Tuesday, October 19, 2010



OTTAWA - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is refusing to appear before a House of Commons committee to answer lingering questions about contentious comments by Canada's spy chief.

A Public Safety Department official told the committee Tuesday that Toews — the minister responsible for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service — will not testify at a hearing Wednesday.

CSIS director Dick Fadden said in a June television interview that he was in the process of warning at least two provinces — through the Privy Council Office — that members of their cabinets had come under foreign influence.

He also said CSIS had suspicions about a number of municipal politicians in British Columbia. Fadden was coy about the countries involved, but did not deny that China was a country of concern.

In an email to the committee clerk, the public safety official says Fadden has already made himself available to the public safety committee "for a full two hours" on the subject.

"The minister respectfully declines the committee's invitation."

Fadden's interview angered critics who said the comments cast aspersions on all elected officials with ties abroad. Liberal MP Mark Holland said he will continue to pursue the matter because Toews still has some explaining to do.

"An entire community is suffering under the weight of these allegations," Holland said Tuesday.

"The cloud of suspicion continues to grow, and you have a minister who's in hiding, refusing to come before committee to even answer generalized questions about these allegations. I think it's profoundly unfair."

Fadden, appearing before the committee in July, said he was briefed on the foreign influence issue in late 2009. Early this year, he informed national security adviser Marie-Lucie Morin of his general concerns — mainly to figure out how the provinces in question might best be warned.

Fadden said he only addressed the subject in the June TV interview because he made similar comments during a question-and-answer session following a March speech to the Royal Canadian Military Institute.

He has since informed the committee he had received "approval to proceed" from Toews' office with both the military institute speech and the June interview. But he noted the approval obviously did not include the foreign influence remarks made during the unscripted question session at the institute's event.

Morin has also been called to the public safety committee. The Privy Council Office said Tuesday she would not appear either.

CSIS has passed its report on alleged foreign influence to Toews.

"Talking points" prepared for Toews — and vetted by the Privy Council Office — after Fadden made the controversial comments suggest that CSIS making the government aware of foreign interference concerns is similar to the spy agency advising officials of possible terrorist activity or espionage.

"It is important to note that CSIS's view of such cases represent only one perspective and whether the government chooses to act in any particular case is never a foregone conclusion," say the notes. "This has always been the case in Canada and is also the case elsewhere."

Holland said CSIS made serious allegations that must be explained. "You cannot drop a bomb like that and not clear the air afterwards."

"What does it mean for somebody to be influenced? Does it mean that somebody is trying to do influence with another country, that somebody is setting up a community association or a friendship group, or does it mean that foreign governments have spies in our midsts? I think Canadians deserve that answer," he said.

"For CSIS to say this is a matter of national security — it's too late, they did talk about it."

*** This CON govt. is a scam - they keep invoking "National Security" yet they have single handedly undermined all sorts of files on this portfolio. They continually flip the middle one to the House of Commons, which is CENTRAL to our democracy. Also distressing is that they are not only suggesting private construction contracts for sensitive sites, but have shunned the communities needed to thwart future attacks. Truth be told: this CON govt. is making Canada less safe and the whole world can see it. MS ***

Sunday, October 17, 2010



OTTAWA - An independent "workplace assessment" of the fractious RCMP has found that the tepid pace of reform inside the national police force frustrated some Mounties.

"On a range of reform issues, much has been accomplished, although much remains to be done," former spy chief Reid Morden says in a summary of the assessment process, obtained by The Canadian Press.

Tensions mounted in the upper echelons of the Mounties over the summer, with senior members accusing RCMP Commissioner William Elliott of bullying and abusive behaviour.

The Public Safety Department hired Morden, a past director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, to interview disgruntled RCMP members at Ottawa headquarters for a report on improving relations.

In his Aug. 25 synopsis prepared for Public Safety deputy minister Bill Baker, Morden notes the RCMP had not even successfully publicized changes that had taken place as part of its sweeping transformation efforts.

"Whatever the actual pace of reform/transformation, the accomplishments are not well known beyond such prominent items as the restoration of an allowance for cadets to train at the RCMP Depot."

Morden says an account of "objectives achieved or changes made" will soon be published. "Unfortunately, it has been over six months in gestation."

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of Morden's four-page synopsis under the Access to Information Act.

Morden interviewed two dozen people, including Elliott, the first civilian to lead the force, and several deputy and assistant commissioners, from Aug. 3 to 11. He spoke with the Elliott early in the process and again once other interviews — including those who complained about the commissioner's actions — were concluded.

"I felt it was only fair that he be given an opportunity to give his side of any one of these examples," Morden said in an interview.

He also spoke to David Brown, a Toronto lawyer whose 2007 report for the government concluded the RCMP was "horribly broken," and David McAusland, chair of the RCMP reform implementation council, an outside advisory body.

Morden gave Baker a verbal briefing of his "tentative observations and conclusions" on Aug. 13. "In the interim, my findings and recommendations have not changed," he writes.

Citing confidentiality, Morden declined to repeat what he told Baker. A Canadian Press request to interview Baker was declined.

In an email, the Public Safety Department said the government "will continue to reform and strengthen our national police force, and remains committed to ensuring that the RCMP continues to be a strong, accountable organization."

CBC recently reported that Elliott told staff in an email there will be changes "to our senior management team" after Morden found an unhealthy level of tension and concern about the progress of reforms.

Indeed, there have been rumours of an impending shakeup at Mounties headquarters. Some who complained about Elliott are watching carefully to see what happens.

In the letter, Morden says there is a "tremendous well of respect for the RCMP" among Canadians.

"It is not a stretch to say that, if that goodwill has wavered as a result of the problems encountered by the Force over the past five-plus years, it is accompanied by the wholehearted wish to see the Force right itself and perform to the high standards that are central to its traditions.

"This is no less true in the leadership and management of the Force than it is for the constable on the front line," Morden adds.

"Thus the basic integrity of the RCMP, including its leadership and management, must be the centrepiece in considering what actions should be taken to resolve the current rifts within the management of the Force."

Not listed among the interviewees is former assistant commissioner Mike McDonell, who left the force to join the Ontario Provincial Police.

McDonell complained in a July 21 letter to Public Safety Minister Vic Toews that the desire of rank-and-file members for change within the beleaguered RCMP was thwarted by "inertia" under Elliott.

Morden did talk to the recently retired Bill Sweeney, who worked closely with Elliott at headquarters and has since spoken critically of the commissioner's style.

Rod Knecht recently took over Sweeney's post as senior deputy commissioner, serving as Elliott's right-hand man on front-line policing issues.

In a July 28 note to members in Alberta, where he was then commanding officer, Knecht said the force's senior executive was committed to the best interests of the force. "Despite media reports to the contrary, they will continue to work together towards the goal of positive change in the RCMP while the (Morden) review is underway."

