Tuesday, August 31, 2010


*** Looks like they gave up using violence - a feature that is quite common with many of these type of groups. I know Mr. Ford personally and he has since become a Sufi Muslim - in fact, I had baklava with him a few weeks ago at the Jerrahi Cultural Centre - a well-known peaceful and mystical centre. I can personally state that the leader of Hasanville will sit with CSIS at any time - provided I am present. MS ***


Almost everybody has forgotten the first homegrown Islamic terrorist plot on Toronto.

In 1991, five black Muslim followers of the Pakistani movement Jamaat Al Fuqra stood accused of conspiring to simultaneously blow up two Toronto buildings in an attempt to kill 4,500 people.

At the time, the case appeared isolated. Only now can it be seen as part of a series of alleged and proven cases of homegrown Islamic terror in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.

Two years before the first World Trade Center bombing and a decade before the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Toronto was to become the original ground zero of Islamic terrorism in North America.

The plot was to simultaneously blow up the India Centre cinema (capacity 500) on Gerrard St. E., and the Vishnu Hindu temple (capacity 4,000) in Richmond Hill during the Hindu Festival of Lights when the buildings were expected to be full.

“A cold-blooded conspiracy,” the trial judge called the attempt. “Your actions are despicable and represent a challenge to the very fabric of our society.”

The story begins with Glenn Neville Ford, a Trinidadian native and Muslim convert.

In the mid-1970s he immigrated to Toronto and by 1982 had founded a branch of the Jamaat Al Fuqra sect, led by Pakistani cleric Sheik Mubarik Ali Gilani.

Gilani was the man Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was to meet when he was kidnapped and killed in 2002. Pearl was trying to confirm an alleged connection between Al Fuqra and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

“The mission of this Jamaat al-Fuqra (Army of the Poor) is to lead Muslims to their final victory over Communists, Zionists, Hindus (and) deviators,” Gilani wrote in a book seized by Toronto police, Mohammedan Revelations.

Ford twice travelled to Lahore, Pakistan, to study at Gilani’s International Quranic Open University, described by the FBI as a terror front. In 1991, Ford also followed Gilani’s call to establish a rural collective to insulate followers from Western culture.

With another Trinidad-born Torontonian, Max Lon Fongenie, Ford bought land near Algonquin Park at Combermere to start a settlement called Hasanville. Three dozen such compounds exist in North America.

Regular Hasanville visitors that summer included Tyrone Cole, Robert Wesley and Caba Jose Harris, all converts to Islam and all from Texas. There, police alleged, they hatched a plan.

On Oct. 3, 1991, in two cars, Ford and the Texans attempted to enter the United States at Niagara Falls.

U.S. border guards spotted a letter with the phrase “dying as a soldier of Allah.” They found floor plans of the cinema and temple.

They also found aerial photos, videotaped interiors, entry plans, bomb-making instructions and diagrams showing how to wrap explosives around natural gas lines to inflict maximum human carnage.

One document led police to a Brooklyn address and a cache of two rifles, seven handguns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. The four travellers, police said, were heading to Brooklyn to pick up the weapons.

Eight men were accused. One was quickly dismissed. Fongenie escaped to Pakistan. A Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to weapons offences. Ford, the three Texans and another Toronto man, Khidr Ali, were sent to trial.

That trial was set to begin in April 1993, then postponed.

Barely a month had passed since the first World Trade Center bombing that killed six people and injured 1,042. An Al Fuqra connection to the New York attack was suspected — and later confirmed — leading to fears that the University Ave. courthouse might also be bombed.

Since 1982, Al Fuqra had been found responsible for 17 other criminal acts in the United States, including murders and fire bombings, an FBI agent would later testify.

The trial was switched to St. Catharines. Rooftop snipers, police barricades, metal detectors and search dogs secured the area. The five accused rode to court chained together at wrist and ankle in a seven-car police convoy.

“This is a very serious case,” said Toronto police Det. David Malcolm.

But the outcome proved anti-climactic. All five beat the main charge of conspiring to commit murder.

The three Texans — “members of a terrorist movement,” the judge called them — were convicted of conspiring to commit mischief endangering life. Each was sentenced to 12 years. In April 2006 they were freed and deported.

Both Torontonians were acquitted. Ford and Ali left to live in Hasanville and the entire episode slipped from public consciousness.

A 2006 report from Ottawa’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre deemed Al Fuqra not to be a terrorist threat in Canada. The U.S. government listed Al Fuqra as a terrorist organization in 1995 and delisted it in 2000 for lack of activity.


*** I hope the wiretaps hold up and I hope they do a proper analysis of the contents. It could be just like the Toronto 18 case; everyone swearing up and down the suspect(s) are not involved and the lo and behold - their voices on tape confirming it. MS ***


By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Wiretaps expected to be introduced in court Friday may also help connect the dots between a suspect charged with assault and the arrests of three other men on terrorism charges.

While the RCMP arrested the 20-year-old Ottawa man last week in connection with their year-long homegrown terror probe, he wasn't charged in that case.

Instead, he is now being detained on unrelated domestic assault charges.

A bail hearing in the assault case was held Tuesday, but a decision pushed back until the end of the week because the Crown provided the defence with its evidence only on Tuesday morning.

The man's lawyer, Richard Morris, asked for the court delay.

"Part of the process is you're trying to maximize the odds of success and part of that from my perspective is making sure I know the case the Crown is going to bring against my client, so I can answer it properly and completely," said Morris.

While many media outlets have named the individual, The Canadian Press has refrained from doing so because the RCMP has not publicly linked the man to the terrorism probe, nor indicated it will proceed any further.

Morris said he would meet with his client later Tuesday to review the 19 different evidentiary documents provided by the Crown, including transcripts of the wiretaps. Morris said he'll also listen to the audio itself.

"They appear to be conversations, I don't even know who is in the conversations at this point," Morris said outside court.

Neither side is expected to ask for a publication ban on the evidence on Friday, meaning whatever is on the tapes can be made public.

Morris said he wasn't concerned that the information could be overly prejudicial.

"My view is that if any one of us had a microphone in our house for a period of time we'd probably be embarrassed if some of the material comes out, and I trust the public will realize that," he said.

The man's sister and father are also expected to be called as witnesses.

He didn't speak in court Tuesday, save for telling the justice his name.

Included in the group of people at the courthouse were several young Muslim women who bided the time before the hearing trading stories about how hard it is to be a young female Muslim.

Outside the courthouse, they pushed back at a news photographer attempting to take their photo, yelling at her that she didn't have ethics or morals.

A cluster of young men awaiting the court hearing gathered around a copy of a local newspaper featuring the man's story.

As one of them put it: "They don't have anything on him. It even says so." (MS: That is why local papers do not substitute for evidence.)

Outside court, one of the men said he was worried about justice taking too long.

"I see a lot of delays, fumbling around and procrastination," said Troy Rambaran, who said he knows the man and his family.

"That's not how it's supposed to be going on. I feel that it's an abuse of power."

Morris said his client was frustrated by the delay.

"He was looking forward to the bail hearing," he said.

"Just because of the inherent slowness of the process, he's frustrated in that goal."

Three other men are in custody after a year-long investigation by the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and other agencies.

Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa and Khurram Syed Sher, 28, of London, Ont., are charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

They were expected to appear in court Wednesday.

Morris said he didn't know whether his client knew any of the terror suspects.

They were arrested after an investigation that included the discovery of more than 50 electronic circuit boards, supposedly designed to be remote detonators for explosive devices.

Police also seized videos, terrorist literature and bomb-related documents.

Police claim the terrorism plot stretches from Ottawa to Afghanistan, Dubai, Iran and Pakistan. But there has been no official word on the alleged targets.

Morris said he had no indication that terrorism charges against his client were coming.

But the strangeness of his client's case so far means anything is possible, the lawyer suggested.

The man was arrested Friday, released on bail Saturday and then promptly rearrested again.

"It's getting to the point where little surprises me," said Morris.

Monday, August 30, 2010


*** An excellent article. MS ***

Bitter religious fighting over mosque plays right into al-Qaeda's hands

By Evan F. Kohlmann

The way that renowned Christian preacher Franklin Graham portrayed Muslims on a nationally-televised news broadcast last week, one would imagine that Islam is some sort of insidious cancer devouring the civilized world. Between his nauseating description of Islam as a "devilish" faith and his nonsensical discussion about the "Muslim seed" of President Obama, Graham managed to shame not only himself, but also the very democratic, pluralist ideals that we as Americans aspire to. I watched in disgust as his uninterrupted tirade continued, and it suddenly occurred to me that some viewers might not recognize that Graham speaks only for a prejudiced minority, whose numbers have been artificially inflated by the cynical recent tactics of various political candidates. To that segment of viewers, Graham instead represents the larger, ugly face of American xenophobia and prejudice--and in doing so, this self-described "man of God" has merely provided extra ammunition for al-Qaeda to use in its battle against us, our constitutional ideals, and our ethos of personal freedom.

Indeed, al-Qaeda's leaders understand better than most that their own twisted political philosophy is terribly unpopular, amongst the vast majority of both Muslims and non-Muslims. This being the case, al-Qaeda and its global affiliates have embarked on a desperate search for English-speaking envoys who can successfully reach out to Muslims and somehow convince them to abandon their American homeland. Jihadist pundits including Adam Gadahn and Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki have attempted to paint a gloomy and foreboding future for Muslims in the U.S.--forcibly corralled into "concentration camps" and otherwise treated like errant Jews under a revived Nazi regime. These militants have scoffed at the election of a supposedly transformational figure like President Barack Obama and instead urge Muslim Americans to withdraw from a society that refuses to accept them in order to become the next "heroic" iteration of Nidal Hassan or Faisal Shahzad. Essentially, the mission of Americanized al-Qaeda spokesmen like Gadahn and al-Awlaki is quite simple: to provoke us into tearing ourselves apart.

