*** One major error in the article: CSIS is NOT the intelligence arm of the RCMP it is its own agency, thank you very much. MS ***
Other Islamic terrorist cells like the so-called Toronto 18 exist in Canada, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service's former top strategic planner told QMI Agency.
And with police and intelligence agencies preparing for world leaders' conferences in Huntsville, Ont., and Toronto in June, David Harris fears jihadists may be preparing a major disruption for visiting dignitaries.
"It stands to reason that, with the G20 here, it offers a wonderful opportunity to Islamist extremists and radicals of all types to launch an offensive," said Harris, a lawyer and director of the international and terrorist intelligence program at Insignis Strategic Research Inc. in Ottawa.
The "ultimate goal" of such subversives is "to kill as many of the infidels as possible," he said Monday. "By doing so, such extremists demonstrate the radical Islamist threat writ runs in Canada and is capable of compromising any security efforts."
The geography of a large city or the rural area of Muskoka, where the G8 will be held, is of no concern to determined terrorists committed to a cause, he said.
The G20 summit offers a "choice target," Harris said.
Other than saying larger cities are their likeliest hideouts, he couldn't disclose specifics or the location of groups similar to the 18 men from the Toronto area arrested in 2006.
"The only thing I can say, unfortunately, is this reflects the thinking at the highest levels of our intelligence community," Harris said of their existence.
Targeted after an intelligence agent infiltrated the group, the Toronto 18 were accused of plotting to bomb CSIS offices in Toronto, the Toronto Stock Exchange and a military base. One organizer threatened to cut off Prime Minister Stephen Harper's head.
On Monday, a judge advised a Brampton jury that accused ringleader Fahim Ahmad, 25, had pleaded guilty to participating in a terrorist group. Only two others now await trial.
Harris said radical Islamists view those who don't follow their doctrines as "satanic," and have no regard for normal rules of war, including innocents killed or maimed - so-called "collateral damage."
Canada's military can be recruited in emergencies, but he said the job of protecting citizens from terrorism falls first to the RCMP and its intelligence arm, CSIS, and police.
Intelligence agencies would do risk and site assessments in advance of major events such as the G8 and G20, sharing information with their "police partners for multiple co-operation" and co-ordination of resources, Harris said.