*** The RCMP needs surgery. Let's just hope they don't get left in the proverbial emergency room and die a slow and painful death. I would rather hear, they are not there, for they have risen! :) MS ***



VANCOUVER - The RCMP needs an attitude adjustment and the shift will need to be part of any new deal British Columbia and other provinces negotiate for future policing services, says B.C.'s attorney general.

Mike de Jong told reporters after a justice ministers meeting last week that he and his colleagues in other provinces are looking for a direct line of accountability between the RCMP and the provincial jurisdiction.

A "cultural shift" needs to accompany the structural shift that they are negotiating, the minister said.

"The RCMP needs to be accountable both provincially and at the community level."

But a long-time police psychologist says the RCMP instead need transformational change to save the force from itself.

Mounties provide policing services under contract in all provinces except Quebec and Ontario and an agreement negotiated in 1992 will expire in 2012.

British Columbia is the largest user of RCMP services in Canada, and de Jong said the province is using its lead role in contract talks to force change from the national police force.

Shortly after the results of the inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, de Jong announced that a civilian investigation office would be established to investigate in-custody deaths and severe injuries involving municipal police and RCMP.

Dziekanski died after being jolted by an RCMP Taser several times at Vancouver's airport. The incident was caught on video and the resulting public furor over the death tarnished the once-squeaky clean image of the Mounties.

The incident was the peak in a series of Mountie missteps across the country in the last few years.

Mike Webster is a police psychologist and worked with the RCMP for decades before he spoke out during the Dziekanski inquiry.

He said the cultural shift de Jong is proposing won't be as easy as the minister believes.

"They're not going to change. You can have (police) report to the municipalities ... but that's not going to bring about an attitude change, you're not going to rekindle the moral of the membership or rekindle the trust in confidence in the public."

He said in an interview Sunday that type of change would be incremental.

Instead, he said "a transformational change would see the RCMP transformed into an entirely different organization with a much greater chance to survive."

He compared such a change to auto giant General Motors before and after the world's financial collapse.

"They swept the house clean of the old guard," he said. "They've downsized, they've knocked out middle management and so on, and they just might survive. That's the kind of thing the RCMP needs to undergo."

He said that would mean a change by the federal government of the RCMP Act.

De Jong said the federal government has been receptive to the idea that RCMP officers account both to the province and local communities for their actions.

The attorney general wouldn't say yes or no when asked if there was any chance the RCMP wouldn't get the contract.

He did say B.C.'s municipal leaders have told him they want the RCMP.

"They like that relationship, for all its shortcomings. So on the basis of those instructions we are actively working."

Webster said there's one main reason cities want the Mounties.

"They want the RCMP because RCMP is the Wal-Mart of policing. They're much cheaper than getting their own police services."

He said the mayors of those municipalities aren't interested in good policing, they're interested in cheap policing.

Webster said the RCMP cuts corners on the backs of its members .

He said the result is sick officers who suffer more stress at work and depression than the general public.

"The RCMP gets away with operating so cheaply because it asks so much of its membership."

Instead, Webster believes the RCMP should restrict its role in Canada to something similar to the FBI in the United States.

*** It's more than just in B.C. that they need an attitude adjustment...MS***

Saturday, October 16, 2010


OTTAWA - The alleged terrorist who once moonwalked across the stage to audition for Canadian Idol was granted bail Wednesday.

Dr. Khurram Syed Sher didn't dance out of the courthouse, but he did break out the robot in jail before attending the bail hearing, his lawyer Anser Farooq said.

Farooq said his client has a sense of humour and did the '80s dance move at Ottawa's provincial jail despite not knowing how Wednesday would turn out.

Sher stopped for a throng of media waiting for him outside the Elgin St. courthouse. Besides a "no comment," Sher didn't respond to questions until a television reporter asked how the fresh air felt.

"It's nice," he replied with a small smirk.

Sher, 28, and co-accused Misbahuddin Ahmed and Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 31, are charged with conspiring with people in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan to facilitate terrorism.

The reasons for Justice of the Peace Louisette Girault's decision are covered by a standard publication ban.

Sher will reside at a family member's home in Mississauga, Ont., and have to report to the RCMP in Etobicoke once a week. He also can only use the Internet to continue his studies under supervision of a surety, as well as not communicate with the other accused. His sureties posted a $183,000 bond.

Ahmed and Alizadeh are also charged with possessing explosives and Alizadeh with financing terrorism.

"It's going to take some time to sink in," Farooq said of his client being on bail.

Farooq said their goal is to get the case moving along so Sher can clear his name. Farooq said he's going to push the Crown to reassess their case against Sher because he feels there isn't enough evidence that implicates him.

Ahmed has already been granted bail but the Crown is appealing it. Alizadeh has yet to have a bail hearing.

Investigators with Project Samossa allege the men were involved in a plot to build and detonate bombs in Canada and raise money to help Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Soon after his arrest, a video of Sher showed his awkward 2008 appearance on the Canadian Idol reality talent show.

Sher, then a 25-year-old McGill medical student, drew laughs and ridicule from the panel for his butchered rendition of Avril Lavigne's hit song Complicated.

Bearded and wearing traditional Pakistani clothing, Sher performed the moonwalk, kicked up his leg Michael Jackson-style and performed robotic breakdancing moves.

The young doctor had told the panel that he liked hockey, music and acting. He had been heavily involved in sporting events and student life as a medical student at McGill, where he graduated in 2005.

Sher left Montreal in June for a job as a pathologist in London, Ont.

Colleagues at St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital were shocked when they learned of his arrest.

- with QMI Agency files


FROM: http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2010/10/14/15684456.html

*** Even if this does not work out, the sound of the hammer is being heard by others. MS ***

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


*** More proof that the CONservative govt. is an embarassment to Canada on a global scale, having actively undermined our once-respected reputation. Mr. Harper and the CON govt. are squarely to blame. Worse, they QUIT. MS ***


UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon on Tuesday blamed his government's "not always popular" foreign policy and internal political squabbles for the country's unprecedented loss of its bid to sit on the UN Security Council.

"The principles underlying our foreign policy such as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, were the basis for all of our decisions," Cannon told a press conference at the United Nations.

"Some would say that because of our attachment to those values that we lost a seat on the council. If that's the case, then so be it," he said, appearing uncharacteristically agitated.

It was the first time since the creation of the United Nations that Ottawa has suffered such a humiliation.

"It also did not help that our opponents could point to the fact that for the first time in Canadian history, Canada was not united in its bid," Cannon added.

Last month, while Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a pitch at the United Nations for a rotating seat on the Security Council, opposition leader Michael Ignatieff questioned whether Harper's government deserved it.

"This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, 'Hey, put us on the council," Ignatieff said.

"I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council but Canadians have to ask a tough question: Has this government earned that place? We're not convinced it has."

Canada had been in contention with Portugal for the last of two seats available for Western Europe and a group of other western nations.

Canada withdrew after a second round of voting at the UN General Assembly in which Portugal led by 120 votes to 78 but did not secure the required majority for victory.