For nearly a decade, despite the tremendous emotional fallout from 9/11, ordinary Americans have, by-and-large, resisted any serious impulse towards scapegoating and Islamophobia. Conversely, only a fringe scattering of extremists have managed to emerge from the Muslim community in the United States. Indeed, even when they have emerged, it is often other American Muslims within the community who are the first to warn law enforcement about the potential danger. Despite the raucous protests of demonstrators outside the proposed location of Cordoba House in New York, the simple reality is that there is no "fifth column" of extreme Muslim fanatics waiting in the wings to take over America and impose harsh interpretations of Shariah law. But if mainstream American politicians continue in their bids to score cheap points by pointlessly demonizing Islam, and if mainstream media continue to give such views an uncritical national platform, then the risk of social alienation will edge higher amongst Muslim youths--who can rightfully ask what kind of place is there for them in an America which is openly and virulently hostile to their culture and faith. This kind of radicalization cannot be traced to a particular mosque, sermon, or even a charismatic Imam. No, should this kind of radicalization eventually occur, then we really have nobody but ourselves to blame for it.

Setting aside the exceptionally poisonous rhetoric of late, there are perhaps rational, sensible arguments both for and against the building of Cordoba House near Ground Zero. Certainly, the families of 9/11 victims have a right to express their views, and it would seem that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his colleagues failed to consider the larger consequences of inaugurating an ambitious project in such an emotionally-charged piece of real estate. Given the explosion of controversy and invective, one wonders whether building this mosque will really help ease the divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims. Nevertheless, it is worth considering that, in the view of al-Qaeda's hardcore constituents, for America to accept and embrace such an institution in the heart of Ground Zero would be the worst possible outcome. One such miscreant, in expressing his views on Cordoba House in an online al-Qaeda chat, said, "the game is clear--damn Obama and his goal of building this mosque. The purpose of building the mosque in that place is for America to regain its dignity."

Evan F Kohlmann is a Senior Partner at Flashpoint Global Partners,
a New York-based security consulting firm. He is the author of "Al-Qaida's Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network."

By Evan F. Kohlmann | August 27, 2010; 1:36 PM ET

Sunday, August 29, 2010


*** Remember all that jazz coming from the Prime Minister about how the detainee abuse issue was an affront to our troops? Well, the government gives those same troops a middle-finger salute; you put up pretty road signs, call it Highway of Heroes but when they need some real help - where is the support? This is a travesty. MS ***

OTTAWA - Ordinary soldiers wounded in the line of duty, veterans with families and the most severely disabled of troops are the biggest losers under Ottawa's new system of compensating those who've laid down their lives for the country, says an independent analysis.

The detailed actuarial study, commissioned by the Veterans Ombudsman's office and obtained by The Canadian Press, was presented last year to Veterans Affairs Canada, but the department sat on the document and has not formally responded to its findings.

The 77-page report compared the system of lump-sum payments and qualified benefits under the New Veterans Charter and the old policy of guaranteed lifetime pensions, which was set up for soldiers following the Second World War.

The findings buttress the vocal arguments made by outgoing Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran, whose term the Conservative government has refused to renew.

Stogran, a blunt-talking former army colonel, accused federal bureaucrats earlier this month of "penny-pinching" veterans and stonewalling or killing his efforts to improve benefits for former servicemen and women.

The study found senior officers, the ones at the highest end of the pay scale, benefited the most from the new system. The lower the rank, the worse off the soldiers become and it gets even more difficult if the wounded veteran is married and midway through their career.

"Based on our assumptions, we are of the opinion that the actuarial present values of benefits identified in our evaluation offered through the (New Veterans Charter) are lower, in the majority of cases, than the actuarial present values of benefits offered under the Pension Act," says a final report by Aon Consulting Inc., dated Dec. 18, 2009.

It determined that young, single soldiers come out slightly ahead under the new system — as long as their cash settlements are invested with a rate of return between 3.75 and four per cent. But critics have warned that many young, wounded troops are blowing their payments.

War widows and orphans are better off with the new system, says the report.

The study took aim at the lump-sum payments, which can be up to $276,000 for the most severe injuries. It concluded that over time the previous system left soldiers with more money in their pockets and that the existing one-time payout was too cheap.

Aon created an actuarial model and entered more than 600 profiles of potential cases, which were then evaluated. In almost every instance, taking into account gender, age, family status, level of disability and pre-injury income, soldiers at the bottom end of the pay scale came out poorer.

"The Disability Award payable under the (New Veterans Charter) does not appear to be sufficient to compensate for these differences in the majority of cases," said the exhaustive study.

Critics have long argued that the lump sum payout was too cheap and point to Britain where injured soldiers are offered tax-free payments equivalent to $929,000.

Veterans Affairs has argued that wounded soldiers receive other stipends in addition to the lump-sum payment, including earnings loss protection and income support. The Aon study factored in those additional benefits and the numbers still came out the same.

That's because, unlike the previous system, most of the new benefits are subject to income tax.

Soldiers permanently disabled in Afghanistan, by a roadside bomb as an example, must pay tax on their permanent impairment allowance, while the old system of exceptional incapacity allowance was tax-free.

The taxation erosion of benefits gets even worse when you factor in where the soldier lives. Those in highly taxed provinces, such as those on the East Coast, get slammed even harder, according to the analysis.

Female soldiers, since they have a tendency to live longer than men, are also hurt by the new system.

The study encompassed both permanently and partially disabled veterans, as well as war widows.

Veterans Affairs is currently reviewing the impact of the New Veterans Charter, and minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn noted the ombudsman's analysis.

"I am pleased that this study demonstrates that certain clients, such as survivors and orphans, benefit from the NVC. For clients for whom the NVC seems less advantageous, this is something that we are currently looking into," he said.

"Therefore, as I said many times, the Charter is a living document and something I am ready to act on. Soon, I will receive a full evaluation of all the services and financial aspects of the Charter and I will be in a position to make decisions."

He did not say why the department has not responded directly to Stogran's office.


*** We all know violence only begets more violence - it is a rule of nature. However my view is that Canada CANNOT stay out of all conflicts in the Muslim world because fact is, some of those places are doing terrible things to their OWN people and then we DEMAND Canada do something. Damned if we do, damned if we don't. MS ***

A news story answers five Ws — who, what, when, where and why. But the “why” has mostly been missing from the coverage of the latest terrorism case in Canada.

We’ve been told a great deal about the 50-plus electronic circuit boards designed to remotely detonate bombs in Ottawa, yet very little about the motives of the Canadian citizens charged.

Serge Therriault, chief RCMP investigator, said that the group was opposed to the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan.

This is the fourth major terrorism case in Canada and all four have had to do with Afghanistan.

The Toronto 18 (who became the Toronto 11 after charges were withdrawn against seven) were convicted for plotting to attack civilian targets in Toronto and Ottawa with a view to forcing the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

In February, Said Namouh of Montreal was convicted on four terrorism charges related to his involvement in a plan to bomb targets in Germany and Austria because of those countries’ military presence in Afghanistan.

In 2008, Momin Khawaja of Ottawa was convicted for helping British terrorists angry at the NATO war in Afghanistan.

Stephen Harper has said — as had George W. Bush and as does Barack Obama — that we are in Afghanistan to ensure that the terrorists don’t come here. The counter-argument has been that they might come here precisely because we are there.

It has turned out worse. Terrorists don’t have to come here to attack us. Their sympathizers here will. They may act for Al Qaeda and the Taliban or act on their own. Some may go to Pakistan for military training but many may assemble a bomb from a manual downloaded from the Internet.

Some may be religious, many not. Some may invoke Islam but many act out of solidarity with Muslims. They may be immigrants or, more likely, second-generation Canadians, as Public Safety Minister Vic Towes said Thursday.

They may be “the most unlikely individuals” — engineers, doctors, hospital technicians, seemingly well integrated, such as the pathologist Khurram Sher, a product of and participant in the popular culture of NHL hockey and Canadian Idol. Or they may be uneducated, unemployed, troubled, disaffected.

All this refutes the clichés we have been fed for the last nine years about terrorists:

They are all “Islamic radicals” nurtured in madrassas or mosques, brainwashed into jihad by antediluvian imams. If only the madrassas could be shut down, the imams made to shut up, and “moderate” Muslims rise up against “radical Islam,” the danger would disappear.

This fantasy had a purpose.

If Islam could be made the issue, writes Ron Paul, a Republican congressman, then “radical religious Islamic views were the only reasons for 9/11,” and not “a desire to retaliate against what many Muslims saw as American aggression and occupation.”

We’ve had the Afghan and Iraq wars since.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of M15, the British security agency, said last month that Britain’s “involvement in Iraq radicalized a whole generation of young people . . . who saw our involvement in Iraq, on top of our involvement in Afghanistan, as an attack on Islam.” It led to an “almost overwhelming” increase in homegrown terrorism.

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, said in June that American authorities are alarmed at the flurry of terrorist plots, by those directed by Al Qaeda and by “self-radicalized” militants.

Towes, too, talked about the threat posed by “homegrown” and “self-radicalized” terrorists in Canada.

