchange. But Duval argues the cases are not comparable: The Toronto conspirators had purchased explosives and planned the attack in minute details, while Namouh’s conspiracy was “very vague, if at all existent.”


*** The #1 organization that should be policed more than any other - IS the police. Of all the police agencies that do have oversight (like TPS and the OPP through the SIU - as well as various internal mechanisms) the RCMP - while still commanding great respect for the most part - has proven to be ineffective and lacking credibility when it comes to investigating their own members.

Without a proper oversight body, the RCMP can effectively do what it likes without any real apprehension of sanction. This is the absolute antithesis of policing in an advanced, democratic state like Canada and should be repaired immediately for the sake of our national honour and for the sake of the credibility of the RCMP itself. It may be you dislike a thing but in fact, it is good for you. MS ***

FROM: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100222/national/rcmp_revival

OTTAWA - Liberal members of a disbanded Senate committee have taken the unusual step of publishing a position paper while the Commons is shut down, recommending sweeping changes to the RCMP.

The paper by Liberal members of the Senate security and defence committee says rebuilding the national police force "makes far more sense than trying to stuff more people in Canada's already overstuffed jails."

Entitled "Toward a Red Serge Revival," the paper says any reputable criminologist knows good crime prevention is far more effective than sending more people to prison for longer stretches.

The paper acknowledges there's an RCMP reform process underway but it warns that if that process doesn't work, Canadians are in for more horror stories about the decline of what it calls a national treasure.

The Senators say they believe RCMP transformation is endangered and that genuine reform is unlikely unless some key changes are made.

They're calling for better oversight of the RCMP, more women and minorities on the national force, more money to expand its membership, and strong leadership from within its ranks.

The full Senate committee examined RCMP transformation for a year but its members failed to agree on a report before Parliament was prorogued until March.

Senator Colin Kenny, the committee longtime chair, says the six Liberals believe RCMP reform is too important for the government to stall it any longer.

"The RCMP needs to get moving if the public trust is to be restored," said the committee. "We sincerely hope that this paper helps stimulate that process."

Saturday, February 20, 2010


*** I like this one better than its progenitor article. MS ***

In yesterday's National Post, Ottawa-area lawyer, scientist and professor Amir Attaran offered a thoughtful column lauding the success of Canada's criminal court system, backed by our able police forces, at detecting and arresting members of several Canadian terrorist groups, some of whom have now received lengthy prison terms. (Disclosure: Attaran and I have debated unrelated topics before, in a respectful and amicable fashion.) Attaran suggests in part that such successes prove that it is old fashioned police work that will defeat terror, and "those who operated outside the rules do not have a single guilty verdict to show for their troubles."

While Attaran offers worthy commentary, I posit that he misses the overall point. In a war on terrorism, victory cannot be measured in convictions alone.

Terrorism is special because it is not a crime conducted by individuals (alone or in groups) against other individuals. It is politically motivated violence intended to bring about some change in a government's policy, or simply to brutalize a population that holds beliefs that the attackers deem offensive, whether those beliefs reflect political ideology, economic theory or religious worship. Further complicating the matter is that in today's interconnected world, while the terrorist groups themselves may not be operating on behalf of any particular nation-state, their targets are often sovereign countries. I'd hate to be the NYPD officer driving a squad car through Taliban-controlled Kandahar keeping a watchful eye out for bin Laden and his boys, eager to make an arrest.

Attaran's arguments hold weight when dealing with home-grown domestic terrorists, who commit crimes before they ever have a chance to carry out their attacks. If diligent police work can catch them committing these lesser crimes and sentence them to long terms, like Attaran, I would celebrate this. But the good work of our police services and courts will be of little help preventing a terrorist cell outside our borders from striking us, nor would they be of any utility carrying out the bleaker but vitally necessary response to any terrorist attack — a crushing retaliatory response.

Further, Attaran's contention that the "more aggressive" counter-terror policies can be shown to be failures due to a failure to garner convictions ignores some entirely different ways of keeping score in the constant race against those who wish us harm. Success against terrorism can also be measured in the body counts of militants torn apart by our military power, and most important, in the lives of Canadians who might have perished in the absence of aggressive and assertive preemptive action against emerging terrorist threats. As many before me have pointed out, the fight against terrorism is hard to keep track of, since almost by default, the most successful operation by a government agency against a shadowy enemy will by design go unreported.

Once again, Attaran's championing of our long-standing legal principles is warranted, and the convictions he lauds are indeed worth celebrating as victories for the forces of civilization against those who seek our culture's downfall and replacement by a backwards-looking theocracy. But by establishing an arbitrary goalpost for victory and declaring his preferred option the victor by that measure, Attaran provides a perspective on the fight against terrorism akin to criticizing the Maple Leafs as an NHL franchise because they don't kick many field goals.

Effective policing, efficient courts and robust laws are an essential component in defeating terrorism at home. But powerful military forces operating under expansive rules of engagement, and well-funded intelligence agencies with wide-ranging mandates are just as important, if less palatable to many Canadians still pretending our former soft-power delusions still apply. Like Attaran, I cheer each time the courts hand out a lengthy sentence to a terrorist arrested by our clever Canadian police. But as a realist determined to see terrorism defeated by whatever means necessary, rather than those I find most palatable, I suggest that a jury, plus tanks, artillery, special forces units, spies and forceful diplomacy is a better response to terrorism than juries alone.

National Post

Matt Gurney is Assistant Editor, Comment, and a member of the National Post Editorial Board.

Friday, February 19, 2010


*** Let us not forget the fake letter he wrote trying to blame Muslims for it. It was the most serious bioweapon attack on American citizens and clearly a terrorist act because of that. MS ***

FROM: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100219/world/us_anthrax_investigation

WASHINGTON - After seven frustrating years probing the deadly 2001 anthrax mailings, the FBI closed the case Friday, concluding a mentally unhinged government researcher acted alone in the attacks that killed five people and unnerved Americans nationwide.

Many details of the case have been known, but newly released FBI documents paint a fuller portrait of Dr. Bruce Ivins as a troubled scientist whose career was teetering toward failure at the time the letters were sent. As the U.S. responded to the mailings, his work was given new importance by the government and he was even honoured for his efforts on anthrax.

The documents also describe what investigators say was Ivins' bizarre, decades-long obsession with a sorority. The letters were mailed from a mailbox near the sorority's office in Princeton, New Jersey.

The anthrax letters were sent to lawmakers and news organizations as the U.S.Ination reeled in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in which hijacked airliners were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in suburban Washington. Postal facilities, Capitol buildings and private offices were shut down for inspection and cleaning by workers in hazardous materials "space suits" from Florida to Washington to New York and beyond.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department announced the decision closing the case while disclosing reams of evidence collected in the case. Officials also released a nearly 100-page summary of their findings.

The document said Ivins made comments to a former colleague that showed "immediately prior to the anthrax letter attacks, his life's work was in jeopardy."

Ivins killed himself in 2008 as prosecutors prepared to indict him for the attacks. He had denied involvement, and his family and some friends have continued to insist he was innocent.

Authorities say Ivins' death capped a years-long cat-and-mouse game with investigators, in which he repeatedly offered to help the FBI catch the killer, cast suspicion on his colleagues and tried numerous forms of subterfuge.

Authorities tried to build a case against biowarfare expert Steven Hatfill, but ultimately turned away from that and had to pay him a multimillion-dollar settlement.