Cannon said he felt that Ignatieff's aberrant criticisms, of "not being able to speak with one voice as a country... did have a negative effect on the Canadian campaign."

This explanation was dismissed by analysts interviewed by AFP.

"I don't think that UN General Assembly member states paid any attention to Michael Ignatieff's criticisms," said Jonathan Paquin, a Canadian foreign policy expert at Laval University in Quebec City.

"The failure to secure a seat or the fact that Canada withdrew from the competition to save face is a slap in the face to its foreign policy over the past few years."

University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes echoed the view about the failed bid, saying "the reasons have nothing at all to do with Michael Ignatieff's comments."

More likely, they said, the vote result was meant to protest Harper's radical change in Canadian foreign policy since coming to power in 2006, from intermediary to asserting itself on the world stage.

"We seem to have distanced ourselves from others' concerns on the international scene and become engaged in a way that is very different from how we presented ourselves in the past," Paquin explained.

"Canada is no longer the international mediator that once sought to find common ground between warring states, but is now a player on the world stage taking self-interested positions on issues and being more forceful in asserting its opinions," he said.

The Harper administration's strong support of Israel, for example, has probably not been helpful in securing support from Arab nations for its bid, Mendes said.

In refocusing some of its aid from Africa to South America, Ottawa likely lost support from African countries but did not gain enough offsetting support in Latin America, where many nations have strong historical ties to Portugal.

Canada's seeming foot-dragging at the Copenhagen conference on climate change also upset many European countries. "Not only was this not helpful, it was a spoiler," said Mendes.

In the end, "we wanted a good global citizen ... and we judged that Portugal was a better one than Canada. It's as simple as that," Paquin concluded. <<<-- That's the part that makes me wanna cry. Could anyone ever expect such words to follow in succession to make that sentence???


*** Not a Muslim but just as guilty. ;) MS ***


A Hamilton man has been jailed for 23 months in a hoax that led hundreds of national security officers on a 12-day wild goose chase to stop a truck bomb from being exploded at Queen's Park.

Norm Edward Davey, 46, was charged last March 2 by an RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team for public mischief and obstructing justice in connection with the plot.

He pleaded guilty last week to an agreed statement of facts and was sentenced to 23 months in jail in addition to seven months of pretrial custody.

Davey was also placed on three years of probation, banned for life from owning weapons and ordered to deposit a DNA sample to a police data base.

He is also being investigated in connection with a homicide by Halton Regional Police.

Police said the hoax led to hundreds of officers from the RCMP, CSIS, OPP, Toronto, Peel, Halton and York forces being placed on alert and working around-the-clock for 12 days to prevent a terrorist blast against the Ontario Legislature, where Lieut.-Gov. David Onley and Premier Dalton McGuinty have their offices.

The hoax called for a cube van filled with more than 100 bags of ammonium nitrate to be ploughed into the Legislature and exploding on impact causing significant damage.

It was a similar bombing method that was planned for use against city landmarks and government buildings by the Toronto 18 terror ring before they were rounded up.

Davey claimed up to 22.5 kg bags of ammonium nitrate and four 50-gallon drums of diesel had been stashed in a warehouse for use in making the bomb. He even showed police a photo of bags of ammonium nitrate, which cops said later he obtained from the Internet.

Davey claimed the bomb builder had previously assembled an explosive weapon that blew up a Sudbury police station in the 1990s.

The fabrication fell apart after he twice refused to undergo a lie detector test.

"That there was no plot to blow up anything," police said afterwards.

"He gets off on the excitement of being investigated or being involved in the investigation."

RCMP Sgt. Marc LaPorte said dozens of officers were investigating the threat that saw around-the-clock surveillance placed on two suspects, one who lived in North Bay.

LaPorte said the investigation cost several $100,000, including about $70,000 that was spent on surveillance.

Monday, October 11, 2010



WASHINGTON - Yemen's al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula includes chilling new tips on how to kill Americans in its second edition of the English online magazine Inspire.

The 74-page issue advises would-be militants to open fire "at a crowded restaurant in Washington, D.C., at lunch hour," in hopes of "knocking out a few government employees."

Renegade American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki penned two of the articles, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. Awlaki is on a U.S. government kill-or-capture list for his alleged role in the attempted Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas.

Another American, Samir Khan, describes how he went from online jihadist in North Carolina to full-time terrorist in Yemen, in his article, "I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America."

*** Mass shootings in public places - there have already been SEVERAL cases in the United States but are shrugged off as to be expected. As soon as terrorists start this, then it'll really be newsworthy. Still no counter Jihad products from the Western world - what a missed opportunity. MS ***



By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - Canada's former top soldier is warning that "field marshal wannabes" are angling to take a bigger role in directing the day-to-day operations of military forces in the field.

Retired general Rick Hillier says a policy paper is circulating around senior levels of the Harper government that suggests the Clerk of the Privy Council and the deputy minister of defence take a greater role to "guide" the military.

The former chief of defence staff writes, in a new postscript for the softcover edition of his memoirs, that there is a growing movement within the federal government to establish a system of micro-management that could extend from the highest reaches of Ottawa all the way down to individual combat units.

The paper was produced within the last year and has been the subject of some discussion, according to Hillier, and would give senior bureaucrats greater powers than those already spelled out in the National Defence Act.

The notion that the military needs greater guidance on how to conduct operations irked Hillier.

"What crap!" Hillier writes in the new edition of A Soldier First, an advance copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

"The National Defence Act is clear — our sons and daughters need to have direction from the leaders that Canadians have elected, and they need to have that direction passed through the Chief of Defence Staff without interference from bureaucrats who have no preparation or training for this task, and no responsibility for those lives.

"Any governments who permit anything different should have their rear ends booted out of office by moms and dads of those serving sons and daughters."

Defence Minister Peter MacKay was unavailable for an interview, but in statement he suggested the relationship between civilians and the military is productive and not strained.

"Whether it is our mission in Afghanistan, disaster relief in Haiti, support to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games or any other initiative, the professionalism and dedication of all personnel is paramount to our success," he said.

"I'm proud of the excellent efforts that numerous departments and agencies have put into our mission in Afghanistan. But I'm even more proud to work with the incredible people that make up the defence community."

Military and political science historian Desmond Morton said Hillier's warning about the creeping centralization of authority should be heeded because of the "control freak" reflex of the current government.

The general also took a swipe at parliamentarians for last year's investigation to torture claims in Afghan prisons and what the government knew about it. He accused all parties being uninterested in facts and declared soldiers "would be run over in a heartbeat if those involved thought it would give them a few more votes."

Hillier added excessive government secrecy over documents fuelled the debate.

"Now, I believe that those who have turned our Parliament into an embarrassment are unworthy of those in uniform who serve with such valour," he wrote.

Stories of the battles between the bureaucracy and Hillier, who retired as the country's top military commander in 2008, are legion around Ottawa. In the first edition of his book, published last year, he stunned many in the political community with his frank account of how the Conservative government toyed with the notion of yanking day-to-day control of the war away from the ground commander in Kandahar and placing it with the country's ambassador in Kabul.