So while Al Qaeda and its offshoots are weaker than they’ve ever been since 2001, says Panetta, the threat of the terrorist next door has increased.

The solution is not to panic or hector the Muslim community to rein in their own — they would if they could — but rather to stop being in denial that there is no connection between the wars we wage and the terrorist mayhem that they trigger, there and here.

No state can be held hostage by terrorists into changing its foreign policy. Such actors must be ferreted out, charged, convicted and jailed — as they have been, thanks to the good work of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, other police forces and our judicial system.

Yet such cases should give us pause — so that we are not herded into blindly backing endless wars and occupations abroad.


Saturday, August 28, 2010


*** The media will be sure to relegate this to another headline and a few days later, the public AND the media will ask: are Muslims condemning extremist violence. It's a vicious cycle that perpetuates alienation and mistrust. MS ***

OTTAWA — The imam of Ottawa’s largest mosque has appealed to Muslim youth to reject terrorism and not import Middle East conflicts to Canada.

In an interview following Friday prayers, Imam Khaled Abdul-Hamid Syed said Muslim Canadians “live in the best country” in the West, one that gives its citizens the freedom to express differing views.

“We don’t need to go in the direction of violence.

“I appeal to the Muslim youth not to get involved in any acts of violence or terrorism or other criminal behaviour,” Khaled said. “Keep away from this.”

He said that he did not perceive a widespread problem with Muslim youth in Ottawa.

“I think we have good youth. They are active and co-operative in this community.”

The imam’s comments follow the arrest of a fourth terrorism suspect in Ottawa on Friday. He has not yet been identified or charged.

Two other Ottawa men, Misbahuddin Ahmed and Hiva Alizadeh, and a London, Ont., doctor, Khurram Syed Sher, were arrested Wednesday and face terrorism charges related to alleged plot to bomb Canadian targets. Sher appeared in Ottawa court Friday.

In general, Khaled said, “we denounce any criminal behaviour or act of terrorism.”

But at this point, he said, he wasn’t in a position to “denounce or defend” the men who’ve been arrested.

“We trust in the Canadian justice system. So we should wait until the justice system concludes its work. If they are guilty, we will denounce them.”

Young Muslims should not get dragged into the conflicts of the Middle East, the imam said.

“We live in a safe and secure country. Our religion commands us to protect the land where we live.”

Terrorism or radicalism come from “strong emotion and a lack of knowledge,” Khaled said. The solution is for youth to seek education from imams and other scholars so they can “understand the reality of Islam.”

Naeem Malik, the president of the Ottawa Muslim Association, which operates the mosque on Northwestern Avenue, said Ottawa Muslims “are a bit worried” that the arrests could provoke a backlash similar to the one that occurred after the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

At that time, he said, Muslim women were harassed, told to remove their headscarves or go back to where they came from.

“People are saying, is it safe to come to the mosque to pray? Are we now going to be attacked?’”

Nobody has been harassed yet, Malik said. “So far everything is under control, and I hope things will stay that way.”

Friday’s sermon at the packed-to-overflowing mosque dealt with the fallout from this week’s arrests, though they were never mentioned directly.

Ehab El-Komy, a member of the board of the Muslim Association of Canada, delivered the sermon because Khaled, whose wife just had a baby, was too exhausted.

Using stories from the Koran to convey his message, El-Komy said upholding peace and security is a “fundamental principle” of Islam. So too, he said, are the presumption of innocence, the rule of law, and due process.

“It’s our responsibility as Muslims and as Canadians to uphold all those principles.”

When things such as this week’s arrests happen, El-Komy said, Muslims have a duty to speak up.

“It is very important for us to understand that we have a responsibility to speak up, not as victims, not as suspects, but as Muslims. And as Muslim Canadians, we have a responsibility to speak up. We have to act when such incidents happen.”

“Every single one of us is at a checkpoint,” El-Komy told worshippers, who filled the mosque and spilled out on to the surrounding property. “And that checkpoint has to be guarded.”

He said some Canadians harbour fears and suspicions in the wake of the arrests, and some are well-founded.

“It’s our responsibility, not theirs, to understand those fears and deal with them in an appropriate manner.”


*** Let the spin begin! MS ***

OTTAWA — After an early Friday arrest potentially raised the number of people in an alleged Ottawa terror cell to seven, the Citizen has learned there is a possible eighth conspirator in the suspected bomb plot against Parliament Hill and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Friday’s arrest occured at about 7:30 a.m. when several police vehicles and a heavily armed tactical team converged on a dark coloured Honda in the Hunt Club area of the city.

Police handcuffed the driver and searched the car. RCMP said the man has not been charged yet and as a result his identity is being withheld. Nor would they indicate whether he would be charged.

Three other Canadian men were arrested in Ottawa and London, Ont. Wednesday and Thursday. Three others, believed to be non-citizens and out of the country, are named as unindicted co-conspirators in what police believe was a local terror ring linked to the global Islamist terrorism movement.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior CSIS counter-terrorism agent and one-time RCMP security service officer, said a source close to the investigation has told him at least one suspect, the alleged ringleader Hiva Alizadeh, 30, used Ottawa Public Library computers to communicate with other members of the Ottawa-based cell.

“He was trying to avoid detection and surveillance,” Juneau-Katsuya said. “They wanted to hit Parliament Hill and there was discussion of going against public transportation in Montreal because one of the guys had studied there and new the system.” He added, “they were not excluding the possibility to some major (OC Transpo) hubs,” in Ottawa.

Isabelle Tremblay, spokeswoman for the Société de transport de Montréal, denied the Metro was a target. “We checked with police and the authorities and ... it’s not true,” she said.

Juneau-Katsuya said Internet messages between the men tripped computer “sniffers” at Ottawa’s Communication’s Security Establishment (CSE), the government’s electronic spy agency that intercepts the phone calls and e-mails of Canada’s adversaries.

“One of the (CSE) filters picked up their chat,” said Juneau-Katsuya. “The way the system is established, we’ve got red flags everywhere and you can trip one of those flags anytime. If you’re travelling to Pakistan, that’s a red flag. If you’re going on certain web sites, that’s another red flag and if you use certain key words in e-mail. When you’ve got enough red flags, then you become a person of interest. My understanding is they were caught from the Internet.”

CSE alerted the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), he said. At some point, CSIS alerted the RCMP, which launched the major national security investigation.

Juneau-Katsuya said a critical element in the year-long probe involved secretly monitoring the suspects’ e-mail and other communications via the public library computers. Police, he said, obtained the IP addresses from the City of Ottawa.

“This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of National Capital Region and Canada’s national security,” RCMP Chief Supt. Serge Therriault, head of criminal operations for the capital region, told an Ottawa news conference Thursday.

Therriault said Project Samossa, which employed about 100 joint-forces officers for the past year, was forced to move on the suspects this week when police learned financial support was about to be transferred from Canada for weapons to attack western coalition forces in Afghanistan.

A veteran Ottawa intelligence expert, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said faced with that possibility, police had little choice but to make arrests.

“These arrests would be required as it is entirely probable that the money would have been used for the purchase of IED’s (improvised explosive devices) or other weapons which would have been targeted against Canadian soldiers or allies in the NATO led force.

“The commanders of such investigations are under multiple pressures, some of which are outside of their control. Investigators working at the front line of the investigation will want to open up more lines of investigation, putting pressure on scarce resources. Intelligence partners will want to continue the investigation to gather more intelligence, often without reference to the risks. Prosecutors want more direct evidence collected.

“But beyond those pressures, the investigation commander has to deal with the brutal facts that the failure to arrest may result in further deaths and injuries. It is a cruel pressure.”

The alleged plot was in its early planning stages and “months” away from being operationally viable, Therriault said. "There remained, throughout, a varied degree of imminence to the threat, whether they were going to conduct an attack or not and how it was going to be done.”

Two of the accused, Alizadeh, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa, were arrested Wednesday. The third, 28-year-old Khurram Syed Sher, was arrested in London, Ont. Thursday.

They face a variety of terrorism charges under the Criminal Code, including conspiring with at least three others — James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta — and other "persons unknown," who have been at one time or another located in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan, to facilitate “terrorist activity” between February 2008 and Aug. 24.

Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh — police won't say whether he is related to Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh — and Mamosta, all non-Canadians, are not in Canada and have not been charged. Therriault suggested international efforts may be made to arrest them.

Hiva Alizadeh, who lives in a Woodridge Crescent apartment in Bayshore, faces a separate charge of making or having an explosive substance — which can include IED components — in his possession with the intent to endanger life or cause serious damage.

Alizadeh is a member of a group with links to the conflict in Afghanistan, said Therriault, and received overseas training in building and detonating IEDs.

Juneau-Katsuya speculated the money to be sent to Afghanistan may have been payment for Alizadeh’s alleged explosives training.

Raids on Alizadeh’s and Ahmed’s west Ottawa homes Wednesday uncovered more than 50 circuit boards police believe were intended to remotely trigger detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Also seized were what was described as a “vast quantity” of schematics, videos, drawings, instructions and electronic components for IEDs.

Improvised bombs have been used for decades by terrorists and insurgents, but the war in Iraq accelerated their technological development, making roadside bombs a chief weapon against coalition troops in Afghanistan.

At the same time, with core al-Qaeda on the run in Pakistan and seemingly unable to mount another 9/11-scale attack, local Islamist extremists are turning to smaller attacks with IEDs.

Friday’s arrest involved officers from the Project Samossa investigation. It was witnessed by Hani Halabi who says he was leaving for work after 7:30 a.m. when at least 10 police officers, some carrying rifles, surrounded a dark-coloured car on Esson Street just before Hunt Club Road. The car was badly damaged on the driver’s side and the window was smashed.