After the attacks, the FBI relied heavily on Ivins' help, according to the documents, and the scientist offered agents his notebooks, his office, and his email.

He passed a polygraph in connection with the investigation in 2002, but investigators learned years later that he had been prescribed psychotropic medications at the time. Examiners who reassessed the results concluded that Ivins exhibited classic signs of the use of countermeasures to pass a polygraph.

The new documents also present a novel theory why the anthrax notes featured block writing that highlighted specific letters within words.

Investigators believe Ivins' use of the letters was part of a secret code that had two possible meanings: pointing to a colleague, or stating a specific dislike of New York. Two of the letters were sent to New York - one to The New York Post, and another to NBC television's then-anchor Tom Brokaw.

The anthrax case was one of the most vexing and costly investigations in U.S. history. Officials announced in 2008 that the lone suspect was Ivins. The move Friday seals that preliminary investigative conclusion.

Laced with anthrax, the letters were sent with childish, blocky handwriting and chilling scientific expertise.

The spores killed five people: Two postal workers in Washington, a New York City hospital worker, a Florida photo editor and a 94-year-old Connecticut woman who had no known contact with any of the poisoned letters. Seventeen other people were sickened.

For years, the FBI chased leads but filed no charges.

In 2008, the agency announced that the mystery had been solved but the suspect was dead.

Authorities said that in the days before the mailings, Ivins had logged unusual hours alone in his lab at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. They also said he threw investigators off his trail by supplying false leads as he ostensibly tried to help them find the killer.

As the FBI closed in on Ivins, the 62-year-old microbiologist took a fatal overdose of Tylenol, dying on July 29, 2008. After Ivins' suicide, FBI Director Robert Mueller said the investigation found he was the culprit, and prosecutors said they were confident he acted alone.

Skeptics - including prominent lawmakers - pointed to the bureau's long, misguided pursuit of Hatfill, and noted there was no evidence suggesting Ivins was ever in New Jersey when the letters were mailed there.

At the urging of lawmakers, the National Academy of Sciences has launched a formal review of the FBI's scientific methods in tracing the particular strain of anthrax used in the mailings to samples Ivins had at his Fort Detrick lab.


Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report.


*** Elite police tactical units are on their way over by helicopter gunships to take the SCC into custody. Reports of taser use has not yet been verified but eyewitness accounts state the at least two Supreme Court justices were brandishing staplers and paper clips. The mayor of Ottawa is thinking of calling in the Army to assist, while lawyers nearby staged a street protest in the downtown core, demanding the resignation of anyone who wears a white wig and sits on wooden chairs. :S MS ***

FROM: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/02/19/publication-ban-supreme-court-toronto.html

Even the Supreme Court of Canada can run afoul of the law sometimes.

The country's top court appears to have inadvertently violated a publication ban imposed by the Ontario Superior Court judge presiding over the trial of members of the so-called Toronto 18.

The sweeping publication ban bars the media from identifying four remaining members of the group who have yet to go to trial. It also bars the media from naming the judge who will preside over the trial, at least until the jury is selected. Jury selection is scheduled to begin March 22.

However, in a Brampton, Ont., courtroom Friday, the chief prosecutor in the Toronto 18 case, Croft Michaelson, told the judge that earlier this month the Supreme Court of Canada posted a document on its website that contained information covered by his ban.

The document in question was prepared by Ontario crown prosecutors in advance of a constitutional challenge arising out of the Toronto 18 case. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case before the Toronto 18 case begins.

The document has been removed from the top court's website, but is believed to have named all the remaining defendants.

Michaelson also told the judge that Quebec Superior Court appears to have violated the ban as well.

On Wednesday, Judge Claude LeBlond sentenced Morrocan-born Said Namouh to life in prison on terrorism charges. Namouh was a member of an al-Qaeda-connected media group called the Global Islamic Media Front.

In his judgment, LeBlond instructed the media not to report on paragraphs 47 through 60 of his judgment because the information was covered by the Toronto 18 ban.

According to Michaelson, other parts of the same judgment also violated the Toronto 18 publication ban. The judgment was later posted on the Quebec Superior Court website, but the offending paragraphs have since been removed.


FROM: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2010/02/19/amir-attaran-terrorism-isn-t-special.aspx

It’s been a bad week to be a terrorist in Canada. In Quebec, a judge sent Said Namouh to prison for preparing terrorism propaganda and plotting a bombing in Vienna. In Ontario, a judge ruled that Shareef Abdelhaleem, one of the “Toronto 18” found guilty of plotting to bomb prominent buildings in that city, would not escape sentencing just because a police informant egged on his terrorist intentions by offering bomb-making materials.

Namouh was sentenced to life in prison. Abdelhaleem’s sentencing date is being chosen today. Both deserve prison, for a long time.

There is something poignant in these outcomes. Canadians have been sold a bill of goods by spies, shadowy diplomats and pundits, warning that modern-day terrorism changes the rules of the game. Their pitch goes something like this: Terrorism is not like other crimes but is sui generis. Terrorists are monsters. Less personal privacy and more government secrecy will keep us safe. Sometimes torture is OK. Those who criticize are not patriotic.

Most dangerous of all: Terrorists don’t follow rules, so we can’t follow rules either.

How incredibly wrong all this now looks. In getting guilty verdicts against would-be terrorists, the police and prosecutors who pursued Namouh and Abdelhaleem prove that our criminal law rules are better than they are given credit for. Meanwhile, those who operated outside the rules do not have a single guilty verdict to show for their troubles.

Let’s begin with what the Canadian authorities did not do to nab Namouh and Abdelhaleem. They did not listen to their phone calls illegally. They did not detain them without trial. They did not obstruct them from communicating with a lawyer. They did not interrogate them illegally. They did not work hand-in-glove with torturers.

Actually, the police were extremely careful not to do any of these things, lest it spoil their chances to convict and put away their suspects. Instead, they counted on good, old fashioned detective work, such as following leads or paying informants to rat out the criminals. Their wise choice of tactics succeeded in convicting Namouh and Abdelhaleem, but also nabbed Zakaria Amara, the Toronto 18 ringleader, Ali Mohamed Dirie, a gunrunner, and Momin Khawaja, a bomb builder, among others.

In all those cases police played by the rules, and thanks to them, all these would-be terrorists are in prison. They do not threaten us any longer.

Now, compare the police’s enviable successes, against the appalling record of those amateurs who disobeyed the rules. More than anyone else in Canada, the spies of CSIS and the diplomats of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) trashed the rules. They arranged illegal detentions, collaborated with torturers, spied on lawyers, lied to judges and did other nefarious things.

The result? Not a single conviction.

Just look at the cases of Abousfian Abdelrazik, Abdullah Almalki, Hassan Almrei, Maher Arar, Adil Charkaoui, Ahmad El-Maati, Omar Khadr, Mohammad Mahjoub and Muayyed Nureddin. Not only did the authorities fail to convict any of these men, for any crime whatsoever, let alone terrorism, but they violated their human rights viciously. Those men are walking free today (excepting Khadr, who is in his eighth year of imprisonment awaiting trial), as is entirely correct under the legal presumption of innocence. All the amateurs managed to achieve was to traumatize these men, and ensure that Canadians will have to compensate them many millions of dollars in court-ordered judgments or settlements.