He railed against the Ottawa culture in the book and referred to the bureaucrats who cooked up the proposal as "field marshal wannabes," who shouldn't be trusted with authority beyond what Parliament has already granted them.

"I absolutely refused, for more than a year before my retirement, to condone any direct role in the command and control of the CF contingent in Afghanistan by any of the bureaucrats," he writes in the new edition of the book.

"This would have been dangerous to our young men and women, to the mission and to the bureaucrats, who had had no preparation, training or experience in such command and were not qualified for it."

Hillier was not available for an interview.

Morton said the former general's fear about bureaucrats who know nothing about the military is well-founded because unlike previous generations they've not been educated or exposed to the culture.

He blamed that on the Liberals who killed off the National Defence College, an institution with a sizable civilian enrolment, but said Hillier has alienated them further with bellicose rhetoric.

"Folks at foreign affairs or even the mounted police used to be educated in what these fellows in green were doing and why, but that's not the case anymore," Morton said.

"They don't know what use the military is, and Hillier has some justification for wondering about the kind of creeps rose the ranks, but to my knowledge, as chief of defence staff, he did very little about it."

Hillier made a lot of speeches and raised the public profile of the Forces, but Morton said he questions what concrete action was taken to educate federal officials.

*** Go General Hillier! MS ***

Saturday, October 9, 2010


*** I wish Christians would stand up more in defence of the Christ instead of permitting for such vile depictions in the name of "art". Attack the Church all you want - but leave Jesus out of it.

We have this twisted understanding of "secularism" as if it means "no religion" - which it does not. It simply means the "Church" (meaning any institution of religious decrees) does not make the laws and is instead subject to those laws.

It does NOT mean "no religion" - it does NOT mean faith practice is to be attacked and ridiculed - it does NOT mean overt signs of faith practice are to be condemned - it does NOT mean we try to pretend faith is not an integral part of many people's lives. This forced a-religiousness will only result in rebound religiosity and instead of suppressing it, CELEBRATE it. Christians: stand up for the Christ - speak out against blatant insult, it is your RIGHT. MS ***


WINNIPEG (CBC) - A Montana woman is alleged to have driven 1,500 kilometres from Montana to a museum in Loveland, Colo., so she could rip up a controversial piece of art featuring Jesus.

Kathleen Folden, a 56-year-old truck driver, is charged with criminal mischief in the case.

Witnesses said she shouted "How can you desecrate my Lord?" as she used the crowbar to smash glass shielding the print at the Loveland Museum Gallery and then tore part of the canvas.

Folden appeared in court Thursday and was released on bail of $350 US.

A judge granted her permission to leave the state so she can keep working as a truck driver while she waits for her next court date.

The collage by Enrique Chagoila has been denounced by church members as obscene as it includes a head of Jesus and a woman's body engaged in a sex act.

Church members had been picketing peacefully outside the gallery, asking that the artwork be taken down.

Now it appears they will get their way, after city officials said Thursday they will not hang the work again because of safety concerns.

The incident Wednesday was "very troubling" said acting city manager Rod Wensing.

Curator Maureen Corey condemned the attack and admitted the controversy has helped boost visits to the museum.

"In my opinion, it's rather sad taking away people's freedom to see the art," Corey said.

Chagoya, a Stanford University professor who created the work, titled The Misadventures of the Romantic Cannibals, denied the work suggests Jesus having sex.

His 12-panel lithograph is a collage that includes comic book characters, Mexican pornography, Mayan symbols and a skeleton with a pope's hat.

"What I'm trying to express is the corruption of the spiritual by the church," Chagoya said.

He said the decision not to display the work again amounts to suppression of art.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


*** Without fail, EVERYTIME a CON govt. comes into power - they remind Canadians why we should not have allowed such a thing. Tell us again how you support the troops? Bloody disgraceful. MS ***


OTTAWA - Canada's privacy commissioner says the Veterans Affairs Department broke the law in the way it handled the personal information of an outspoken critic.

Jennifer Stoddart released the findings today of her year-long investigation into a complaint by retired intelligence officer Sean Bruyea, whose medical and financial information ended up in briefing notes to two federal cabinet ministers.

"What we found in this case was alarming," Stoddart said in a statement.

"The veteran’s sensitive medical and personal information was shared — seemingly with no controls — among departmental officials who had no legitimate need to see it. This personal information subsequently made its way into a ministerial briefing note about the veteran’s advocacy activities. This was entirely inappropriate."

That is a flagrant violation of the federal Privacy Act, which says individual information must be shared within government on a need-to-know basis.

Bruyea's medical information, including diagnosis, symptoms and prognosis, were found in a 2006 briefing note to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson. A second briefing note, dating back to the former Liberal veterans minister in 2005, also contained sensitive information.

The investigation officials from different branches of Veterans Affairs, including Program Policy, Communications and Media Relations, were involved in discussing and contributing to the content of the briefing notes and also had full access to them.

Stoddart's investigation also found the department sent large volumes of Bruyea's medical information to a veterans' hospital without his consent.

She's told Veterans Affairs to institute better protections and controls for the handling of information and to ensure that information is shared only on a need-to-know basis, among other things.

The commissioner can only make recommendations and has no enforcement power, nor is she able to levy penalties for violating the Privacy Act. It will be up to Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn to take action.

Bruyea launched a court action against the federal government in early September.

Other veterans, notably former combat nurse Louise Richard, have come forward with evidence that their records have also been inappropriately circulated among department officials.

Stoddard confirmed she has received complaints from other veterans.

The commissioner plans to launch an audit of privacy at Veterans Affairs that will examine the department’s policies and practices.



Christie Blatchford

If it looks like jury nullification and walks like jury nullification and quacks like jury nullification, it’s probably jury nullification.

It may be that there’s another explanation for the verdict in the military trial of Captain Robert Semrau, but it sure isn’t the obvious one.

Capt. Semrau is the 36-year-old Canadian soldier who on Monday was acquitted of three charges – including second-degree murder – but convicted of one count of disgraceful conduct. All the charges relate to a single incident, the alleged shooting death of a gravely wounded Taliban fighter on Oct. 19, 2008, in Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

Capt. Semrau’s conviction on the disgraceful conduct charge raises an obvious question – what did he do that was disgraceful if he didn’t shoot the wounded Talib?

By all accounts, the married father of two little girls is considered an excellent soldier and an upstanding and honourable man.

Yet by just about every indicator usually used in such matters, military prosecutors arguably proved their case.

Certainly, despite the absence of a body (the Talib’s was never retrieved from the battlefield, the allegations not arising until about two months later) or physical evidence, no one seems to ever have suggested at the court martial that a badly wounded Talib did not in fact die that day, or that this was all a mirage or something imagined through the fog of war.

An Afghan interpreter testified he saw Capt. Semrau fire the second bullet into the Talib’s body.