“I think they pushed him to stop, that he didn’t stop by himself,” Halabi said, noting the damage.

Undercover cars, a tactical unit black SUV, RCMP and Ottawa police cruisers were parked nearby.

The man in the car looked to be in his late 20s. He was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, Halabi said. An officer approached the door, opened it for the man, and very slowly, the man got out.

He had a beard, “not long but not short,” and looked Indian or Middle Eastern, Halabi said.

The man did not resist arrest and was taken to a nearby cruiser to be handcuffed and searched.

Shortly after police apprehended the suspect they reopened the entrance to Hunt Club Road.

One woman on Esson who lives directly across from the scene said she heard police yelling. She opened her window and saw an officer standing on her lawn with a large automatic weapon.

He looked up at her, she closed her blinds and didn’t look again until everyone had left, she said.

Ottawa police spokeswoman Const. Katherine Larouche confirmed that RCMP conducted a traffic stop on Esson Friday morning and that Ottawa police were at the scene.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Marc Ménard wouldn’t confirm the stop, and said only that a search warrant associated with Project Samossa had been executed and that someone was taken into custody.

Later in the day, as reports emerged of a related domestic dispute, Ottawa police media relations manager Carole Lavigne said police were investigating a “fallout situation” of domestic dispute.

She would not provide any other details.

In Ottawa’s courtroom No. 6 Friday morning. Khurram Sher, a former Canadian Idol contestant, appeared nervous. He stood in the glass-enclosed prisoner's box with his hands in his pockets before taking them out and crossing them in front of him.

Tall with a scraggly black beard, Sher wore a striped dress shirt and dress pants. He said nothing except to speak to his lawyer in hushed voice.

He was remanded into custody pending an appearance by video next Wednesday with his two Ottawa co-accused who appeared in court Thursday and were remanded into custody.

Sher, who recently moved to London from Montreal, is charged with a single count of conspiracy to facilitate a terrorist offence with Alizadeh and Ahmed.

His lawyer, Anser Farooq, said his client was flown in from London to Ottawa on Thursday after he was arrested. Farooq said his first priority is to work to get Sher released from jail.

“That's my first and foremost focus, to get him out on bail,” he said. "Once we have him out on bail then we will deal with the balance of the Crown's concerns if there are any."

He said Sher seems to be doing OK despite the circumstances.

Farooq said he saw his client's Canadian Idol audition and joked that he needs more practice. He said his client is a funny guy who spoke with a fake accent as a joke during the audition.

“He’s more of a comedian than anything else.”

With files from Meghan Hurley

Friday, August 27, 2010


*** A great article. As usual. MS ***


There is endless fodder for jokes, from the RCMP’s name for the investigation — Project Samosa — to speculation about the doctor-terrorism-suspect moonwalking into court.

The arrests this week of four men police say were involved in a bomb plot — or in the words of one investigator, were hoping to bring the war in Afghanistan here — seem both chilling and ridiculous.

While none of the allegations has been proven in court, even trying to fathom that 28-year-old pathologist and failed Canadian Idol contestant Dr. Khurram Sher could be part of a terrorism conspiracy is difficult.

Soon after Sher’s arrest early Thursday, a YouTube clip of him awkwardly singing and dancing across a Montreal stage for the reality show aired around the world.

But those who study or investigate what police common refer to as “homegrown terrorism” caution against dismissing cases that appear too absurd to be true.

“On the surface, it appears completely counterintuitive. It appears these people have bought into the Canadian or Western dream, or whatever you call it,” said Michael King, a McGill University PhD student researching the psychology of radicalization.

“But for me, as a psychologist anyway researching this, it almost makes sense, because there seems to be a personality characteristic that predisposes people to radicalize — and that is sensation-seeking.”

That certainly was true for some of the young Muslim men who had been romanced by the idea of waging a holy war at home and were recently convicted in the case of the so-called Toronto 18.

A psychiatric report for ringleader Zakaria Amara noted that his spiritual ideal of jihad “stagnated, hardened and sank into self-aggrandizing bravado. The daily drudgery of working in dead-end, low-paying jobs helped create an intellectually stunted environment. Internet jihad videos became more exciting and their causes more urgent.”

It is too early yet to get a clear picture of Sher (friends say he auditioned for Canadian Idol as a joke), or know his alleged level of involvement in the plot, or if there is evidence to support police claims.

But whatever the outcome in this case, terrorism’s theatre of the absurd does not seem that uncommon anymore.

Consider the recent release of the English magazine from a Yemen-based group. Called Inspire, the slick 67-page magazine from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is like a terrorist’s Cosmopolitan with helpful hints on how to encrypt messages, environmental tips from Osama bin Laden, and from Al Qaeda’s “chef,” a feature entitled, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom.”

Ridiculous, of course, but AQAP is now considered one of the most influential Al Qaeda affiliates and claimed they trained the so-called underwear bomber who nearly brought down a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day.

Since AQAP’s membership is largely Yemen-based, Arabic-speaking and with presumably little access to the Internet, the group is likely trying to reach out to a wider circle of Western recruits with their magazine.

Gavin Cameron, a University of Calgary political science professor and past president of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies, says the magazine is an example of the “filtration” process for recruitment — something commonly used by terrorist groups.

“It’s basically how you build or sustain a belief community. You draw people in, you have lots of articles to further your perspective in a relatively mainstream way,” he said. (MS: Wow, sounds just like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck)

“The next stage of the filtration process is maybe now a little more extreme, so you’re winnowing down the group.”

How to stop that process of recruitment or radicalization is what still confounds security officials and community leaders. Some point to the media's coverage of the terrorism cases as part of the problem.

Imam Hamid Slimi, Chair of the Canadian Council of Imams, says he would like to see the end of what he calls the “demonization of Muslims.”

“Unfortunately, when a man is arrested with a machete and chainsaw on the highway in Toronto it’s not called terrorism . . . but when a Muslim person does something it’s Islam, it’s terrorism,” he said.

Two weeks ago the Canadian Council of Imams issued a one-page declaration stating that human life is more sacred than religious law. It’s the first time the Muslim leaders of a country have signed such a declaration and while it garnered much international attention, Slimi said it received little coverage in Canada. (Absolutely right on point. Another example: a 600-page fatwa against terror only get a headline - it should be published and made available widely)

“It’s only the bad news that’s covered,” he said.

King agreed that much of what seems to radicalize is the perception of a war against Islam.

“That’s a hard narrative to fight right now,” he says. “We have boots on the ground in Afghanistan, the West invaded Iraq, we didn’t recognize the elected government in Palestine. How do we fight this narrative?”

King said news reports that glorify or sensationalize terrorist plots only helps to recruit others.

“The media might play a role in helping radicalize others by taking these goofy cases and using words like operatives, ‘covertly trying to do this, or that,’ adding a more serious, sinister, cool, more glamorized image.”

The best way to fight it, he suggest, is to satirize it.

“I personally don’t think we can fight this narrative . . . instead, make them look like idiots.” (MS: Notwithstanding their amazing ability to do quite a good job of them all by themselves. Families not laughing. Community is not laughing. )


*** BOTH sides - government and community need to work together. No one side can do it alone.

And again as a reminder, Muslims have done plenty to oppose terrorism: Toronto 18 had TWO Muslim agents, Somali community reported the problems with Al Shabab, one fatwa last year, one declaration last WEEK, and one 600-page edict from a major powerhouse scholar, Dr. Tahir al Qadri. Muslims ARE doing quite a bit but I AGREE more can be done.

Government also has quite a bit to do. MS ***

Original title: Terror allegations greeted by shock, disbelief in Muslim community

Oh no, not again.

That was the first thought that went through Alia Hogben’s head after she heard about the arrest of three men in yet another alleged homegrown terror plot this week.

“It’s very shocking and it’s very sad,” said Hogben, executive director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. “You wonder what goes on in people’s minds who do these things.”

“I hope the vast majority of Canadians understand that majority of Muslims are just as appalled, shocked and disturbed as they are.”

The Muslim community has increasingly come under scrutiny since 9/11, most recently in 2006 after the arrest of the so-called Toronto 18. Now, once again, ordinary Muslims are in the spotlight as they struggle to come to terms with the arrests.

“Like other Canadians, I went through a series of emotions from disbelief, dismay, despondency, to even some anger that, should these charges prove to be true, how and why could these individuals have possibly been involved in something like this — especially after the events of the so-called Toronto 18?” said Ihsaan Gardee, the executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations in an email on Friday.

To many Muslims, the arrests of seemingly normal Canadian Muslims — fathers, a doctor and a medical technician — are doubly troubling: they not only put every Muslim under scrutiny from those outside the community, but also create suspicion of each other from within.

The uncle of Khurram Sher, the Canadian-born doctor who was charged with conspiring to facilitate a terrorist activity, echoed such feelings when speaking to media Wednesday.

“These days, frankly speaking, you cannot even trust your brother or sister. The world is getting nasty,” he said.

And there’s some evidence that it may get worse for the community before it gets better. Since the arrests, there have been online posts of a few isolated incidents of verbal attacks and harassment of Muslims across the GTA.

On Thursday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews appealed to Canadian and immigrants again to track and report suspicious actions or individuals. Community leaders say incidents of self-reporting have increased as extremism has become more of a reality.