Some may find it surprising that the by-the-book approach of the police has so thoroughly outperformed the more aggressive approach of the spies and diplomats. But there is no reason for surprise. Canada’s criminal justice rules are the fruit of hundreds of years of evolution and refinement in the common law. To be sure the rules are not perfect, but they are time-tested, and therefore reliable anti-terrorism tools. How arrogant and ignorant of CSIS and DFAIT to imagine that they could do better by ignoring that accumulated wisdom, and how shameful that Canada’s courts were sometimes gulled into letting them do so.

The spooks’ and diplomats’ failure — not partial failure, but truly cataclysmic, total failure — to instigate even a single terrorist’s conviction is resounding. They remain amateurs still, and one searches in vain for evidence that failure has taught them how better to discern real from imagined threats. Just look at CSIS’s self-parodying court battle to censor the national archives’ files on, of all people, Tommy Douglas.

It is time to dispel the enchanting and dangerous myth that terrorism is special. Better results are achieved by recognizing that terrorists are just criminals, to be prosecuted under criminal law rules. Much of the cash poured into CSIS and DFAIT for anti-terrorism should be taken away, and given to Canada’s more deserving police forces. Politicians, such as our Prime Minister, who savage opponents for being “soft on terrorism” if they refuse to discard long legal traditions, should be dismissed as dangerous ideologues whose preferences actually make terrorism more likely. For the evidence is strikingly clear that those who break or distort the law never succeed in achieving terrorism convictions, while those who engage in stodgy police and trial work put terrorists behind bars. So who’s being soft on terrorism now?

(MS: Only thing is, CSIS' mandate is not to collect evidence rather, information - which is then passed on to the government. The Toronto 18 case began with efforts by CSIS let us not forget. Only afterwards did the RCMP get involved because their mandate is to collect evidence for public prosecution in open court.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/767490--pilot-left-anti-government-note-before-crashing-plane

AUSTIN, TEXAS—A pilot furious with the Internal Revenue Service crashed his small plane into an office building that houses federal tax employees here on Thursday, setting off a raging fire.

A U.S. law official identified the pilot as Joseph Stack and said investigators were looking at an anti-government message on the Web linked to him. The Web site outlines problems with the IRS and says violence “is the only answer.”

Federal law enforcement officials have said they were investigating whether the pilot crashed on purpose in an effort to blow up IRS offices.

The Web site featured a long note dated Thursday denouncing the government and the IRS in particular and cited the Austin man’s problems with the agency.

All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

At least one person who worked in the building was unaccounted for and two people were hospitalized, said Austin Fire Department Division Chief Dawn Clopton. She did not have any information about the pilot.

About 190 IRS employees work in the building, and IRS spokesman Richard C. Sanford the agency is trying to account for all employees.

Flames shot out of the building, windows exploded and workers scrambled to safety after the blast. Thick smoke billowed out of the second and third stories hours later as fire crews battled the blaze.

“It felt like a bomb blew off,” said Peggy Walker, an IRS revenue officer who was sitting at her desk in the building when the plane crashed. “The ceiling caved in and windows blew in. We got up and ran.”

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford initially said the plane was identified as a Cirrus SR22, but later said it might be a Piper Cherokee.

“It’s so destroyed that it’s hard to identify,” Lunsford said.

He said FAA has confirmed that the plane that took off from an airport in Georgetown, Texas, and that the pilot didn’t file a flight plan.

In a neighbourhood about 10 kilometres from the crash site, a home listed as belonging to Stack was on fire earlier Thursday. Authorities in Austin would not comment on the house fire Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


FROM: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/article/766501--victory-for-crown-and-moles

Federal prosecutors have scored their biggest win to date in the so-called Toronto 18 terror case. On Tuesday, a Brampton judge ruled that an RCMP mole paid $4 million for his part in unravelling a plot to blow up buildings in downtown Toronto was not an agent provocateur.

With that ruling, 34-year-old Shareef Abdelhaleem, who had already been found guilty of taking part in the bomb plot, was formally convicted of terrorism.

The question of the role played by police moles has hung over this affair since June 2006, when 18 Muslim Canadian men and boys were swept up and charged under Canada's new anti-terror laws.

At the time, there was considerable suspicion, particularly within parts of the Muslim community, that RCMP mole and former Air Canada flight attendant Shaher Elsohemy had induced some of the accused into committing criminal acts they otherwise would not have contemplated.

These suspicions were fuelled by the fact that the Mounties agreed to pay Elsohemy and some members of his family up to $4 million so they could relocate under the witness protection program.

As the judge noted Tuesday at the end of a three-week hearing into whether Abdelhaleem had indeed been entrapped by police, the mole originally asked for $15 million.

All of this was going on in 2006, at a time when some in the U.S. were accusing Canada of being soft on terrorists. It was also a time when the threat of stricter border controls threatened to derail a Canadian economy dependent on trading goods back and forth across the international frontier.

In that context, the high-profile arrests of the 18 seemed unusually convenient.

Over time, the case swung back and forth. When the Crown abruptly cancelled a preliminary hearing and, in effect, dropped all charges against seven of the 18, the case appeared to wobble.

It recovered somewhat when, in the only other trial to date, a judge found one young man guilty of terrorism. But that finding was mitigated when the trial judge immediately released the man, saying his time in pre-trial custody was sufficient.

Last year, the government's credibility received a major boost when three of the four charged in the Toronto bomb plot pleaded guilty.

That left it to Abdelhaleem, the fourth accused bomb plotter, to take on the mole at trial.

As the judge said Tuesday in his 42-page ruling, the defendant did not do very well.

In testimony marked by confusion, Abdelhaleem argued that he had inserted himself into the plot partly to protect his old friend Elsohemy and partly so he could sabotage the scheme it if it went too far.

The judge said he found those arguments "nonsensical ... inconsistent with common sense ... without the force of any real logic."

Curiously, Abdelhaleem – who took over his own defence at one point – never tried to argue during his testimony that the mole had entrapped him, which was the point of the entire hearing.

That failure, as well as his rambling style on the stand (the judge called him "the antithesis of an impressive witness") virtually guaranteed a victory for the Crown.

Which is what occurred Tuesday. Federal prosecutors were so pleased that they broke their self-imposed silence to talk to the media.

"The public should be very happy about what happened today," lead prosecutor Croft Michaelson told reporters outside the Brampton courthouse. "Truth and justice won out."


FROM: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/montreal/story/2010/02/17/quebec-said-namouh-sentenced-to-life-for-terrorist-plot.html?ref=rss

Said Namouh has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years for his role in an international terror plot that threatened European countries involved in military operations in Afghanistan.

The Moroccan-born Quebec resident was convicted on four terrorism-related charges last October, including conspiracy to detonate an explosive device, participating in a terrorist act, facilitating such an act and committing extortion for a terrorist group.

Namouh was sentenced Wednesday morning at a Montreal federal courthouse.

The 37-year-old was involved with the Global Islamic Media Front, a group considered to be a communications tool for al-Qaeda.

Anti-terrorist experts told the court that the group recruited people for jihad and spread propaganda on the internet.

Evidence presented during his trial showed that Namouh prepared propaganda videos and spent an inordinate amount of time on jihad forums.

Quebec court judge Claude Leblond said Namouh remains dangerous and remorseless.

He will be eligible for parole in 2017 because of time served in custody.

RCMP arrested Namouh in 2007 in Maskinongé, Que. where he was living with his Québécoise wife.

