Not any more

Extremist groups under watch: Toews

In Canada on September 2, 2010 at 07:52

The alleged Ottawa terrorist cell dismantled last week by police is just one of several homegrown extremist groups currently under investigation, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said on Wednesday.

Asked whether Canadian security agencies were probing other homegrown threats, the Minister alluded to CSIS Director Richard Fadden’s testimony that the agency was monitoring about 200 terror suspects.

“So the issue posed by this particular incident I don’t think is necessarily unique, and certainly there is the potential for more of these kinds of issues,” he told the National Post in an interview. “That’s, I think, as much as I can say. So this is not an isolated event.”

Last Wednesday, the RCMP and Ottawa police arrested Hiva Mohammed Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, in the nation’s capital. Khurram Syed Sher, a 28-year-old physician, was arrested the next day in London, Ont.

All three Canadians face charges of terrorism conspiracy over an alleged bomb plot. Mr. Alizadeh, the suspected ringleader, was also charged with possessing more than 50 electronic devices for detonating explosives.

The RCMP said Mr. Alizadeh was arrested to prevent him from financing an insurgent group fighting Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. The alleged crimes occurred in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Dubai.

On Wednesday, the Daily Times newspaper in Pakistan reported that a leader of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, was the suspected “brains” behind the Ottawa plot. “We support anyone who would fight the infidels,” the newspaper quoted TTP spokesman Azam Tariq as saying.

The paper said the Pakistani investigation was focused on a friend of Faisal Shahzad, who tried unsuccessfully to detonate a car bomb at Times Square on May 1.

The same newspaper claimed Pakistani intelligence had tipped off Canada about the Ottawa plot. But Canadian officials said the Pakistani media reports were wrong. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have been widely accused of tacitly aiding the Taliban and other regional Islamist militant groups.

The three Ottawa suspects appeared in court by video link yesterday. A Sept. 15 bail hearing was scheduled for Mr. Ahmed, while Mr. Sher returns to court Sept. 3 and Mr. Alizadeh’s next appearance in Sept. 16.

Three alleged foreign co-conspirators — James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta —have not been charged. A seventh man remains in custody on domestic assault and threatening charges but he has not been charged with terror-related offences.

In a speech in Halifax yesterday, Mr. Toews called homegrown terrorism a “great concern” as Canada and the United States try to improve the flow of goods and people across the border while still safeguarding citizens.

Later in an interview, he said he had held discussions with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano about how best to deal with homegrown radicalization, a problem shared by both countries and their European allies.

“Basically, every Western democracy that opens its doors to immigrants and refugees, we all face the same problem. We face this almost disbelief that someone, one of our own countrymen essentially, is involved in activities that would destroy their fellow citizens.

“That is a very difficult thing for many people to understand. And we need to understand the roots of that radicalization and then how to deal with it in a more proactive manner.”

He said police and intelligence agencies could not solve the problem alone and that the government would try to develop better relationships with communities vulnerable to radicalization. He said the RCMP was ideally placed to nurture those relationships.

Liberal MP Mark Holland, the opposition Public Safety critic, said the government should start by implementing the recommendations of public inquiries into the post-9/11 conduct of the RCMP and CSIS.

He also said there is a problem of reputation. “When you need to work with different communities, that’s severely undermined when the government still hasn’t apologized for the mistakes and errors that were made.”

National Post

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