There was a cellphone video introduced at trial which showed a wounded man, allegedly the wounded man, lying still and unmoving.

There was contradictory testimony from members of Capt. Semrau’s small Operational and Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT), with two soldiers saying Capt. Semrau told them afterward he had shot the Talib to put him out of his misery and the third denying any such discussion had taken place.

But there was also a potential explanation for the differing accounts, though the jury never heard it because the judge ruled it was inadmissible.

According to former corporal Tony Haraszta’s last-minute revelation, the unit had also discussed a cover-up at that team meeting, and the man who raised the idea, Warrant Officer Merlin Longaphie, was also the soldier who denied that Capt. Semrau had met with the team after the shooting and told them it was a mercy killing.

Capt. Semrau didn’t testify. His defence team called no evidence. In other words, the jurors were given no alternate explanation and had no denials ringing in their ears when they retired to consider their verdict.

As a smart lawyer friend of mine says, “The law is supposed to be consistent with or equivalent to some moral code. The question here is, was it?”

Jurors, whether civilian or military, usually get things right.

They accept the invitation and responsibility to enter the sometimes complex world of the law and to bring their life experience and common sense to bear, and, to a surprising degree, that collective wisdom usually also leads them to the legally correct result.

But what if, as my lawyer friend says, they were unhappy with the relationship between the law and the inherent moral question? What if they believed the punishment – in Capt. Semrau’s case, conviction on second-degree murder would have meant life in prison with no parole for at least 10 years – didn’t fit the crime?

It seems pretty clear to me that was the case here, that the jurors – though a criticism of them was that they are administrative and logistics officers, with no one from the combat arms – found a disconnect either between the severity of punishment and crime or between the law and morality, or perhaps both.

If that’s so, it would be akin to the several trials of abortion provider Henry Morgentaler, who performed safe abortions for women at his clinic for years in defiance of the Criminal Code. He was acquitted by juries every time, and went to jail only when one of those acquittals was reversed by a higher court. Those juries were plainly expressing their dissatisfaction with the state of the law.

The approval that has thus far greeted the military verdict is founded not in evidence but in supposition – not that Capt. Semrau, in the vernacular, didn’t do it, but that that he must have been acting mercifully. The Talib, after all, had life-threatening wounds to his abdomen and his legs from an attack helicopter called in to help the Canadians and the Afghan soldiers working with them; the small unit was in no position to call in a medical evacuation for him and was in an area overrun by hostile forces. The Talib must have been suffering terribly.

These were some of the things that ran through my head too, when the allegations against Capt. Semrau were first made public.

Yet every soldier I asked about it said pretty much the same thing: The Geneva Conventions, the International Law of Armed Conflict and the Canadian soldier’s bible on such matters, Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada, all are firm that once a soldier is injured and hors de combat, French for “out of the fight,” he is considered a prisoner of war, and deserving of every protection.

It reminded me of something I once heard my favourite commander say, and this was in the early spring of 2006 in Kandahar.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Hope was addressing his troops at a grimy and isolated base. “We need discipline,” he said, “and we need to keep up our professionalism – that’s what distinguishes you from every other guy with a gun in this country.”

I should be clear: Lt.-Col. Hope was particularly talking about the need for his men to shave regularly, but he was also talking about much else. I wonder if that distinction between Canadian soldiers and every other guy with a gun in Afghanistan now will be more difficult to establish.

*** One question: if YOU were lying on a battlefield, with gaping holes in your abdomen and God knows where else - would you not want to be put out of your misery? Even the Taliban fighter knew that was better for him. Capt. Semrau is a soldier that other, average soldiers read about with awe. This prosecution was a waste of time and resources. MS ***


Judge spikes child-porn case against Muslim preacher targeted by CSIS

Colin Freeze

Kiddie-porn charges have been dropped against a Muslim preacher, with a judge ruling that “threats and intimidation” by CSIS agents railroaded the man into handing over evidence.

In 2007, Brampton's Ayad Mejid had had enough of a long-standing Canadian Security Intelligence Service investigation. Targeted as a suspected supporter of terrorism, he lent his laptop to authorities to try to prove his innocence. CSIS agents who searched the laptop without a warrant passed it to Toronto Police detectives, who in turn arrested Mr. Mejid. Police alleged that they found child-pornography images inside.

On Wednesday, on the eve of a long-delayed trial, a court ruled that any Crown evidence against Mr. Mejid was moot. Faulting CSIS for being beyond aggressive, Superior Court Justice Jane Kelly tossed the case.

“The intrusion into Mr. Mejid's computer on the basis of consent obtained by threats and coercion was not merely technical in nature or the result of an understandable mistake,” Judge Kelly found. “Simply put, it was produced under compulsion.”

The written decision says CSIS spent years targeting Mr. Mejid, convincing him to take a polygraph test, threatening to expose an alleged extramarital affair, and directing law-enforcement agencies to search for porn on his computers. Prior to his handing over his laptop, CSIS agents told him his “life would change” if he did not co-operate.

“The CSIS conduct in seizing and searching Mr. Mejid’s computer in the circumstances of false misrepresentations is reprehensible,” Judge Kelly wrote.

Anser Farooq, Mr. Mejid’s lawyer, said his client has always denied links to terrorism or perusing child pornography. “He's said from day one, ‘This was not mine.’ ”

Unlike police or judges, CSIS agents lack powers to arrest or compel testimony. So the spies use whatever leverage they can exert to get people to speak to any potential acts of terrorism.

The more dogged the line of inquiry, the more exposed the spy service is to complaints from immigrants and immigrant communities. Yet given how CSIS tries to stay out of court, it’s rare for any judge to endorse such complaints.

CSIS agents began zeroing in on Mr. Mejid in 2003, amid suspicions he had a hand in starting an Internet outfit known as the Global Islamic Media Forum. GIMF attracts Islamists whose posts can glorify terrorism – not a crime in Canada. Some GIMF members in Canada and Austria have been recently convicted of plotting terrorist attacks.

Prior to the laptop incident, Mr. Mejid allowed CSIS to snoop inside his computers on several occasions. He even consented to a polygraph, which CSIS maintained he flunked.

Throughout, the Iraqi-born immigrant denied links to terrorism. After handing over his laptop in 2007, he found himself also denying a child-pornography rap. In an interview following his arrest, Mr. Mejid told The Globe and Mail he had never even heard of pedophilia before his run-ins with CSIS. “I didn't know there are some sick people like that,” he said at the time. “I didn't know there was this situation [that] some people like kids.”

With all the evidence tossed, the courts will no longer determine who is culpable for the obscene material.

*** Too bad the Agent(s) had to resort to these type of tactics - the case was good, the evidence was there and now this guy walks. Part of the problem is the attitude of non cooperation by members of the Muslim community and part of the problem is the shady tactics used by some Agents. There is a SERIOUS credibility gap that does not have to exist - if only the right approach is taken. Opponents of CSIS will take this is a victory of sorts but altogether avoid the fact that the laptop DID have child porn images on it.