He moved to Canada in 2003, from Morocco.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


FROM: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5i_nM1GY1NWXggMbz7Z02_j1BmTyg

BRAMPTON, Ont. — There is "virtually no evidence" to support a Toronto 18 member's claim he was entrapped by police, a judge ruled Tuesday in dismissing what he called the confusing and illogical testimony of Shareef Abdelhaleem.

Abdelhaleem's erratic demeanour on the stand was highly unusual, the judge said, calling the now convicted terrorist the "antithesis" of a good witness.

"He often launched into lengthy, rambling answers and raised his voice in an apparent attempt to convince all those listening to his evidence of the sincerity of his position," the judge said.

"At other times he mumbled and his voice would trail off into the barely audible range as if he was consumed by his inner thoughts and did not wish to share them at the moment."

Abdelhaleem's ramblings were "almost impossible" to follow in court, the judge said. Even when he reviewed the transcripts later Abdelhaleem's testimony was difficult to decipher and was not "logically persuasive," the judge added.

Abdelhaleem, 34, was found guilty last month of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion. No conviction was entered at the time because his defence brought a motion seeking a stay on the basis of entrapment.

The judge ruled that Abdelhaleem's evidence fell far short of the test for entrapment - that police created a crime that otherwise wouldn't have occurred or that they induced the commission of a crime. Abdelhaleem acted as a "co-ordinator" in a bomb plot that would have caused death and destruction "so substantial that it is difficult to comprehend," the judge said.

"Nothing occurred which would induce an average person in the position of the accused, with strengths and weaknesses, to commit a crime as serious as this one."

Abdelhaleem's lawyer, William Naylor, said outside court that he thought his client's bizarre, confusing and often heated testimony "certainly" affected the judge's decision. However, Naylor added he thought his client did well on the stand, given the circumstances.

"He was in jail for 3 1/2 years before he got to speak to anybody in the public... so you don't have a lot of the social graces after 3 1/2 years in administrative detention," he said.

"My client's an emotional type. He bursts out. He just displays his emotions on his sleeve."

The prosecution said the public should be "very happy at what happened today."

"We always knew if we were patient, if we pursued the case, that truth and justice at the end of the day would win out," said Crown attorney Croft Michaelson.

Naylor had argued his client was "dragged in" to the Toronto 18 bomb plot by a former friend seeking revenge through his work as a police agent. Shaher Elsohemy was the only witness in the first portion of the trial.

The judge found that despite a rocky friendship with tensions between their two families, nothing Elsohemy did directed Abdelhaleem - who the judge called "quite cunning and deceitful" - toward criminal activity.

Much has been made of the approximately $4-million package RCMP offered Elsohemy to work as an agent and put him and his family in the witness protection program, but the judge noted Elsohemy had already provided valuable information willingly before that money was discussed.

The Crown contended Abdelhaleem was a willing and active participant in the plot to detonate massive bombs at the Toronto offices of CSIS, the Toronto Stock Exchange and an Ontario military base.

Abdelhaleem and 17 others who would come to be known as the Toronto 18 were arrested in the summer of 2006 and charged with terrorism offences. Several people, including Abdelhaleem, were charged in a plot to bomb military, intelligence and financial targets.

Abdelhaleem maintained he was an "outsider" in the plot who was just delivering messages back and forth between ringleader Zakaria Amara and Elsohemy, but that he tried to stay involved so he could create opportunities for sabotage.

Amara was sentenced to life last month.

Abdelhaleem alternatively argued that he inserted himself into the plot as a middle man so his friend Elsohemy wouldn't be seen associating alone with Amara, who they knew was under surveillance. The judge dismissed both contentions, saying the latter "amounts to a loud protest without the force of any real logic."

"The accused's position that he was only involved for the purpose of protecting his friend Mr. Elsohemy is nonsensical in the context of all of the evidence," the judge said.

"The evidence contains many instances where the accused took the initiative to advance the bomb plot."

The case returns to court on Friday to set a date for sentencing submissions.


*** Mischief? Terrorism uses fear and threats of violence and death. Calling in a false bomb threat, which not only forces the evacuation of a building but scares the crap outta people is certainly not simple mischief - it is terrorism. MS ***

FROM: http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2010/02/16/12899226-qmi.html

TORONTO -- A Kitchener, Ont., man faces mischief charges after police say a disgruntled employee who had recently been fired from his job called in a bomb threat.

A man first called Waterloo police Friday night to say he had placed six pipe bombs in the building of his former employer, Polycon Industries in Guelph.

In a second call to Guelph police, the man said the bombs were going to go off at 10 p.m. and then hung up the phone.

Guelph police evacuated the auto parts manufacturer's building and searched the premises, but didn't locate any bombs.

Police searched the area where the second call was made and arrested a man.

Walter Haydl, 51, of Kitchener was charged with mischief.


*** Vindication is yours and rightfully so (formerly-known-as-Shaher), rightfully so. _\ MS ***

FROM: http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5i_nM1GY1NWXggMbz7Z02_j1BmTyg

BRAMPTON, Ont. — A judge has ruled that a man found guilty of terror offences as part of the so-called Toronto 18 was not entrapped.

Shareef Abdelhaleem, 34, was found guilty last month of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion. No conviction was entered at the time because his defence brought a motion seeking a stay on the basis of entrapment.

Today, a judge told a Brampton, Ont., court that entrapment was not an issue in the case and there was virtually no evidence to support Abdelhaleem's position.

The judge, in entering the conviction, also described Abdelhaleem's testimony as rambling and nonsensical.

Abdelhaleem's lawyer had argued his client was "dragged in" to the Toronto 18 bomb plot by a former friend seeking revenge through his work as a police agent.

The Crown contended Abdelhaleem was a willing and active participant in the plot to detonate massive bombs at the Toronto offices of CSIS, the Toronto Stock Exchange and an Ontario military base.

For the motion to have succeeded the defence had to prove that police created a crime that otherwise wouldn't have occurred or that they induced the commission of a crime.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


*** Extremism only breeds more extreme versions of the same. Secondly, at the end of the day, these so-called Muslims calling themselves Salafi-Jihadi's are responsible for killing more Muslims than anyone else. All in the Name of Allah. Could there be a greater perversion? I think not. MS ***

FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/765573--ultra-radicals-rattle-hamas

RAFAH, GAZA STRIP–They preach global jihad, or holy war, adhere to an ultraconservative form of Islam and are becoming a headache even for Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

Jihadi Salafis, as they are known, have organized into small, armed groups that have clashed with Hamas and fired rockets at Israel in defiance of Hamas' informal truce.

Perhaps even more worrisome for Hamas, they claim a growing appeal among Gazans in the territory's pressure cooker of isolation and poverty, raising fears they could serve as a bridgehead for their ideological twin, Al Qaeda.

Hamas insists it dismantled the groups after a mosque shootout last summer that left 26 dead. But Jihadi Salafis have been firing rockets at Israel and blew up the car of a Hamas chief. He was not inside it.

"We will not stop targeting the figures of this perverted, crooked government (Hamas), breaking their bones and cleansing the pure land of the Gaza Strip of these abominations," said the group, the Soldiers of the Monotheism Brigades. "What will come next will be harder and more horrible."

Going by names like "Rolling Thunder" and "Army of God," they oppose Hamas for refraining from imposing Islamic law since seizing power in Gaza in 2007 and largely sticking to a tactical truce with Israel since the latter's devastating offensive last year.

Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, acknowledges some in Gaza have been swept up by Jihadi Salafi ideologies.

