Saturday, June 03, 2006

Anti-Terror Raid in Canada Leads to Arrest of 17 Suspects

Relatives of the suspects arriving at a Brampton, Ontario Courthouse (Toronto Star)

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced the arrest of 17 suspects, including 5 minors today. Canadian authorities have heralded the arrest operation as a foiled terror attack. The arrested men are residents of Toronto, Mississauga (a suburb outside the city), and Kingston; most of them are apparently Canadian citizens. They are suspected of plotting to bomb targets in southern Ontario, including the headquarters of CSIS. The police recovered 3 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is apparently 3 times the quantity used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City (Source: Globe and Mail).

The Toronto Star reported that heavily-armed security forces guarded the courthouse and the police station where the suspects were arraigned. Ontario Provincial Police units with bomb-sniffing dogs patrolled the scene.

The adult suspects are: Fahim Ahmad, 21, of Toronto; Zakaria Amara, 20, of Mississauga; Asad Ansari, 21, of Mississauga; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, of Mississauga; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, of Mississauga; Mohammed Dirie, 22, of Kingston; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, of Kingston; Jahmaal James, 23, of Toronto; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, of Toronto; Steven Vikash Chand (alias Abdul Shakur), 25, of Toronto; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, of Mississauga; and Saad Khalid, 19, of Mississauga. The minors cannot be named under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act

On CBC, a commentator wondered "how it was possible that people who were born or raised in a liberal, tolerant, democratic, non-repressive society could plan such attacks."

Already criticism has been raised about the allegedly "wide net" cast by the police in the arrests. Muslim groups are complaining that their community is being unfairly targeted. But Tarek Fatah of the Muslim-Canadian Congress, speaking on CBC Radio, said that he was reassured about Metro Toronto police as well as the RCMP's sensitivity, and that he trusted that authorities would prevent a "backlash" against Muslim Canadians. Furthermore, he called on Muslim communities everywhere to stop extremists from advocating terrorism in the name of Islam. Fatah called the failure to stop such hate from springing up in Canada a "missed opportunity." Fatah has also written on Darfur and the misguided silence among many Muslim organizations about the killing (of Muslims by Muslims) there.

The RCMP sweep involved an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET), which brings together members of the RCMP, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Border Services, and Citizenship and Immigration, in addition to provincial and city police forces. If the charges prove correct, this should be seen as a major success for Canadian counter-terrorism in the post-9/11 era.

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