I take this opportunity to repeat calls for a Parliamentary Oversight committee to be able to instantly investigate CSIS and the RCMP in national security matters (Canada is the only major Western country to not have one) which could construct a "rules of engagement" policy that will avoid cases like this. MS ***

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


*** Another jerkoff with delusions of grandeur. I don't expect him to last long in prison. MS ***


NEW YORK, N.Y. - The Pakistani immigrant who tried to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square accepted a life sentence with a smirk Tuesday and warned that Americans can expect more bloodshed at the hands of Muslims.

"Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun," 31-year-old Faisal Shahzad told a federal judge. "Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

His punishment for building the propane-and-gasoline bomb and driving it into the heart of the city in an SUV last May was a foregone conclusion, since the charges to which he pleaded guilty carried a mandatory life sentence, which under federal rules will keep him behind bars until he dies.

But the former budget analyst from Connecticut used the courtroom appearance to rail against the U.S., saying the country will continue to pay for occupying Muslim countries.

"We are only Muslims ... but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you," he told U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum.

Shahzad — brought into the courtroom in handcuffs, and wearing a long beard and white skullcap — had instructed his attorney not to speak, and Cedarbaum told prosecutors she didn't need to hear from them.

That left the two free to spar over his reasoning for giving up his comfortable life in America to train in Pakistan and carry out an attack authorities say could have killed an untold number of pedestrians.

"You appear to be someone who was capable of education and I do hope you will spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Qur’an wants you to kill lots of people," Cedarbaum said.

Shahzad responded that the "Qur’an gives us the right to defend. And that's all I'm doing."

The judge cut him off at one point to ask if he had sworn allegiance to the U.S. when he became a citizen last year.

"I did swear, but I did not mean it," Shahzad said.

In his address to the court, he said Osama bin Laden "will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade" — a reference to the Muslim hero of the Crusades. He also said: "If I'm given 1,000 lives, I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah."

Shahzad smirked when the judge imposed the sentence. Asked if he had any final words, he said, "I'm happy with the deal that God has given me."

Afterward, the head of the FBI's New York office, Janice K. Fedarcyk, cited evidence that Shahzad hoped to strike more than once.

"Shahzad built a mobile weapon of mass destruction and hoped and intended that it would kill large numbers of innocent people and planned to do it again two weeks later," Fedarcyk said in a statement. "The sentence imposed today means Shahzad will never pose that threat again."

Calling himself a Muslim soldier, Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to 10 terrorism and weapons counts. He said the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a U.S. citizen.

For greatest impact, he chose a crowded a section of Times Square by studying an online streaming video of the so-called Crossroads of the World, prosecutors said.

On May 1, he lit the fuse of his crude bomb packed in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, then walked away, pausing to listen for the explosion that never came, court papers said. A street vendor spotted smoke coming from the SUV and alerted police, who quickly cleared the area. (btw - the vendor was Muslim himself...Alio Niasse)

The bomb attempt set off an intense investigation that culminated two days later with investigators plucking Shahzad off a Dubai-bound plane at a New York airport.

Prosecutors introduced a dramatic videotape of an FBI-staged explosion in a Pennsylvania field that they said demonstrated how deadly Shahzad's bomb could have been.

The FBI's car bomb — a 1993 Pathfinder fitted with 250 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel, three 25-pound (11-kilogram) propane tanks and two five-gallon gasoline canisters — blew up with a force that ripped the sport utility vehicle in half.

The explosion caused a giant fireball that overturned and shredded four other cars parked nearby, obliterated about a dozen dummies and shot fiery debris hundreds of feet in all directions.


PARIS (AFP) - Police arrested nine people and seized guns and ammunition in southern France in anti-terrorism raids, sources close to the investigations said on Tuesday.

Police made the arrests on Tuesday morning in the southern port city of Marseille and the nearby town of Avignon, the sources told AFP.

They seized "some weapons, including a Kalashnikov (rifle) and a pump-action shotgun, as well as ammunition," said one official close to the investigation.

In a separate operation also on Tuesday, French police arrested three men after finding their numbers in the mobile phone of a man of Algerian origin who was arrested at the weekend in Italy allegedly with a bomb-making kit.

Two of those suspects were arrested in the southern city of Marseille and the third in Bordeaux in the southwest, said a police source. Officials stressed that the two sets of arrests were not linked.

In the second raid, the three men's phone numbers were found in the phone of Ryad Hannouni, who was picked up Saturday close to the central train station in the Italian city of Naples allegedly carrying a bomb-making kit.

The 28-year-old, for whom a European arrest warrant had been issued, was to be extradited to France, ANSA news agency said.

The US State Department issued a travel advisory Sunday telling Americans in Europe to remain vigilant of possible terror strikes, and several other countries followed suit with similar warnings.

Monday, October 4, 2010


A Superior Court judge has meted out the lightest sentence to date among the adults convicted in the Toronto 18 terrorism plot.

Asad Ansari, 25, became a free man yesterday after receiving six years and five months — the equivalent of time served — for his participation in the group, which plotted devastating attacks in Toronto and Ottawa. The offence carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

“While Mr. Ansari’s involvement in the offence was serious, it is not at the most serious end of the scale,” Justice Fletcher Dawson asserted in his 12-page ruling.

Ansari has been out on strict house-arrest bail for more than a year awaiting trial and sentencing. Taken on a two-for-one basis, his sentence is equivalent to the almost three years and three months he spent in pretrial custody. Judge Dawson, who also handed Ansari three years of probation, said it would be an “unjust hardship” to return him to prison at this juncture.

Ansari’s sentence is the lightest among the adults convicted in the Toronto 18 plot, though one youth received less time, having been released on time served more than a year ago.

After a lengthy joint trial with another co-accused, Ansari was convicted in June of participating in the Toronto 18, which planned to storm Parliament and detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto. Authorities dismantled the homegrown cell in June 2006.

In his ruling, Judge Dawson pointed out Ansari was not charged in the bomb plot, and said his involvement in a terrorist training camp in the winter of 2005 was “more limited” than that of other group members.

During that camp, the court has heard, participants wore camouflage clothing and engaged in paramilitary drills.

“I am satisfied that once [Ansari] was there, the nature of the camp would have been apparent to him,” Judge Dawson said, rejecting testimony from Ansari, who said he was unaware of any terrorist implications.

“The jury obviously found that Mr. Ansari’s testimony was not credible,” Judge Dawson said. “I must say I reached the same conclusion.”

The Crown has painted Ansari as the group’s technical expert, one who helped edit video footage of the training camp and cleared malicious software from ringleader Fahim Ahmad’s computer. Judge Dawson said it was clear Ansari “pledged his computer skills for the benefit of the group.”

Ansari, who strolled out of court yesterday with his mother, declined to comment on the ruling. His lawyer, Breese Davies, lauded the judge’s “fit sentence” but said her client would be appealing his conviction within 30 days.