"If this is a phenomenon among some young men in Gaza, they will be treated with discussions and meetings," said Haniyeh in a sermon to mosque worshippers. However, he rejected any suggestion of an Al Qaeda presence in Gaza and repudiated the call to global jihad.

Still, Hamas may inadvertently have helped create a climate for Salafi growth with its own gradual push to make Gaza more Islamic, including a "virtue campaign" that urges women to cover up, but stopping short of a Taliban-style assault on secularism.

The Salafi movement has grown across the Middle East, preaching an ultraconservative Islam that strictly segregating the sexes and interpreting religious texts literally.

Salafis tend to be non-political, but a minority jihadist stream embraces the Al Qaeda call for holy war against the West and the moderate Arab leaders in its camp.

Hamas, on the other hand, confines itself to pushing for a Palestinian state, says the sole target of its suicide bombings and missile attacks is Israel, and makes compromises with other movements, even participating in Palestinian elections in 2006. Those stances are reviled as un-Islamic by the Salafis.

Their groups began to emerge in Gaza after Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. A study co-authored by a former deputy chief of Israel's Shin Bet security service estimates their membership in the low hundreds, including disgruntled followers of established Palestinian militant groups.

The violent Salafi groups are inspired by Al Qaeda but are not formally affiliated with it, according to a January study by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a U.S. think tank, co-authored by Yoram Cohen, the former Shin Bet official.

It said Al Qaeda has not established an affiliate in the region nor accepted any of its "locally radicalized, globally inclined jihadists."

The U.S. think tank estimates 30 to 50 fighters from Yemen, Egypt, France and elsewhere have slipped into Gaza, either to train Salafi fighters or to wage holy war.


*** You cannot forcibly suppress intense religious and nationalist desires and hope they will simply go away. They have a nasty habit of coming back again with an even higher level of violence. With rampant corruption and looting, what is the solution? You can only build them walls so high. MS ***

ISLAMABAD–When many Pakistanis discuss their country's tumult, they do so with a furrowed brow or a grimace.

Not Maulana Abdul Aziz.

A radical and charismatic Islamist leader who was a central figure in a bloody showdown between security forces and religious conservatives three years ago, Aziz now says he's confident Pakistan is indeed on the road toward becoming a "true Islamic state." He says Pakistan is on its way to adopting strict sharia law – forcing the women of this country of 170 million to begin observing purdah, or being removed from public life.

Aziz is among Pakistan's most controversial personalities and has preached in front of massive crowds, encouraging suicide bombings and repeatedly promising the country is on the verge of "an Islamic revolution" and that "the blood of martyrs will bear fruit."

In July 2007, Aziz and his supporters brought this nation's capital to a standstill when they barricaded themselves inside Islamabad's Red Mosque for more than a week as thousands of supporters rallied outside.

Eventually, police stormed the mosque, formally known as Lal Masjid, and 102 people were killed, including Aziz's brother and son.

Aziz himself was captured when he tried to escape. He fled the mosque wearing a burqa, the head-to-toe veil worn by female students at his conservative seminary.

Sitting in his small home office in central Islamabad, surrounded by eight of his followers and a machine-gun toting security guard, the 60-year-old Aziz spoke with the Star at length about Pakistan's deteriorating security situation, Canada's planned withdrawal from Afghanistan and his embarrassment over being caught fleeing the mosque while wearing a burqa.

"Our friends talked to us and said one of us had to get out at any cost," Aziz says, referring to himself and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

"I just took it as an order and followed what I was supposed to do. Maybe I was embarrassed (about wearing the burqa), but maybe this is what God had planned for me. I didn't want to go out, I wanted to be martyred. My son was inside. Why would anyone want to go?"

Sharia law in Pakistan "is coming very soon," Aziz assures. "Our country is in a very precarious state. There is no peace and looting, mugging, murder and kidnapping are increasing."

Indeed, the streets of the capital are blanketed with police checkpoints, blast walls and barbed wire, and people are tense.

At a coffee shop in an affluent section of Islamabad, several teenagers gather for hot chocolate and sandwiches.

"Our friends are too afraid to come out of their houses," one says.

A few days later, several dozen young professionals gather at a rooftop house party for a barbecue that features an open bar serving whisky and vodka. Debate at one point turns to whether someone remains conscious for a few final seconds after they are beheaded.

At one point, someone close to the house fires a dozen or so rounds from a machine gun into the air. It's a neighbour upset over the loud music, the host explains, turning down the volume of a Black Eyed Peas song.

"Maybe Aziz is right," one guest remarks.

In some Pakistani circles, the debate isn't over what Aziz says, but that he's allowed to say anything publicly at all.

Several security analysts say they are baffled at the release on bail of Aziz, who travels freely between the Lal Masjid and his home a few blocks away.

"He's a living martyr," says Ahmed Rashid, a leading Pakistani terrorism analyst and author of Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia. "Aziz is a great risk and a symbol of extremism."

Aziz says he now faces 27 criminal charges of inciting violence against the state and is awaiting trial.

"There were many benefits," Aziz now recalls of the siege.

"If we struggled for 1,000 years we wouldn't have achieved the same progress as we did through this one incident."


FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/766018--federal-prosecutors-to-appeal-toronto-18-sentencing

Federal prosecutors announced Monday that they are appealing the 12-year prison sentence of Saad Gaya, one of the so-called “Toronto 18” members accused of plotting terrorist bombing attacks in 2006.

Gaya, a 22-year-old Oakville man, pleaded guilty in September to participating in a terrorist group that planned on bombing significant Toronto landmarks and a military base off Highway 401.

On Jan. 18, Superior Court of Justice Bruce Durno sentenced him to 12 years in prison but credited him for the 7 ½ years he served in presentencing custody. This means Gaya will ultimately serve an additional 4 ½ years in jail and may be eligible for parole in just over a year from now.

Crown prosecutors sought a harsher sentence for Gaya and on Monday, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada announced it is appealing to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

According to the court filing, prosecutors are alleging Gaya’s sentence was “not proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the culpability of the offender,” and that Durno “erred in principle” by not ordering Gaya to serve at least half of his sentence before becoming eligible for full parole.

The notice also alleges Durno was wrong to conclude that a statement Gaya gave to police after his arrest amounted to cooperation that could mitigate his sentence.

The Crown also contends the judge “unduly emphasized” the principles of rehabilitation and specific deterrence.

When reached Monday, Gaya’s lawyer Paul Slansky said the sentence was “well within the range of appropriate sentences” and criticized the appeal as lacking “merit.”

“It was a well-reasoned decision,” he said of Gaya’s sentence. “Certainly, there’s no legitimate basis for the grounds of appeal as far as I’m concerned.”

Slansky said he’s been in contact with Gaya’s family, who “obviously” did not agree with the appeal.

He refused to speculate as to why prosecutors were pursuing the appeal but said he had a few hunches.

“You may want to consider, however, that there are other people who are still charged, still potentially to be found guilty,” Slansky said. “(The prosecutors) may want to take a position with respect to sentencing because it may impact others yet to be found guilty or sentenced.”

Gaya was being held at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, but Slansky said he believes he has recently been moved to a penitentiary.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


FROM: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100214/national/border_intelligence_gap

OTTAWA - Canada's border agency has been waving through travellers at entry points even though it has information some may be working for organized crime, an internal report suggests.

The agency, which gets its intelligence from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, is doing so because it is worried about court challenges that may force it to reveal secret sources.