“At the time of Toronto 18, there was a denial at the time about this (extremism) being a problem,” said Gardee, who attended a meeting with RCMP and Ottawa police on Thursday to discuss ways of increasing internal vigilance. “But I think now people know this is something we all need to be part of to find a solution.”

But acknowledgement of the problem leads to even more challenging questions for the Muslim leadership: how do you quell homegrown terror? And why is it happening in the first place?

“Just as there is no single path that leads someone from being a normal and positive contributing member of society to becoming a terrorism suspect, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all solution’ to the problem,” said Gardee.

He believes there needs to be more denunciation of extremism from religious leaders, increased community discussion on extremists and efforts to enhance civic engagement of Muslims in the mainstream as a start.

But despite feelings of anger and concern, most Muslim groups say there is an unwavering faith in the rule of law and due process — and a belief that perhaps it is only through the courts that the motives of the accused will be revealed and truly understood.


If any comfort can come out of the raid in Ottawa, which took down an alleged domestic terrorism cell, it's that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) may have finally found its stride.

It's closing in on elite status.

Finally, it can put behind the dysfunction of its Air India investigation of 25 years ago when CSIS, in its infancy, didn't share information (/informants - MS) with the RCMP, and the RCMP reciprocated with equal contempt.

Now it is gaining some stature.

Some international credibility.

With its success in the detection of the Toronto 18, and its role in the takedown in Ottawa of yet another alleged homegrown terrorist operation by integrated police forces led by the RCMP, it can be almost be spoken in the same breath as Britain's MI6. (MI-6 is international, MI-5 domestic, like CSIS)

This is no small feat.

CSIS and the RCMP are now on the same page, which bodes well for our security and the global war on terrorism. After all, there are snakes in every rock pile.

Back in May, CSIS director Dick Fadden told a Commons committee his spies were monitoring 200 such rock piles in Canada, one of them obviously being Operation Samosa, which now has three men linked to al-Qaida under arrest, including a 2008 Canadian Idol reject who savagely butchered an Avril Lavigne tune.

It's Complicated -- the song, as well as this scenario.

But do not immediately dismiss this Idol clown as some fumbling incompetent. If you do, do so at your peril.

As Fadden put it, "Accused terrorists are routinely portrayed as being too unsophisticated, ill-prepared or youthful to actually commit heinous acts.

"This theme permeated coverage of those charged in the Toronto plot," he added. "Some terrorists are, like those many spy novels, enormously resourceful and talented. Others are simply determined, but fairly average foot soldiers."

Fadden then cited Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. While he was not a particularly gifted individual, said Fadden, his 1995 actions nonetheless killed 168 people, injured almost 700, and damaged more than 300 buildings within a 16-block radius.

In other words, just because someone can't sing, doesn't mean he cannot set off an IED detonator.

The song may have been Complicated.

But bombs aren't.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


*** 7 of the Toronto 18 had their charges STAYED not dropped, not acquited, not found innocent. Fact is, they did a bit of time in jail, learned their lesson (we hope) and were let go. And YES, Muslims have roundly condemned terrorism - again and again - not to mention it was 2 Muslim agents that busted the T18 group up. MS ***

The “Toronto 18” conspiracy may have been Canada’s first major homegrown terror threat after 9/11, but if police are to be believed it is far from being the last.

While some worry about being targeted by “foreign” terrorists linked to Al Qaeda or other extremist groups, we can hardly afford to be complacent about perils close at hand. Three more Canadians now stand accused of plotting bombings in Ottawa. And the fact that one of them appears, bizarrely, to have been involved in a goofy song-and-dance act on Canadian Idol hardly detracts from the gravity of the charges.

The RCMP reported yesterday that police had been watching the trio’s network for a year and swooped down on them Wednesday. That prevented them from sending money to conspirators abroad for weapons to use against Canadian troops and allies in Afghanistan. It also prevented them from leaving the country, and from building bombs and staging attacks on the nation’s capital. Rightly, police put public safety first by acting when they did.

Charged with conspiracy to facilitate terrorism and other offences are Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, and Khurram Syed Sher, 28. All are Canadian citizens. Police say they conspired with other Canadians who are currently abroad in a plot that spanned Canada, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Dubai. Police found 50 electronic circuit boards designed to detonate Afghan-style improvised explosive device (IED) bombs, plus schematics, videos, books and other material on building bombs. Alizadeh, they said, is a member of a terror group with links to the Afghan conflict.

However these charges play out in court (and let’s bear in mind that of the Toronto 18, only 11 were convicted), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP and other forces deserve credit for working together effectively. Lessons seem to have been learned from past botched investigations, including the Air India probe.

This case has left prominent community figures such as Salma Siddiqui of the Muslim Canadian Congress voicing concern that the perverse “doctrine of jihad” still appeals to some. But it’s a fact, too, that spiritual leaders of the country’s 650,000 Muslims have denounced jihadist violence as incompatible with Islamic values.

Muslim clerics in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other centres rang in the New Year with a forceful fatwa, or religious ruling, denouncing attacks on Canada and the United States as an assault on the freedom of the millions of Muslims who have made their homes here. The fatwa reminded the faithful that they are morally obliged to condemn and expose those who plot violence against this tolerance.

Raised Muslim voices are a vital element in thwarting jihadist terror, along with good policing and vigilant courts.


*** They have not spoken to a single Muslim leader or even a Muslim expert on terrorism and radicalization - in fact, I think they are plagiarizing from some information that was given to them a couple of years ago (waiting for confirmation) in which I was involved.

On top of that the RCMP is doing its own thing and CSIS is doing its own thing. And how many millions of dollars is this costing? I could devise a program for HALF the cost in HALF the time - and they know it but hey, what would I know? MS ***

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on Thursday applauded the co-ordinated efforts of police and intelligence forces who say they foiled an Ottawa-based terror plot, but said the incident underscores the burgeoning threat of homegrown terrorism.

"There is a growing concern about radicalization inside Canada — so that is, homegrown terrorism," said Toews. "That is a phenomena that we have seen in many Western democracies, and it's a relatively new phenomena that we must be very vigilant about."

Toews called on Canadians to stand up against terrorist threats, suggesting leaders from various communities in Canada should approach the government if they have information that threatens public safety. (MS: Sure, just as long as you give the community credit for helping you instead of taking the information and then leaving the community to suffer accusations of "you're not doing enough")

The co-ordination between the RCMP, CSIS and various police groups during the yearlong Project Samossa investigation, which resulted in the arrests this week of two Ottawa men and another from St. Thomas, Ont., was quickly praised by experts, who said the arrests were a success and proved the lessons learned in the intelligence community from Air India.

However, former CSIS senior manager Michel Juneau-Katsuya said Canada has a lot of work to do when it comes to building diplomacy around the world.

"Is it on the grand scale, the big picture, a great success? It's a temporary success," he said.

"If we don't go to the root cause of terrorism, we're still going to have more guys who are going to be pissed at us, and will succeed one day," said Juneau-Katsuya, a criminal-intelligence expert for 30 years.

Canada also lacks a national counter-radicalization strategy, although a senior RCMP officer says discussions are underway.

"It's not in place yet," Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, head of National Security Criminal Investigations, said recently, before this weeks arrests in Ottawa.

"Right now it's very piecemeal. Ourselves, we're doing something, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is doing something. But it's broader than that." (MS: Yes, they have ignored everything I have conveyed to them on this subject. They think they know best - typical RCMP attitude)

Interviews with officials and de-classified documents indicate that counter-terrorism agencies have been fighting a behind-the-scenes battle to identify Canadians who are radicalizing and, in some cases, taking steps to intervene.

When investigators suspect a Canadian is preparing to travel overseas for training or to join a terrorist group such as Al-Shabab in Somalia, for example, they have been conducting interventions. That may involve visiting the person or, if they are young, breaking the news to their parents.

The government has also been funding academic research on radicalization and studying what other countries are doing.

But Mubin Shaikh, who worked as an undercover CSIS and RCMP agent during the Toronto 18 terror investigation, said if a national strategy is in the works, the Muslim community had not been informed.

"Exactly who are they developing this in conjunction with? There is not a single Muslim leader that they have spoken with (that I know of)," he said. "If the program does not have legitimacy with the masses, it will be worthless and useless."

Meanwhile, a declassified CSIS report released under the Access to Information Act concludes there is no single "best strategy" for fighting radicalization and that regardless of efforts to stop them, some will still become terrorists.

The three men arrested are accused of conspiring with others in Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan to build improvised explosive devices for attacks in Canada and to raise money to fund IED attacks on Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

While officials were mum on potential targets, Juneau-Katsuya said al-Qaida "likes to hit icons," such as the Parliament buildings.

An RCMP spokesman said the accused had IED parts, including more than 50 circuit boards that could be used to remotely detonate bombs, but wouldn't say if the group had explosives.

The investigation was intended to prevent the use of the IEDs against coalition forces and Canadian troops, said RCMP Chief Supt. Serge Therriault.

Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, from Ottawa, are charged, along with Khurram Syed Sher, 28, of London, Ont.

The charges allege they conspired with three other people — identified as James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta — and other "persons unknown" to facilitate "terrorist activity" between February 2008 and Aug. 24 of this year.

Alizadeh also faces charges in relation to making an explosive device and funding a terrorist group.

With files from Ottawa Citizen
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Homegrown+terror+threat+rise+Toews/3446864/story.html#ixzz0xmF2v1HB

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


*** Yet, the RCMP thinks it can deal with this without the Muslim community. Interesting. MS ***

OTTAWA -- He lived in a quiet townhouse in Ottawa, with a Mazda parked in the driveway. Neighbors could think of nothing unusual about about him.