“He gave an innocent explanation [for his involvement in the group] and he maintains that position,” Ms. Davies said. Still, she added, “we are glad that this part is over. He can focus on moving on with his life.”

Upon hearing of the ruling, Public Safety Minster Vic Toews issued a statement highlighting the government’s recent decision to end the practice of granting convicts two-for-one credit for pretrial custody.

“Part of keeping our communities safe is keeping dangerous criminals behind bars, not releasing them into our streets early… Canadians believe this is unacceptable, and our government will continue to put the rights of victims ahead of the rights of criminals,” Mr. Toews said.

Ansari is one of the final Toronto 18 members to be sentenced. Ringleader Ahmad is to be sentenced this month, with Steven Chand and Shareef Abdelhaleem following in November. Seven of the group members were released without charges, and seven others have been convicted and sentenced.

*** Minister Toews and the CONservative party has no credibility in trying to use this as a proof of any sort about their worth in the national security file. The solution is not to jail everyone forever and ever while ignoring and neglecting the CAUSES that give rise to radicalization leading to terrorism. If you want to keep applying band-aids - you'll only end up looking like my 5 year old kid who does the same thinking that by applying all those bandaids, he is healed.

This CON government has done NOTHING to convince me of their sincerity in dealing with the scourge of homegrown radicalization we are facing. They are being opportunist (as usual) and here is their latest example. MS ***

Sunday, October 3, 2010


*** An attack on Europe is inevitable and I fear one is coming soon... MS ***


By Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press

ISLAMABAD - Dozens of Muslim militants with European citizenship are believed to be hiding out in the lawless tribal area of northwestern Pakistan, Pakistani and Western intelligence officials say, training for missions that could include terror attacks in European capitals.

Officials have used phone intercepts and voice tracking software to track militants with ties to Britain and other European countries to areas along the Afghan border. Al-Qaida would likely turn to such extremists for a European plot because they can move freely in and out of Western cities.

Fear that such an attack is in the planning stage has prompted the U.S. State Department to advise Americans travelling in Europe to be vigilant. American and European security experts have been concerned that terrorists based in Pakistan may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. U.S. intelligence officials believe Osama bin Laden is behind the plots.

A senior official of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, told The Associated Press that there are believed to be "several dozen" people with European citizenship — many of Pakistani origin — among the Islamic extremists operating in the lawless border area.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not supposed to talk about classified information to the media, said foreigners in the area also include Chechens, Uzbeks, Arabs and Turks, one of whom was a former F-16 pilot in the Turkish air force.

"That shows you that some of the people who are coming are very well educated," he said. "It was very surprising for us but they come thinking this is the pure (Islamic) ideology that they are seeking."

Britain's communications monitoring agency, the Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, estimates there are as many as 20 British-born militants in the border area, especially in the North Waziristan district that has been the focus of recent missile strikes carried out by unmanned aircraft operated by the CIA.

Mobile phone communications have been tracked from the border area to points in Britain, particularly England's Midlands, where there is a heavy Pakistani immigrant population, according to a British government official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terror plot investigation is ongoing.

Voice-printing software enables British intelligence to identify and track specific individuals believed connected to terror plots, he said.

In addition, a spokeswoman with Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office said last week that there is "concrete evidence" that 70 people have travelled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan for paramilitary training, and that about a third of them have returned to Germany.

The presence in the border areas of Islamic militants with Western connections has been known for years.

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who confessed to the May 1 failed car-bombing in New York's Times Square, said the Pakistani Taliban trained him for the mission. Shahzad is scheduled to be sentenced Tuesday in a U.S. court.

During an operation last year, Pakistani soldiers discovered a passport in the name of Said Bahaji, which matches the name of a member of the Hamburg, Germany, cell that conceived the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. Bahaji is believed to have fled Germany shortly before the attacks in New York and Washington.

A Spanish passport found by the Pakistani military during the same operation bore the name of Raquel Burgos Garcia. Spanish media reported that a woman with the same name was married to Amer Azizi, an alleged al-Qaida member from Morocco suspected in both the 9/11 attacks and the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Concern over the pool of Europeans capable of carrying out attacks abroad rose about a month ago when U.S. intelligence heard of a European plot and began monitoring the people involved, according to two U.S. officials. The CIA recently stepped up airstrikes from unmanned aircraft in northwestern Pakistan, in part to disrupt the plot. In September there were at least 21 attacks — more than double the highest number fired in any other single month.

A Pakistani official said some information about the plot came from a suspect who had been interrogated at the military prison at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, the main U.S. and NATO base in Afghanistan. A U.S. official identified him as Ahmed Siddiqui, a German citizen of Afghan origin who was captured in Afghanistan in July.

The plot apparently called for several gunmen to fan out across Germany, Britain and France in hopes of launching attacks similar not only to the Mumbai assault but also to so-called "swarm attacks" that extremists have mounted in Kabul and other Afghan cities. The tactic calls for small teams with automatic rifles, grenade launchers and suicide vests to strike simultaneously at several targets in a city and cause as much havoc as possible before they can be killed or captured.

Reports of the alleged plot again cast the spotlight on North Waziristan, where Washington believes al-Qaida and its allies plan attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan as well as targets abroad.

Although the Pakistani military has mounted ground operations elsewhere in the border region, it has been reluctant to do so in North Waziristan, saying its forces are stretched too thin. Some within Pakistan's military and intelligence establishment privately say an escalation in drone attacks in North Waziristan and recent cross-border incursions by NATO helicopter gunships are aimed at forcing the army into an operation.

However, the incursions have frayed relations between Pakistan and the U.S. and NATO. Pakistan has blocked its main border crossing to NATO supply trucks for the past four days in response to alleged incursions last week by NATO helicopters, including firing that shot dead three Pakistani paramilitary soldiers who had fired warning shots at the choppers.

Friday, October 1, 2010



They were three Muslim boys, from different parts of the world, with very different personalities.

Ferid Imam was an honours student from East Africa, an aspiring pharmacist and, according to his high-school soccer coach, “a dream player.” Muhannad al-Farekh hopped from Texas to the United Arab Emirates to Jordan to the Prairies. Miawand Yar, an ethnic Afghani born in Pakistan, was a schoolyard bully who was arrested for selling crack on his 20th birthday.

But in early 2007, instead of finishing their degrees at the University of Manitoba, the three friends boarded a plane bound for Pakistan via Europe. Their mysterious departure has sparked one of Canada’s most expensive and elaborate national security investigations since 9/11. Their flight has prompted CSIS agents to fan out around Winnipeg and the RCMP counterterrorism unit to pull in officers from across the country. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has dispatched agents to the Middle East as part of their hunt, and the young men have been the subject of secret briefings to U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Sources said they were next spotted in Peshawar – the gateway to the lawless tribal area bordering Afghanistan that is suspected of sheltering senior members of al-Qaeda. They were traced to the mountainous region of Waziristan, a magnet for insurgents and missile strikes from unmanned U.S. drones.