This so-called "front-end intelligence information gap" affects thousands of travellers enrolled in programs that allow them to skip long queues by flashing a card giving quick entry into Canada.

The Nexus and FAST cards were designed to speed passage of low-risk, pre-approved business people and truckers, allowing border guards to focus on higher risk travellers and goods.

But some of Canada's border guards have been skeptical of the cards, fearing they've become a "licence to smuggle." The guards have caught too many card-holders trying to smuggle goods into Canada, in one instance a man hauling a $186,000 boat.

And internal documents from the Canada Border Service Agency suggest there's good reason for the guards' skepticism: the agency is required to ignore adverse intelligence if an applicant otherwise passes muster.

"CBSA Legal Services recommended against the denial of applicants based on intelligence information if they are otherwise eligible for membership," says a memo.

"Legal Services further noted that should an applicant seek judicial review, the CBSA - not the source of the intelligence, CSIS - would be responsible for responding to the Federal Court on the issue.

"As such, the CBSA does not use intelligence information in the screening process for membership and as such, the possibility exists that persons who are assessed above low-risk based on intelligence information will be granted membership."

Records outlining the problem were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

The documents note that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, which also issues Nexus and FAST cards, has no qualms about using intelligence information alone to deny membership.

The different policy in Canada suggests departments have become spooked by the Canadian judicial system, where courts have recently pressed CSIS and others to divulge information that security agencies consider highly secret and damaging if made public.

The CBSA has compiled intelligence on hundreds of members of the two card programs, the material indicates.

"Intelligence is not fact," says one briefing note in justifying the membership policy. "It is based on opinion, conjecture and supposition."

CBSA came under fire from the auditor general of Canada in 2007 for sloppy security in its pre-approved traveller programs. Among Sheila Fraser's concerns was that the agency issued the five-year cards but then did little followup monitoring of the card-holders, especially those deemed slightly higher risk.

The U.S. customs agency runs automated checks every 24 hours on its card-holders, looking for criminal convictions and other violations. But in Canada, there weren't even annual checks.

In response, the agency last March beefed up its monitoring of Nexus and FAST members and will review the effectiveness of the new measures next month. Among the measures is a regular review of any intelligence information that becomes available, as well as so-called annual "re-risking" to ensure card-holders remain eligible for the program.

A spokeswoman for CBSA stressed that the card programs already have stringent rules.

"It is important to note that the Nexus and FAST programs utilize strict eligibility standards," Patrizia Giolti said in an email.

"Applicants to these programs must not have a serious criminal conviction in any country for which a pardon has not been granted or, have been found in violation of legislation administered by the CBSA.

"Membership in Nexus or FAST may be denied or cancelled if a determination is made that an applicant or member does not meet the eligibility criteria either at enrolment or during the period of membership."

Nexus cards, introduced in 2000, now are carried by more than 172,000 Canadian travellers for use at land border stations, international airports and ferry terminals. Another 65,000 Canadian commercial drivers use FAST cards.

Friday, February 12, 2010


*** Have these groups even asked themselves what they would do for the country's income? Or is rampant poverty and absence of basic services the way forward? Empty, this thinking is empty. MS ***


Jihad and Islamism in the Maldive Islands

By: Animesh Roul

Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed admitted in October, 2009 that hundreds of Maldivian Muslims had been recruited by Pakistan-based terrorist groups and are presently fighting against government forces in Pakistan. [1] The revelation by Nasheed was substantiated by video footage circulated by al-Qaeda’s media wing in November 2009, which not only proved Maldivians’ participation in the global jihad movement, but also demonstrated the impact of radical Islam on the psyche of Maldivian youth. Ali Jaleel (a.k.a. Musab Sayyid), a Maldivian national who had been fighting alongside pro-Taliban forces in Pakistan, was featured in that video. [2] Ali Jaleel died during the suicide attack on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters in Lahore on May 27, 2009 (Haeveeru Online, November 8, 2009).

Soon after, another video aimed at jihadi recruitment featured a previously unknown al-Qaeda cell operating in the Maldives. The short video flashed the message, "Your brothers in the Maldives are calling you." This brief internet footage was perhaps a declaration of sorts for the establishment of the first al-Qaeda cell in the Maldives. The image in the video shows three men sitting together on a beach while another man is standing in the foreground near a coconut tree (Adnkronos International, November 20, 2009). Later it was confirmed that the video teaser was posted by the media wing of the lesser-known Ansar al-Mujahideen. [3]

In an earlier incident, Maldivian national Ibrahim Fauzee was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, in May 2002 while living in a suspected al-Qaeda safe house. Fauzee, an Islamic cleric, was held in extrajudicial detention in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp until his release and repatriation to the Maldives in March 2005 (al-Jazeera, October 7, 2009). These and other incidents have sparked concerns about the spread of radical Islam in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

A Paradise for Radicalism

The Maldives, a Sunni Muslim majority island nation, is sometimes described as a paradise for Islamic radicalism. The country witnessed a terrorist strike for the first time in September, 2007, when a bomb explosion in the capital Male wounded 12 foreigners, including British, Japanese and Chinese tourists (The Guardian, September 30, 2007). The blast in Sultan Park was targeted at the thriving tourism industry, which is by and large the economic lifeline of the Maldives. Despite the economic benefits, many radical Islamic groups active in the Maldives have denounced tourism’s influence on the local Islamic culture.

Following the Sultan Park bombing, security agencies rounded up over 50 suspects, including a couple of Bangladeshi nationals. Many more fled to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Two suspects wanted in the investigation, Abdul Latheef Ibrahim and Ali Shameem, had left the Maldives prior to the blast incident with the help of a sympathetic immigration official. Both suspects are believed to have traveled to Karachi via Sri Lanka.

Three terrorists in their early 20s, Mohamed Sobah, Moosa Inaz, and Ahmed Naseer, were sentenced to 15 years in jail in connection with the Sultan Park bombing after confessing to their role in the attack during the trial. [4] They have reportedly admitted their goal was to "target, attack and injure non-Muslims to fulfill jihad."

The bombing prompted the authorities to crack down on extremist elements holed up in the illegal Dhar-ul-Khair mosque on Himendu (or Himandhoo) Island in October 2007. The situation spiraled into a violent confrontation between the members of Dhar-ul-Khair mosque and security forces when the latter attempted to carry out a search and sweep operation. The Maldivian police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) successfully put down the radical rising and ended the hostage crisis in Dhar-ul-Khair in a scenario similar to the Lal Masjid standoff in Islamabad in July, 2007. Sixteen people were sentenced for the violent confrontation with police at Dhar-ul-Khair (Miadhu online, October 8, 2007; The Guardian, October 9, 2007).

The Pakistan Factor

There is growing evidence of Maldivian youths frequenting Pakistan for reasons unknown or suspicious in nature, though enrollment in various madrassas (Islamic seminaries) was usually cited as the prime reason for their travel. Intelligence agencies of the United States and India have noted this development with concern and believe that the growing religious extremism in Maldives is a Pakistani import.