The terror suspects arrested in Ottawa this morning are being described as ordinary Canadians who were allegedly attracted to al-Qaeda’s message of violence.

The case suggests that four years after the RCMP and CSIS broke up the Toronto 18, Canada is still confronting similar groups of extremists who support al-Qaeda.

This “homegrown Islamist extremism,” as CSIS refers to it, is Canada’s number one terrorist threat, according to senior intelligence and law enforcement officials.

“Right now we’re seeing a trend around what you would call the homegrown type of terrorism,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud said in a recent interview.

“Young Canadians are being radicalized to an extremist ideology and want to support that ideology with violence,” said A. Comm. Michaud, the head of National Security Criminal Investigations.

Early on Wednesday, the RCMP and Ottawa Police Service broke up an alleged Ottawa terrorist group with suspected affiliations to al-Qaeda. The ringleader had alleged trained in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region.

More details were expected at a news conference on Thursday. The suspects appear to have similar backgrounds to the Toronto 18, young Canadians who plotted attacks in southern Ontario, suggesting homegrown radicalization remains a problem for Canada.

“It’s not diminishing,” said Michael King, a McGill University PhD student who has been researching radicalization. “It seems like it’s either keeping constant or increasing, so I would agree that its’ definitely a big problem.”

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in an Aug. 9 speech that radicalization and the movement of Canadians to overseas training camps were increasing concerns. “These individuals reject the values on which our country is based, and they must be stopped,” he said.

But it is not a simple task.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates are ardent propagandists. They use the Internet to promote their dark ideology, which revolves around the belief that there is a Western conspiracy against Islam and that terrorism is justified both to defend the religion and impose it on non-Muslims.

“We don’t have an issue with anybody that has extremist views,” A. Comm. Michaud said. “But it does become criminal when somebody wants to use violence to support those views, so that is one of the threats that we’re seeing more and more.”

Experts and officials said homegrown extremists are now becoming radicalized mostly on the Internet. They may then make their own way to overseas training camps.

At those camps, al-Qaeda and its affiliates are apparently encouraging Western recruits to return to their home countries to carry out attacks. They are not given specific missions or targets but are told to strike when opportunity arises.

“It’s self-radicalization basically and the Internet plays a big part in that process,” A. Comm. Michaud said. “Self-radicalization and then taking the steps that they need in order to join whatever group that they feel they should affiliate with.”

Police and intelligence officers are monitoring Canadians they suspect are training in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The main concern is that they will return to Canada to conduct terrorist operations.

“That they would go and receive training in terrorist tactics is our first concern,” the assistant commissioner said. “But then the second one is, what do they do once they receive this training?

“To use it overseas against allied countries is one thing. But also if ever they were to come back to Canada, then we find individuals that have that capacity to use those skills on our soil. So that is definitely a major concern.”

Some extremists are candid about their views. Salman Hossain, a self-professed extremist Muslim from Mississauga, Ont., repeatedly posted messages on his website calling for terrorist attacks in Canada. But most are more secretive, using code words to chat about getting “married,” a term for martyred.

Homegrown radicalization became a concern for Canada when Mohamed Jabarah of St. Catharines was arrested in 2002 after he joined al-Qaeda and attempted to bomb the U.S. embassy in Singapore. In 2004, Ottawa-born Momin Khawaja was arrested over his role in a British terror group that plotted attacks around London.

A classified 2007 CSIS study said the causes of radicalization varied but included the influence of family and charismatic spiritual leaders, overseas travel, conversion and anger at the perceived oppression of Muslims.

“Once the radicalization process has begun, individuals start to find diverse ways to develop their extremist beliefs in Canada,” the study says. “They do so through a variety of networks, both real and virtual.

“These individuals appear to be part of Western society,” it adds. “In fact, they appear so Canadian that they are difficult to detect. Such individuals then move on to a series of radical activities, ranging from propaganda and recruiting, to terrorist training and participation in extremist operations.”

A recent report by the Demos research group, co-authored by Mr. King and funded partly by Canada, found that the terrorists had experienced social exclusion, felt disconnected from their community, had undergone some kind of identity crisis and had a relatively shallow understanding of the Islamic religion.

An increasing part of al-Qaeda’s appeal in the West is its “dangerous, romantic and counter-cultural characteristics,” the paper said, adding it was crucial to de-glamorize al-Qaeda by highlighting its obvious flaws and even satirizing it.

“There’s a sensation-seeking component to it,” said Mr. King, a psychologist. “I mean how cool is it to go with some other guys and have secret messages, try and acquire some illegal materials for a cause that is portrayed as ultimate justice,” he said.

He said terrorist groups are doing a good job of marketing their cause to large numbers on the Internet. Through luck and timing, some are responding to that messaging, although the overall numbers remain relatively small.

“It’s a real combination of factors. They’re meeting the wrong people at the wrong time, there’s nothing else in their life probably that they feel is more important that would keep them back from doing this. And they’re guys that really enjoy doing stuff that’s high intensity.”

National Post


Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Homegrown+Canadian+terrorists+they+lured/3442201/story.html#ixzz0xevYtaAE


*** Denouncing armed jihad will NOT prevent criminal extremism - counter radicalization programs WILL but nothing will eliminate it totally. This is a real Long War. MS ***

Canadian Muslim leaders were variously stunned, outraged and wary at news from Ottawa on Wednesday that the RCMP had broken up an alleged terrorism cell with suspected links to al-Qaeda.

Few details were released about the people rounded up in the bust, but they are suspected of planning a terrorist attack in the country, and authorities anticipate more arrests.

“It’s sad to hear such news. It’s disturbing,” said Imam Habeeb Alli, secretary of the Canadian Council of Imams. “It’s very disturbing, and I hope the proper wheels of justice will be set in motion to ensure we get to the bottom of the story.”

The Muslim Canadian Congress expressed “shock” at the developments, but also commended RCMP for the operation.

“Thank God these men were stopped before they could carry out their alleged plot,” said vice-president Salma Siddiqui.

The organization warned, however, that until Canada’s Muslim leadership unequivocally denounces the doctrine of armed jihad, Wednesday's terrorism arrests will not be the last. Radical figures are becoming “heroes,” Ms. Siddiqui said, and leaders in the Muslim community have a duty to diminish them.

“It’s more of an anger and a frustration,” she said of her reaction to Wednesday's arrests, “because it shouldn’t happen. This has got to stop.”

The Ottawa case is considered the most significant counterterrorism operation in Canada since the 2006 Toronto 18 arrests, which saw a group of young men rounded up for plotting to storm Parliament and decimate blocks of downtown Toronto with powerful truck bombs.

When the Toronto 18 sweep first grabbed headlines four years ago, it was greeted with a combination of outrage and denial, with some members of the Muslim community viewing the suspects as wrongfully persecuted heroes, and others taking the opportunity to warn of the rising threat of homegrown terrorism.

The ringleader in the Ottawa case allegedly attended training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan; similarly, in the Toronto 18 case, ringleader Fahim Ahmad was linked with a network of extremists stretching from Canada and the United States to Pakistan and the Balkans.

Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, said yesterday’s arrests felt like “deja vu,” and blasted mosque leadership for failing to recognize the legitimate threat of homegrown extremism, even after a series of convictions in the Toronto 18 case. The mosque establishment, Mr. Fatah suggested, “keeps on saying that everything is safe, but it isn’t.”

Mr. Alli says Islamic leaders are constantly concerned about the threat of radicalization, and work to engage youths “in a constructive way.” But Scarborough imam Aly Hindy — who still believes too many people were rounded up the Toronto 18 case, and most meant no harm to Canadians — derides the “so-called war against terrorism,” suggesting the threat is largely exaggerated.

“We don’t have this feeling of any danger. We feel very safe,” he said.

Some said Wednesday's arrests, though they came without warning, were actually no surprise — including Mubin Shaikh, the police agent who helped to dismantle the Toronto 18 cell and is now studying counter terrorism through a school in Australia.

“The trajectory toward radicalization is on an incline. It’s just going to get worse,” he said, calling for more government funds to address the issue. “There is no political will to engage the communities with any meaningful counter-radicalization program, and in the absence of such, these kinds of arrests will be inevitable.

“And these are just the people getting caught,” Mr. Shaikh added. “They’ll get smarter.”

National Post


Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Canadian+Muslim+leaders+shocked+Ottawa+arrests/3442567/story.html#ixzz0xeplNhPK


*** Standard kudos to all involved. Yet another proof that radicalization is increasing - question is: is there a plan? I have yet to see one. MS ***

OTTAWA — The RCMP dismantled an alleged Ottawa terrorist cell with suspected links to al-Qaeda on Wednesday morning, making two arrests in the nation’s capital without incident.

The men are suspected of preparing a terrorist attack targeting Canada. The ringleader allegedly attended training camps in the Pakistan and Afghanistan region.

But the bomb plot was described as not well defined and the arrests were apparently made on Wednesday because one of the suspects was preparing to travel abroad.

A news conference has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The RCMP, Ottawa Police Service and Canadian Security Intelligence Service were involved in the operation.

“At approximately 8:00 this morning, “A” Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (A-INSET) investigators arrested two Ottawa residents in relation to terrorist offences,” the RCMP said in a news release on Wednesday afternoon.

“Search warrants are being executed in order to secure additional evidence. More arrests are anticipated.”

The suspects have not been named publicly.

The case is considered the most significant counter-terrorism operation in Canada since Project Osage, the 2006 arrests of the Toronto 18, young al-Qaeda-inspired extremists who plotted attacks in southern Ontario.

