Wednesday, September 1, 2010


In the same week that Corporal Brian Pinksen of Corner Brook, Nfld., was first gravely wounded in an improvised explosive device strike and then flown to the big U.S. hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, where doctors and nurses fought to save his life, the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team moved in to arrest members of what is essentially alleged to have been an IED-making cell in Canada.

Cpl. Pinksen, who was just 21, died of his injuries in hospital on Monday, the same day The Globe and Mail learned a little more about the alleged plans of the cell – that it was working on a three- to five-year timeline; that the three accused men voted to plot violence together; and that, as the supply of live circuit boards in a bedroom closet of Hiva Alizadeh’s Ottawa apartment was steadily growing, police agents were stealthily replacing the live boards with harmless replicas.

Such circuit boards are designed solely for remote detonation of IEDs such as the one that killed Cpl. Pinksen in the Panjwaii district near Kandahar.

The link has always been there, of course, but not since 9/11, when the world learned that the hijackers who flew planes into the Twin Towers had trained in Afghanistan terrorist camps, has it been quite so stark for Canada.

By my count, 90 of the 152 Canadian soldiers who have died in Afghanistan since 2002 were killed in IED blasts, which are sometimes described as roadside bombs. God knows how many dozens of others – the names of the wounded aren’t released as a matter of course by government or military – have been left without limbs or with other horrific injuries.

And now we have three more fellows – Mr. Alizadeh, Misbahuddin Ahmed, both of Ottawa, and Khurram Syed Sher of London, Ont. – accused of following in the glorious footsteps of the Toronto 18 (who became the Toronto 11 after charges against some were dropped, all 11 of whom pleaded guilty or were convicted) and Momin Khawaja, heretofore the capital’s most notorious terrorist son, who was convicted for his involvement in a plot to plant fertilizer bombs in England and whose pride and joy was his “Hi-Fi Digimonster,” as he called the remote-controlled detonator he built.

The current crop, at least according to the police claim, had 59 comparable detonator devices sitting in that closet in Mr. Alizadeh’s flat. The sheer number of circuit boards was alarming to the RCMP and ought to be to the citizenry too.

If the allegations are on the money, these boys have upped the ante a fair bit.

Mr. Alizadeh, an Iranian-born 30-year-old who formerly worked in a halal butcher shop and is now on welfare, is charged with terror conspiracy, having terrorist explosive devices and terrorist fundraising.

Mr. Ahmed is a 26-year-old Ottawa X-ray technician, and Dr. Sher, 28, born and raised in Montreal, is a pathologist.

This case appears to have more in common with Mr. Khawaja’s than that of the Toronto 11. I was reminded of the testimony of one Mohammed Junaid Babar, the New York-raised al-Qaeda operative turned state witness who testified at Mr. Khawaja’s trial (and at the trial of his five alleged buddies, who were convicted in England).

Mr. Babar’s mother worked at the World Trade Center and escaped with her life on 9/11. Mr. Babar’s immediate response was to dash off to Afghanistan – not to fight the likes of those who nearly killed his mother, but to fight the dirty infidels.

There’s a fourth fellow, Awso Peshdary, who was arrested last week and is being held in Ottawa on an unrelated assault charge. He’s apparently considered to be a minor figure, but in the know.

At his aborted bail hearing on Tuesday, which was adjourned until Friday, a crowd of supporters showed up, among them a group of young women, some in traditional Islamic dress, with faces covered.

A friend who was there reports that outside the courthouse, a female photographer was attempting to take pictures of this group, one of whom objected rather strongly and pushed the camera back into the photographer’s face.

The scuffle was unimportant; this sort of thing happens all the time.

More interesting was what that female supporter yelled at the female photographer – “You have no morals!” The first line of attack, when this lot is dealing with objectionable women, is so often that one.

As the ninth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, these are useful reminders that not everyone in this country has, to use the wretched modern term, moved on.

And that young Newfoundlander with the wide open face, Cpl. Pinksen, who was only 11 when the towers fell – his death is part of the same story.