Sunday, June 04, 2006

Capacity and Intent

The amount of explosives recovered from the raid that netted a total of 17 suspects was three times the amount of ammonium nitrate used in the Oklahoma City bombing. As the Royal Mounted Canadian Police noted, the suspects had the capacity and intent to carry out a terrorist act. With that quantity, they could have done extreme damage.
The group acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate - three times the amount used to blow up the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injured more than 800, said assistant Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner Mike McDonell.

The fertilizer can be mixed with fuel oil or other ingredients to make a bomb.

"This group posed a real and serious threat," McDonell said. "It had the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks."

Luc Portelance, assistant director of operations with Canada's spy agency, CSIS, said the suspects "appeared to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaida" but that investigators have yet to prove a link to the terror network.

The Mounties had to act quickly, because the suspects were so close to being able to carry out attacks.

The worrisome part is that while this group was apparently acting alone, they had ties to other worldwide jihadist groups, as a long term investigation has showed:
A Canadian counter-terrorism investigation that led to the arrests of 17 people accused of plotting bombings in Ontario is linked to probes in a half-dozen countries, the National Post has learned.

Well before police tactical teams began their sweeps around Toronto on Friday, at least 18 related arrests had already taken place in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh.

The six-month RCMP investigation, called Project OSage, is one of several overlapping probes that include an FBI case called Operation Northern Exposure and a British probe known as Operation Mazhar.
Far from targeting these individuals on the basis of their race or religious affiliation, it appears that this group was targeted by the authorities because they were jihadis who were intent upon committing terrorist acts. Of course, the local imam have rushed before the cameras to claim bias; claiming that just because someone has forged documents in their possession one is not linked to an international terrorist group.
Aly Hindy, an imam of an Islamic center that houses a school and a mosque and has been monitored by security agencies for years. He said he knows nine of the suspects and that Muslims once again were being falsely accused.

"It's not terrorism. It could be some criminal activity with a few guys, that's all," said Hindy. "We are the ones always accused. Somebody fakes a document and they are an international terrorist forging documents for al-Qaida."

Rocco Galati, lawyer for two suspects from Mississauga, said his client Ahmad Ghany, 21, is a health sciences graduate from McMaster University in Hamilton. He was born in Canada, the son of a medical doctor who emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago.

Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, is a computer programmer who emigrated from Egypt 20 years ago with his father, now an engineer with a nuclear utilities services company, the lawyer said.
So, what is a health sciences graduate doing running around with someone with forged documents and three tons of ammonium nitrate? A computer engineer needs three tons of ammonium nitrate? And what about the other documents and weapons captured in the raid?

This is a threat that extends across borders:
The Toronto busts are linked to arrests that began last August at a Canadian border post near Niagara Falls and continued in October in Sarajevo, London and Scandinavia, and earlier this year in New York and Georgia.

The FBI confirmed Saturday the arrests were related to the recent indictments in the U.S. of Ehsanul Sadequee and Syed Ahmed, who are accused of meeting with extremists in Toronto last March to discuss terrorist training and plots.

“There is preliminary indication that some of the Canadian subjects may have had limited contact with the two people recently arrested from Georgia,” Special Agent Richard Kolko, the FBI spokesman, said in an e-mail to the National Post.

The intricate web of connections between Toronto, London, Atlanta, Sarajevo, Dhaka, and elsewhere illustrates the challenge confronting counter-terrorism investigators almost five years after 9/11.

Linking the international probes are online communications, phone calls and in particular videotapes that authorities allege show some of the targets the young extremists considered blowing up.
Ace wants to know why the Left is silent about the major terrorism bust in Canada. Good question. Maybe it doesn't fit the narrative.

The Canadian ring may have had US contacts. We're learning that this Canadian group was linked to a bunch of other cells around the world, so it isn't surprising that they may have links to individuals in the US. I wonder if they got picked up by the NSA program designed to intercept such communications? Texas Rainmaker and Stop the ACLU are also curious about that aspect. Did the Canadians monitor communications in the same fashion as the Left's widely reviled NSA programs?

Don Surber thinks that the Canadians just avoided their own version of 9/11. Or 7/7. Or another date that would have gone down in infamy but for the hard work of law enforcement and intel agencies uncovering this threat.

Others blogging with huge roundups: Michelle Malkin, Pajamas Media, Ed Driscoll, Flopping Aces, Sexion, and Gina Cobb.

Kim Priestap notes that the Canadian arrests were related to arrests of 18 individuals in places as diverse as elsewhere in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh.

Ed Morrissey notes that the Mounties went undercover to help take this cell down. And they took their time in doing so such that they only moved when this group went beyond mere words and proceeded into actual preparations. No doubt that some of those arrested will claim entrapment. As if their words and deeds towards jihad and terrorism are excused because the Mounties happened to infiltrate a terror cell.

Chris Storms, among others notes the broad strata of those who were arrested, 12 of whom have already requested korans for their stay in jail.

Still others blogging: Don Singleton,

And we have the first stirrings of a response to the arrests from the left. Not that Barbara O'Brien's actually commenting on the arrests and their significance, but on the right's crowing about the use of electronic surveillance to track down these threats. Curious.

The fact remains is that electronic surveillance appears to have been a crucial part of connecting the dots that led to the arrests. Those arrests included individuals in a number of countries, including in the US. It is entirely possible - though not stated in any of the articles, that the NSA surveillance programs, like Echelon or its progeny, or its contemporary programs run by other countries (like Canada - who is under no restriction on spying on US citizens here in the US - since they're a foreign country) were useful and crucial to breaking this cell.

Still others blogging: Steve at Outside the Beltway is concerned about Malkin's focusing on the broad strata comment. There's good reason to wonder about how the media is labeling the individuals involved. Are they part of a broad strata, or are there specific characteristics that can help identify potential jihadis. The group arrested in Canada appears to have been middle class; not exactly the kind of rabble that the left claims are being forced to engage in terrorism against the West because they're poor and oppressed.

Tigerhawk makes a number of salient points:
First, we trust this puts to rest the idea that it is American policy that is at the roots of jihadi terrorism. With the exception of its small peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan, Canada neither participates in nor supports the American policies to which the jihadis object. Canada is a target because it is a Western country that has admitted and shown great tolerance toward a significant Muslim community.

Pundit Guy, Belmont Club, Junkyard Blog, and memeorandum (keep scrolling) all are covering this story.

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