Although police have released little information on Wednesday, the case appears to fit the pattern of so-called homegrown terrorists, the term for Canadians who have become radicalized and adopted the al-Qaeda ideology.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews could not be reached for comment but a Public Safety spokesman said on Wednesday morning “the government of Canada recognizes that violent extremism and radicalization pose a serious threat to Canada’s national security.

“The government continues to participate in activities to better understand extremism throughout the world and the motivations of individuals who engage in terrorism,” David Charbonneau said. (MS: Just not involving the Muslim community of course.)

Coming on the heels of the failed Times Square bombing and the Fort Hood shooting, the alleged plot could be the latest attempt by remnants and affiliates of al-Qaeda to use Western recruits to strike inside North America.

“There is substantial evidence from cases in the U.K. and the E.U. that various so-called homegrown groups do demonstrate a connection to an al-Qaeda centre in areas of doctrine, strategy, tactics and target selection,” said Prof. Martin Rudner, a Carleton University terrorism expert.

In a speech in Toronto on Aug. 9, when he would have already been briefed on the suspected Ottawa group, Minister Toews said he was increasingly concerned about the radicalization taking place in Canada.

“There are homegrown Islamists and other extremists here in Canada,” he said. “In this country, it is the right of all Canadians to hold and discuss a wide range of beliefs.

“But what we are seeing here is not about disagreement and debate. Our concern is with extremist ideologies that lead individuals to espouse or engage in violence. These individuals reject the values on which our country is based, and they must be stopped.” (MS: And how do you propose to do that without engaging the Muslim community sir?)

He said indoctrination and radicalization were occurring partly on the Internet and the speed at which they were radicalizing was proving a challenge for police and intelligence agencies. (MS: Some of these nutjobs are just not deterred by police activity - like the Toronto 18 - you need to be PROactive not REactive. Believe me, they will adapt.)

“While only a small fraction of a percentage of our population is engaged in activities that pose a security threat, we need to thwart such threats before they can be carried out,” he said.

National Post


Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/RCMP+dismantle+alleged+Ottawa+terrorist+cell/3441688/story.html#ixzz0xdtiQPyT

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


*** CSIS and the RCMP have a LONG way to go in repairing relations with the communities they need so badly. MS ***

WINNIPEG (CBC) - A Montreal man involved in organizing a humanitarian aid boat to Gaza says he has received unwelcome attention from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Ehab Lotayef, an information-technology engineer at McGill University, is a member of Canadian Boat to Gaza, a non-profit group challenging Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory by organizing the delivery of supplies and other aid this fall.

Israel has maintained a blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since 2007, saying it wants to keep weapons out of the hands of the Palestinian militant Islamist movement governing the Middle Eastern territory.

Lotayef has already visited Gaza twice since the blockade started and has been vocal in his support for the Palestinian cause.

But he says he never had any contact with Canadian intelligence officers or CSIS until this month, when two agents dropped by his Montreal apartment.

"I was actually at work, and my wife called me and told me that two CSIS agents came to the door and asked for me," Lotayef told CBC in an exclusive interview.

The agents left a business card with a 514 area-code phone number, but Lotayef said he ignored the visit and didn't call.

"The first thing that comes to mind is that visit, that type of visit, is to intimidate us from going [to Gaza]," he said.

After the agents paid his wife a second visit three days later, Lotayef contacted the agents. He said they told him they were concerned about his safety and wanted to ensure he didn't get involved with people who could jeopardize the legitimacy of his projects.

Lotayef said he told the agents to leave him alone.

"We might be ready to communicate with community [liaisons] police, stuff like that," he said. "But with CSIS as an intelligence agency gathering information and I don't trust their motives, I don't trust their way of action I wouldn't be comfortable under any level communicating with them."

Lotayef is within his right to refuse to co-operate, said constitutional lawyer Julius Grey.

"You can say, 'This conversation is finished. I'm in my house, please leave,'" said the Montreal-based civil rights expert. "They have to leave. They have no right to be trespassers in your house."

When contacted by CBC, CSIS said security concerns prohibit the agency from confirming it tried to meet Lotayef. But the Ottawa-based intelligence service said it has the right to speak with anyone who may have information it deems of interest.

Ships challenging the Israeli Gaza blockade have drawn international attention in recent months.

In May, Israeli commandos stormed a flotilla in international waters after the ships declared they were delivering humanitarian aid. In a violent confrontation, nine activists were killed and hundreds arrested, including several Canadians.

Israel and the UN are conducting separate investigations into the flotilla raid.

Monday, August 23, 2010


*** What else is new. MS ***


VICTORIA - The RCMP is facing criticism in the wake of a scathing Vancouver Police Department report detailing investigative missteps on the hunt for serial killer Robert Pickton.

A British Columbia criminologist and former London police officer said Mounties are trained to believe they are Canada's top cops, while considering other provincial and municipal officers as below standard.

"There's long been tensions between the RCMP and municipal police services," said Rob Gordon of Simon Fraser University. "The RCMP know all, cannot be told anything, and they're the ones alone who stand between chaos and civilized society."

He pointed to deep-rooted RCMP arrogance on the Pickton investigation, where Mounties and Vancouver police officers withheld information from each other about women who'd been reported missing from the Downtown Eastside since the mid- to late 1990s.

Pickton's crimes came to light only when a rookie Mountie showed up looking for weapons on the former pig farmer's sprawling suburban Port Coquitlam property in 2002.

"There's ample evidence to indicate that the RCMP does not play well with others and most certainly was not playing well with others in relation to the Pickton matter," said Gordon.

The Vancouver police report, authored by Deputy Chief Const. Doug LePard, said both its own department and the RCMP are to blame for errors made during the investigation.

Thirteen women disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside after the city's police force first forwarded information about Pickton to the RCMP, according the police review.

The 400-page document said mistakes prevented police from arresting Pickton until 2002 — years after officers first started looking at Pickton as they investigated reports of missing sex workers — but that he could have been caught earlier.

RCMP haven't commented on LePard's report, saying they need to read it first, but have already stated they disagree with some of its conclusions.

Gordon noted other examples of RCMP problems were highlighted in the recent Air India inquiry report, which criticized the Mounties for fighting turf wars with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service during the investigation into twin Air India bombings in 1985, killing a total of 331 people.

Gordon said Mounties have also caused problems with the various Vancouver-area combined police teams fighting gang violence.

He said a Vancouver police biker gang expert was drummed out of his post in a combined RCMP municipal team by the Mounties.

"He was a sergeant with the VPD, been a project leader, and ran into all kinds of difficulty," he said. "The guy was an expert, but was treated very poorly by his RCMP colleagues."

Former Vancouver police officer Doug MacKay-Dunn, who served in the Downtown Eastside and retired in 2001 after 31 years of service, said he encountered difficulties working with Mounties.

"At that point, the RCMP didn't necessarily get along that well with other organizations," he said. "They didn't like being told what to do. They were Canada's national force and they considered themselves the cream of the cream. They figured they were the best of the best."

MacKay-Dunn, now a councillor in the District of North Vancouver, said he was one of the first officers to believe a serial killer could be responsible for the disappearances of dozens of women from the Downtown Eastside.

He said he consistently encountered resistance from RCMP brass throughout his career, but rank-and-file officers from all forces seemed to get along.

But MacKay-Dunn and Gordon both agree that the RCMP should not have its current 20-year service contract in British Columbia renewed.

The current RCMP contract in British Columbia expires in 2012.

"Absolutely, don't do it," MacKay-Dunn said.

Gordon called the RCMP a broken organization, and trying to change the Mounties would be like "bending granite."

He warned the current Liberal government against signing any new contract with the Mounties.

"If they are going for another 20 years and the province signs off on it, the current government deserves to fall," Gordon said.

The RCMP launched a massive search on Pickton's farm in 2002, uncovering the remains or DNA of 33 women. He was charged with 27 counts of murder and eventually convicted in the murders of six women.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


*** The good ol boys in the RCMP and the Conservative Tea Party of Canada have single-handedly ruined the good name of this great institution and laid waste to hopes of a meaningful relationship with the Muslim community - especially in areas regarding national security. In doing so, they make us less safe. MS ***

A federal court has ruled racism was the motive behind the 1999 termination of a Muslim trainee, opening the door for the former cadet to rejoin the RCMP.

“I can’t wait to get back into the RCMP,” Ali Tahmourpour said. “I can’t let the acts of one or two instructors become indicative of the behaviour of the organization altogether.”

His lawyer, Paul Champ detailed some of the racist acts his client was subjected to while training in Regina. “Ali signs his name from right to left in the traditional Persian way. One instructor said, ‘What kind of f----g language is that?’ The instructor claimed during the tribunal that he was just curious about languages.”

Champ said his client, a Mississauga resident, was also the subject of racist jokes and taunts routinely made by his instructors in the late 1990s.

Shortly after Tahmourpour wrote a nine-page letter of complaint to a senior officer he was dismissed, 14 weeks into the 22-week training period, and told he could not enrol again.

Tahmourpour took his case to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and a tribunal decided in his favour in 2008. The RCMP challenged the ruling.

The Federal Court of Appeal stated in the decision released Monday: “[A]n instructor named Corporal Boyer discriminated against Mr. Tahmourpour by swearing at him and ridiculing him for signing his name in the Persian style, and by being especially verbally abusive and hostile toward him . . . the fact that racist jokes made during the sensitivity training at the Depot were condoned by the instructors made Mr. Tahmourpour feel vulnerable to racism . . . many of Mr. Tahmourpour’s performance reviews were fabricated and influenced by discriminatory attitudes . . . a memorandum in Mr. Tahmourpour’s file stating that he was not to be considered for re-enrolment due to his alleged unstable mental condition, although he had never seen the staff psychologist, amounted to discrimination.”