In the early weeks of February 2010, nine alleged Maldivian terrorists who were arrested in Pakistan’s troubled South Waziristan tribal agency in March, 2009 were brought back to the Maldives. According to Maldivian police, these nine people have ties to the 2007 Sultan Park bombing and may have left the country for Pakistan via Sri Lanka for further training and indoctrination. The nine suspects, who were repatriated in two phases, included Yoosuf Izaadhy, Ahmed Ashraf, Abdullah Sameer, Ali Faiz, Moosa Yoosuf, Yoosuf Mohammed, Ali Shafeeq, Mohamed Zuhrey, and Ahmed Ali. (Haveruu Online, April 2, 2009; Minivan News, April 1, 2009; Miadhu Daily, February 8).

The infiltration of Pakistani militants in the Malidives goes back to the post-tsunami period. The Pakistan-based Idara Khidmat-e-Khalq (IKK), a charitable front of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), reached the Maldives in the wake of the December, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami under the guise of providing humanitarian services. The JuD is the political face of the Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist group. According to intelligence sources, the IKK spearheaded LeT’s activities in the Maldives, which focused on drawing youths into its fold (rediff.com, September 10, 2009). The IKK reported spending $282,000 in the Maldives, although the Maldivian government says the organization was never registered as a charitable group providing post-Tsunami relief (The Hindu, November 14, 2007).

Worried India

Neighboring India fears that the Maldives’ territory will be used as a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists or as a launching pad for attacks against India. The Maldives are undoubtedly a fertile ground for jihadist recruitment, due to an already radicalized youth (the effect of schools and madrassas being taken over by Mullahs), the influence of the Islamist organization Jamiat Ahl e-Hadith and the persuasive power of Islamist propaganda urging Maldivians to fight to relieve the plight of fellow Muslims abroad. As such, the Maldives offer excellent prospects for global jihadi groups like the LeT and al-Qaeda. Even Maldivian President Mohammed Naseed believes that there is a Maldivian connection to LeT’s November 2008 attack on Mumbai (Rediff.com, October 26, 2009). With increasing concern for the growing radicalization of Maldivian society, and as reports surfaced about the LeT’s foray into the archipelago, the government announced in January that it would not allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities against its neighbors, especially India (Press Trust of India, February 4).

The LeT has been trying to set up bases in uninhabited islands in the Indian Ocean since early 2005 under the guise of carrying out charitable operations. In mid-2009, India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) issued a warning that the next big attack on Indian soil would be launched from the Maldives and that this threat necessitated the establishment of a robust coastal security apparatus (Rediff.com, July 7, 2009). The IB has also cautioned that terrorist groups like LeT were trying to infiltrate India’s porous coastline (Economic Times, June 30, 2009). Though this alert seemed routine, the actual threat emanating from places like Maldives is not totally unfounded. Again this year, the IB issued intelligence reports about LeT’s aggressive strategy, which has seen the movement deploy nearly 1,000 operatives in the Maldives (Rediff.com, February 4; Minivan News, February 4).

In April 2005, Kerala police arrested Maldivian national Asif Ibrahim, who had reportedly frequented the Indian state to procure arms and ammunition for the LeT's Maldives operations. Ibrahim confessed to having planned to blow up a government-run mosque and to assassinate then-Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Sabahuddin Ahmed, one the prime suspects in the Mumbai carnage, has disclosed details of the LeT's Maldives chapter and the organization’s attempt to recruit youths there (Rediff.com, December 19, 2008).

Salafi Jihad and Talibanization

On an official level, the Maldivian government has become involved in promoting a deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government. A secret meeting in January between Afghan government officials and a delegation that included representatives of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami, along with seven men “with close links to the Taliban and respected by Mullah Omar” raised fears among some Maldivians over a perceived trend towards Taliban-style governance in the Maldives (Minivan News, January 28). [5]

The newly democratized Maldives has been coming under the grip of a Salafi-Jihadi ideology which is increasingly gaining currency among Maldivians, especially the youth. Radical political parties such as the Adhalaat (Justice) Party (part of the government coalition) are clamoring for Shari’a to be implemented. Adhalaat, which is sympathetic to the Taliban, also control’s the nation’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Another growing Salafi-Wahhabist organization is the Jamiat ul-Salaf, which is vehemently opposed to secularism within Muslim-dominated societies. Jamiat ul-Salaf supports Islamizing education in the country and promotes intolerance towards other religions, especially Christianity.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs of the Maldives claims to have developed de-radicalization methods and has been taking measures to curb the activities of the various transnational Islamic organizations that have arrived in the Maldives in recent years (Miadhu Daily, April 12, 2009). However, the radical branch of Islam and its call for jihad against non-believers has many more supporters in the Maldives now than in the past and threatens to continue inducing Muslim youths in that country to join global jihadi groups.

1. For a complete transcript of President Mohamed Nasheed’s interview, See “Radicals in Pak recruiting our youth: Maldives”, CNN-IBN, New Delhi, Oct 25, 2009.
2. See video of Ali Jaleel at www.liveleak.com/view .
3. See the video at threatswatch.org/rapidrecon/2007/11/ansar-almujahideen-targets-the 
4. Maldives Police Service, www.police.gov.mv, December 13, 2007.
5. Al-Jazeera TV, January 28 - english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/01/20101271653316762.html


*** According to the Jihadi Shaykh himself, these attacks are NOT legitimate. As for the skepticism expressed on mass-casualty attacks killing Muslims, these "havoc-wreaking criminals" have taken credit for many of them already. It is for this very reason the Americans and company came in the first place, remember? MS ***

FROM: http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/ (Briefs - Feb.12, 2010)


Al-Qaeda’s al-Fajr Media Center has released a religious ruling on the permissibility of mass-casualty attacks in public places like markets. Written by Shaykh Atiyatullah, the ruling came in response to an inquiry into the October 28, 2009 market bombing in Peshawar. The bombing was carried out through the detonation of 150 kg of explosives hidden in a parked car, and it devastated the Mina Bazaar of Peshawar, reserved for the use of women and children. Over 100 people were killed and 200 wounded, mostly women. At the time, both the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and al-Qaeda denied involvement in the attack, which sparked widespread outrage (The News [Islamabad], October 29, 2009; Dawn [Karachi], October 30).

In the format typical of such rulings, a questioner asked whether it was permissible in Islam to celebrate the deaths of “shoppers, merchants and the general populace,” given what the questioner asserted to be the victim’s “serious shortcomings in matters of religion, thinking only about their worldly life and sustenance, refraining from jihad, deserting the mujahideen, and living under the authority of an apostate government?”

Shaykh Atiyatullah’s ruling starts out in a promising fashion with a strong condemnation of such attacks, saying that Muslims are obliged to object to them as means of spreading corruption, falsehood, oppression and transgression. In short, they are “contrary to the pure religion of Islam.” According to the shaykh, “It is a religious fact known to all that it is forbidden to transgress against a Muslim’s life… It is considered one of the greatest of sins after shirk [polytheism].”

Based on these considerations, Shaykh Atiyatullah draws the conclusion that these types of bombings could not have been carried out by the mujahideen, whose activities never transgress the laws of Islam. “We firmly believe that they are carried out by the enemies of Allah, either through criminal security contractors such as Blackwater [Xe Services LLC] and their likes, or other filthy groups working under Pakistani intelligence [Inter-Services Intelligence – ISI] or some criminal impure generals in the army.” The Shaykh alleges that the purpose of these bombings is to discredit the mujahideen and destroy their image in the Islamic world while scaring Muslims away from participating in jihad.