The Globe and Mail learned the identities of the missing students not from law enforcement officials but from members of Winnipeg’s Muslim community. Whispers about missing students came up when reporters started making inquiries about Hiva Alizadeh, the former Winnipegger who was charged in August with plotting to detonate bombs at unspecified sites in Canada. Those close to the missing students say they were not associates of Mr. Alizadeh, and national security sources say the two cases are not related.

None of them has been charged with a terrorism-related offence, but national security officials say the case may be an example of how unpredictable the radicalization process can be – it can take root in any part of the country, and latch on to a variety of personalities.

Ferid Imam came to Winnipeg when he was just seven years old. An East-African Muslim, he started school as an ESL student, but quickly integrated into a group of friends that included Chinese immigrants, Sikhs and what one of his family members described as white Canadians.

His wide toothy smile could be misleading; he didn’t tolerate foolish behaviour, and was self-disciplined. He never missed any of his five daily prayers, a relative says, but also never made a public display of his faith.

On the soccer pitch at Dakota Collegiate Institute, he was a rare combination of skill and maturity. A teammate, Michael Dempster, recalled the scolding he received from Ferid after he took a swing at an opposing player and received a four-game suspension.

“He pulled me aside and said ‘Mike, at the end of the day did this really matter? Was it that big a deal? It wasn’t cool – there are better ways to go about it,’ ” Mr. Dempster said.

When the team fell behind on the scoreboard, Ferid was always there to “pick up the pieces,” said Kevin Szajkowski, his coach at the time.

“He was outstanding in the way that he seemed like an old soul. He was older than his years,” the coach said.

About 12 kilometres away, in Winnipeg’s rough-and-tumble north end, Miawand Yar could be found in the schoolyard shaking down classmates for their lunch money.

Born in Pakistan to parents who fled their native Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion, the Yars came to Manitoba when Miawand was eight years old. He moved on from one junior school after he beat up two smaller students. In high school, he was unmotivated. “Most of the time he was just a couch potato playing his [video] games,” said one family member.

His studies in mechanical engineering at the University of Manitoba were disrupted on Aug. 13, 2003, when Miawand and several associates were accused of selling crack to an undercover police officer in a parking lot.

One of the arresting officers, Constable Sean Cassidy, later testified in a Winnipeg courtroom about how Miawand’s bag was stuffed so tightly with money and crack that it “almost exploded open” when he unzipped it.

The charges against him were later stayed by the Crown attorney’s office as the investigation spread out from the accused dealers on the street to the larger players in a suspected illegal drug syndicate.

His fortuitous legal turn coincided with some major life changes. He stopped going to the bars and ditched his old friends, including some characters who had been charged with, among other crimes, illegal possession of firearms and sexual assault.

He gravitated to Ferid, as well as Muhannad al-Farekh, a Texas-born business student who grew up in the UAE and was educated in Jordan. Miawand grew out his beard. His clothes changed from a hip-hop street style to more formal attire. On his head, he wore a white kufi.

“He was a completely changed man. In a good way, though. He was very humble,” said Rhodelle Magnayon, a computer engineering student. “He had his nose to the books, things like that. I thought, all the best to him. It could only look up from there.”

The trio volunteered, at least on paper, with the university’s Muslim Student Association – though other volunteers said Miawand and Muhannad did very little work. Ferid helped with the association’s annual conference, which featured a talk by a passionate and popular speaker, a British convert to Islam named Abdur Raheem Green.

If Ferid was once reserved about putting his faith on display, he shed that at university. On Feb. 23, 2006, in a posting on Mr. Green’s website, he lashed out at both Muslims and non-Muslims who were making light of the satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper.

“I think to use the word ‘controversy’ in describing the situation that started in Denmark is misleading,” he wrote. “I believe there is nothing controversy about it, they attacked our Prophet [peace be upon him] , who is Islam by himself. Thus, I like to think of this as a ‘crisis’ rather than a controversy.”

In December, 2006 – a few months before their disappearance – the three friends took part in the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and Islam’s holiest site, Mecca. Miawand’s family was upset that, upon his return, he didn’t visit to tell them about his experience.

They had no idea he was planning another trip that would cut off contact for nearly four years and counting.

The letter that arrived in the mail was addressed to Miawand’s brother. It was short on specifics, but in it the 24-year-old made a strange request: Please pay my student loans.

To some, this might have been a positive sign and an indication that he wanted to return. But, as any religious scholar would know, an Islamic dictum states that, in order to get to heaven, one needs to be free of debt.

His family turned to the police and filed a missing-persons report, but it was clear from the outset that this wasn’t going to be solved by posting their pictures on community bulletin boards. Authorities had subjected all three families to extensive interviews. In Abu Dhabi, Muhannad’s father, Mahmoud al-Farekh, not only gave statements to the RCMP and the FBI, but to the security service of the United Arab Emirates. When his son reached out to him with a brief phone call two years ago, his father passed the information onto the police. The elder al-Farekh would not disclose to The Globe what they discussed.

Initial glimmers of hope that they might be on some impulsive youthful foray have been gradually snuffed out; family members and friends say they haven’t heard anything else from them.

“You ask yourself – why didn’t he give us a call or let us know where he is? That makes it unbelievable,” said one of Ferid Imam’s relatives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We have no idea why he left. No one knows.”

Reached at his home in Abu Dhabi, Mahmoud al-Farekh said: “Did he go because he wanted to spread Islam or because he wanted to fight? I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever know.”

Although such disappearances are not a pervasive or widespread trend in Islamic communities in the West, there are similar, isolated cases of young men vanishing in other North American cities, such as Minneapolis. Several Toronto Somali parents have faced questions from CSIS after their sons disappeared.

In Winnipeg, the fallout has not been confined to family members.

Six University of Manitoba students, complaining of stress, turned to a Muslim leader for counselling after they received repeated visits from CSIS agents. Shahina Siddiqui, the executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association, said she tried to calm them and inform them of their rights while also reminding them that the authorities need to investigate.

“I see both sides of it. I see the side of CSIS and the RCMP, and I see the side of the community,” Ms. Siddiqui said.

Members of the Muslim community said the missing students have left everyone in a place that is equally frustrating for both questioner and respondent; friends and family must endure inquiries that they simply can’t answer. One Muslim student who was questioned by CSIS said he and his friends were eager to help at first, but found the agency’s inquiries to be unceasing. “That’s the most we can give,” he said with a sigh of exasperation.

One of Ferid’s relatives said he’s at a loss to explain how or why the young man changed. “You don’t see radicalization in a person,” he said. “Everything they do is in their head.”

*** One of the best articles on this subject to emerge - I mean it. As we read here, the journalists found out through the community not law enforcement. I cannot for the life of me understand why on one hand, we are reminded of how great a threat this is indeed, but on the other hand refuse to engage the community in a positive way and truly keep us safe by supporting and empowering those who can actually get the job done not just talk about it. MS ***