The decision included two years compensation for lost wages, but the appeals court is referring the matter back to the tribunal which had ruled Tahmourpour should receive nine years of lost wages. The RCMP has paid him the $33,000 in damages for pain and suffering and expenses that the Tribunal ordered.

An RCMP spokesperson said the force isn’t in a position to comment at this point as it’s still reviewing the case.

Since his dismissal from the RCMP, Tahmourpour has worked as a real estate agent in Mississauga. Chasing after his two-year-old has helped him stay fit, and he said he’s ready to go back to the force immediately. “I come from a multi-generational police family in Iran. This is what I want to be doing. My great-grandfather did it.”

When asked how he could reconcile working for an organization that, despite overwhelming evidence of systemic racism, fought to keep Tahmourpour out, he said: “It’s obviously worrisome. But maybe I can be a part of the solution. I hope the RCMP sees me as an asset to correct some of its mistakes.” (MS: Don't hold your breath sir.)

Champ, who has represented other RCMP staff who have accused the force of racism, said the case is an example of the RCMP’s notorious “Blue Wall.”

“The RCMP leadership is very wedded to its reputation. They would rather bury problems than deal with them. I hope the RCMP learned from this case.” (MS: Don't your hold your breath either sir.)

But when asked if he expects another appeal Champ said, “They could take it to the Supreme Court.”

Tahmourpour said it wouldn’t matter. “I can be a part of the future of the RCMP, to be an institution we can all be proud of.”

Ali Tahmourpour says he “can’t wait to get back into the RCMP” after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled Monday (July 19, 2010) in his favour, opening the door for the former cadet to rejoin the force. (April 16, 2008)

Ali Tahmourpour says he “can’t wait to get back into the RCMP” after the Federal Court of Appeal ruled Monday (July 19, 2010) in his favour, opening the door for the former cadet to rejoin the force. (April 16, 2008)


*** Lack of political will. Simple as that. MS ***


OTTAWA - New legislation still doesn't give the RCMP watchdog the bite it needs to fully investigate scandals like the Maher Arar affair, says the organization's former chairman.

A long-awaited bill intended to modernize the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP gives the top Mountie and Public Safety minister too much room to meddle in sensitive probes, Paul Kennedy said in an interview.

Bill C-38, tabled in June, would give the complaints commissioner only limited access to the information he needs to see, said Kennedy, chairman of the body for four years ending last December.

"With the current legislation, you wouldn't get through the door. The door is barred," he said.

"Now, you get through to the extent that the commissioner wants to let you through."

The current watchdog is widely seen as wanting because it does not have complete access to RCMP files and lacks the power to review or audit the force's programs and policies.

Kennedy, who also served five years as chief counsel for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the proposed model falls short of the powers held by watchdogs over CSIS and the Communications Security Establishment, the electronic eavesdropping agency.

"Although it's an improvement, I don't think it goes far enough."

The bill would see the watchdog renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Review and Complaints Commission, reflecting its new and somewhat broader responsibilities.

Still, Kennedy doesn't believe the legislation would allow the RCMP watchdog to delve deeply into a matter such as the Arar case involving highly classified files.

It took a full-blown federal inquiry led by Justice Dennis O'Connor to explore the role Canadian officials played in opening the door to Arar being brutalized in a grave-like Syrian cell after he was falsely accused of ties to terrorism.

O'Connor found the RCMP passed inaccurate and unfair information to the United States that likely led to Arar's arrest, deportation and ultimate torture.

Among the changes O'Connor called for more than three years ago was an overhaul of the RCMP complaints commission that would give it new powers to keep an eye on the Mounties' intelligence activities.

The bill tabled by the Conservatives would give the commission greater access to RCMP information and beef up its investigative arsenal, including the power to compel witnesses, evidence and materials.

It would also empower the body to do policy reviews, carry out probes with other review bodies and provide reports to provinces and territories where the force does front-line policing.

But Kennedy argues the legislation is so riddled with loopholes it doesn't meet O'Connor's standard.

The law would allow the public safety minister to "make regulations" concerning the watchdog's access to "privileged information" such as classified intelligence or material about clandestine operations.

Following such a refusal by the top Mountie, the minister may appoint a former judge to review the material and make recommendations to help settle the dispute — something Kennedy calls a "bizarre apparatus."

All of this could create real obstacles for the complaints commission, he said.

In the Arar file, for example, the commission would have trouble obtaining material in RCMP files from Syrian and American sources, Kennedy said. "You'd have a devil of a time getting to even see that."

The new law also lacks time limits for the RCMP to respond to the commission's interim reports. That's problematic because, in one case, Kennedy waited over 800 days for the Mounties to reply, delaying his final report.

"That is just an intolerable situation, that someone can frustrate the process so easily," he said.

Critics of the Harper government maintain Kennedy wasn't renewed as commission chairman because he was too tough on the force, taking a hard line on issues including what he considered excessive use of Taser stun guns.

The commission, now led by Ian McPhail, is studying the bill and plans to provide detailed comments to the Public Safety Department and the Commons public safety committee in coming weeks.

Kennedy says the bill's problems are fixable. "I think it can be done through some judicious surgery at committee."

He hopes MPs pass a stronger version of the legislation, because it'll likely be another generation before they get a chance to revisit RCMP oversight.

"You're not going to see this for another 20 years."

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Al Awlaki threat masks a deeper danger
by John Harrison and Kathryn Floyd
05:55 AM Aug 11, 2010

The public's sudden fascination with new jihadi celebrity Anwar Al Awlaki over the last several months has masked a longer term and more dangerous threat: The growing presence of credible, English-speaking jihadis.

There has been a concerted effort for several years by Al Qaeda and its supporters to attract individuals in non-Muslim majority countries, due to the fact that many potential supporters do not speak Urdu, Turkic or Bahasa, let alone Arabic. Given that many of the potential recruits spoke English, and the main language of the Internet is English, it was logical to develop a cyberspace presence that relied on this language.

Even so, prior to the Fort Hood shooting, Al Awlaki's name rarely appeared in the South-east Asian jihadist websites or forum. But after the massacre by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Al Awlaki's name spread like wildfire through the Arabic chatrooms and then the rest of the world's online community.

His rapid rise to prominence was the result of his ubiquitous presence in English on the Web and Facebook. With his carefully selected passages from the Quran, Al Awlaki's soundbites resonate with Arab, North American and South-east Asian Muslims alike.

This raises two troubling questions: First, does this mean that the only recently understood Arabic Web is being superseded by a largely unknown English extremist Internet? And second, is Al Awlaki a harbinger of a problem or the problem itself?

The first question depends on the information being provided. When one is looking for justification for a terrorist attack or an echo chamber to reverberate radical ideas, it would make sense to go straight to the source or global authority: Arabic Internet sites.

As more disgruntled individuals from Indonesia to New Jersey look to justify their actions, they will attempt to access the touchtone provided by the Arabic Web, but they will need easy access to the information. In this, the English voices are merely a convenient medium for radical ideas espoused by Middle Eastern extremists.

However, it is only a matter of time before original interpretations and ideas are offered by the English sites. Thus, a comprehensive strategy to deal with this emerging threat needs to be developed forthwith.


The answer to the second question is more clear. Al Awlaki is viewed as a credible source and mentor, as he translates existing ideas. But what may be rapidly emerging is Al Awlaki using his celebrity status to offer his own interpretations of ideas that will resonate with a non-Arabic audience.

South-east Asian extremist websites are already taking this course of offering their own interpretations, making it more difficult to challenge the jihadi narrative, as there is no longer one story, but a series of localised narratives that are easily understood, digested and transmitted by the Internet. Thus, as dangerous as Al Awlaki is, he is potentially only the visible tip of a much deeper problem.

Although Al Awlaki has skyrocketed onto the front pages of international newspapers, he commands a far less loyal and capable core following than the Al Qaeda leadership enjoys. However, if there is a void in the upper echelons and young chatroom participants are looking for a new icon, Al Awlaki will maintain his relevance as a reference source and sympathetic ear.

Thus, Al Awlaki's true threat is his ability to recruit isolated individuals, encourage and sanction operations, and offer easy-to-understand radical ideas to the masses. And given his rapid rise to prominence, he offers a path for others who want to assist the global struggle but may not want to actually fight.


The new picture of a jihadi is an English-speaking, celebrity ideologue, reaching out to a vulnerable mass audience. That said, it remains to be seen precisely how many vulnerable individuals have been mentored by Al Awlaki, received his electronic blessing for their devious and deadly actions, and are waiting to act.

In recent weeks, it has surfaced that two young men in different parts of the United States exchanged emails with Al Awlaki and underwent various stages of radicalisation, only to be intercepted by law enforcement personnel.

Aside from the lack of secure communication, one fatal weakness in Al Awlaki's influence is that it is so very public, and therefore capable of being monitored. Security officials may be able to guard against terrorism simply by listening and watching, then arresting, while learning how to pre-empt future apprentices of Al Awlaki's.

Al Awlaki may be able to control portions of cyberspace, but his homegrown quarters are quickly being limited.

John Harrison is an Assistant Professor at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Head of Terrorism Research at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. Kathryn Floyd is a PhD candidate at RSIS and covers the Middle East for ICPVTR.