Shaykh Atiyatullah provides a lengthy quotation from an earlier statement by al-Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, Shaykh Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (a.k.a. Shaykh Saeed al-Masri) on the Peshawar bombing (ansarnet.info, November 11, 2009). Part of the passage cited by Atiyatullah similarly claims the bombing and all those like it to be the work of Blackwater and Western intelligence agencies in league with the apostate rulers of Muslim nations:

"We believe that such bombings are the work of the Crusaders, the enemies of God, and their allies in the government and intelligence. It is part of the dirty war that they practice. How could that not be when they are the ones who mean harm to Muslims? They do not have any consideration for any sanctity and Muslim blood is worthless to them. Today, everyone knows that Blackwater and other criminal groups have violated Pakistan with support from [Pakistan’s] corrupt and criminal government and its security agencies. They commit these ugly actions and blame them on the mujahideen through their media outlets in order to tarnish the image of the mujahideen and Muslims."

Shaykh Atiyatullah pauses to consider the possibility that some of these mass-casualty attacks on civilians may have been committed by the mujahideen, noting that if this is so, the culprits “are not mujahideen, but rather havoc-wreaking criminals… But in reality the probability of this is negligible, and all praise is due to Allah, the mujahideen can certainly not do this.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010


FROM: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/02/10/rings_of_terror

While we will be entering a world where the al Qaeda organization will come to matter less, today it still remains as the central point of reference. A scan of the current jihadi landscape reveals that there are roughly six degrees of al Qaeda affiliation, each of which poses its own threat and requires a different response.

1. Al Qaeda's original leadership. The first group is made up of al Qaeda's original leadership -- and it is shriveling up like the roster of the local VFW. This crew still has a few big names: still-at-large figures like Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Abu Yahya al-Libi. But the original core of al Qaeda is shrinking fast. No one knows the exact composition of this highest-level group, nor its exact whereabouts. But the best intelligence suggests the members live somewhere in the vicinity of Pakistan.

2. Al Qaeda's regional subsidiaries. Next, there are members of al Qaeda's regional subsidiaries, local terrorist or insurgent groups that have declared allegiance to the group. This includes outfits such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ansar al-Sunnah in Iraq, al-Shabab in Somalia, and segments of the Taliban. These organizations do not take operational direction from al Qaeda's core, but accept broad strategic guidance. They are often critical to al Qaeda's efforts to expand its jihad throughout the globe. Al Qaeda, in turn, exploits these proxy groups, often mired in regional conflicts, to co-opt nationalist struggles into its broader narrative. Often, the senior leaders of these regional insurgent-cum-terrorist groups are in contact with original senior al Qaeda leadership.

3. Associated free agents. Associated free agents are individuals who are not official members of any terrorist group, but still have a connection, such as the radicals who carried out the 2004 Madrid train bombing. Their exact relationship to al Qaeda is often the most difficult to pin down because their affiliation tends to be fluid. Two days after the Madrid attacks, investigators found a video recorded by a man named Abu Dujan al-Afghani, taking credit for the attack and claiming to be al Qaeda's "European military spokesman." But a two-year probe into the plot found little evidence that the Madrid bombers really had al Qaeda support. Their exact relationship to al Qaeda remains clouded, though there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence.

4. Entrepreneurial jihadists. Next, there are groups of entrepreneurial jihadists: radicals from outside conflict zones who nurse simmering grievances and conceive small-bore plots, rather than attempting spectacular attacks. These groups exist mostly in Europe, but also in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Entrepreneurial jihadists do not form organizations out of shared conflict experience or with the help of an al Qaeda associate, though they might try to establish contact with al Qaeda for training and equipment. Virtually any British terrorist cell, the Toronto 18, and the Somali immigrants involved in the recent plot out of Australia can be considered entrepreneurial jihadists. Often, these entrepreneurial jihadists come into violence through gateway groups like Hizb ut-Tahrir or the Muslim Students Association. Former radical Islamist Ed Husain offers an excellent account of this dynamic in his memoir, The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left.

5. Lone wolves. Lone wolves are individuals who share al Qaeda's ideology but have no connection with al Qaeda or any terrorist organization for that matter. Nidal Hassan, the Fort Hood shooter, is a classic case of a lone wolf terrorist -- someone who was radicalized by jihadi ideology, but who did not take instructions from jihadists. Lone wolves develop their missions on their own; if they managed to connect with like-minded individuals, they could move up to the entrepreneurial jihadist category. Most often, their operations are limited in their scale, scope, and effectiveness.

6. "Armchair jihadists," or jihadist pundits. These individuals share al Qaeda's ideology, but have no operational role in the organization. Still, their threat is insidious; although these individuals do not conduct operations, their ideology is disseminated, often over the Internet, and helps to radicalize others. Radical Yemeni preacher Anwar al-Awlaki is a jihadist pundit who has been responsible for radicalizing not just Nidal Hassan, but others as well.

MS: Then we have Jihadi Ideologues, Jihadi wannabe's, G.I. Jihadi's and so on.


*** This hurts. Alot. MS ***

FROM: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/763741--poll-shows-canada-to-be-losing-its-influence

Canadians are famously apologetic.

Now an international poll, released Thursday, gives them one more reason to be self-effacing. Since last year, it finds, views of Canada's influence have worsened in some of the world's most powerful countries – and at home.

"Until last year, perceptions of Canadian influence had been on the rise in many countries," according to the poll of about 20,000 people across 18 countries, done by the international opinion research company GlobeScan and the BBC World Service.

But on the eve of the 2010 Olympics, "ratings of Canada's influence in the world by some of Canada's major trading partners have declined sharply for the first time since tracking began in 2005."

The biggest drops in ratings were in the United States, where the proportion of people who saw Canada's influence as positive fell to 67 per cent last year from 82 per cent in 2008, and China, where it plunged to 54 per cent from 75 per cent.

In Britain, positive ratings sank to 62 per cent from 74 per cent over the past year. And in Australia, one of the most favourably disposed countries, they declined to 72 per cent from 77 per cent.

The self-image of Canadians also dwindled. The 86 per cent who felt positive about their country's influence in 2008 shrank to 75 per cent last year.

"Canada's reputation is quivering," said GlobeScan's Canadian chairman Doug Miller.

Nevertheless, the poll pointed out, Canada is still one of the world's most positively viewed countries, and overall, with only Germany felt to have a more positive influence in the world. Canada's influence was rated most highly in France, with 79 per cent positive responses.

Although the survey doesn't ask questions about motive, Miller said, "in most of the countries where figures declined there was negative media attention related to environmental topics."

Canada's record on climate change, and poor showing at the Copenhagen conference, won widespread condemnation last year. Ottawa was targeted for ridicule by environmental groups.

"These numbers may be a sign that our present federal government's consistently awful performance on climate change is now harming the world's view of Canada overall," said Matthew Bramley, director of climate change for the Pembina Institute.

There may be other issues at stake, said Paul Heinbecker of Wilfrid Laurier University and the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

"Canada has played down the significance of China for years, and if you look at the Middle East and beyond, it has aligned itself with Israel on everything to do with the Palestinians. Our military gets good reviews for Afghanistan, but once we're out of there, we don't have much else to point to when it comes to diplomacy," he said.

There is some good news for Canadians in the survey.

"Negative feelings about Canada haven't deeply registered with the public in many countries yet," said Miller. "The numbers aren't going from positive to negative, they're going from positive to mixed."

Public opinion is made up of many factors, said Jonathan Rose, an associate professor of political studies at Queen's University.

"It's a combination of top-of-head, well-formed opinion, current events and perception of leadership."