News agencies – January 4, 2013
When Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced the return to Canada of Omar Khadr in September 2012, he said he was confident that the convicted war criminal would receive “appropriate programming” in prison to ensure his safe re-integration into society. Yet, when Postmedia News submitted an access-to-information request for any records that relate to how the Correctional Service of Canada manages convicted terrorists and extremists, it was told that no such records exist. Observers say the government ought to have developed some kind of strategy by now for rehabilitating these unique inmates, given the earlier convictions in the “Toronto 18” terror case and the conviction of Ottawa terrorist Momin Khawaja.
“It is reasonable to expect that some thought should have gone into this,” said Jez Littlewood, director of the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at Carleton University. “Aside from Khadr, the 11 convictions in the TO-18 case and the Khawaja case, should have initiated some discussion or paperwork.”
In recent years, the correctional service’s own annual reports have highlighted the need to address this apparent gap in prison programming. Canada’s spy service, CSIS, has raised concerns about the spread of extremist views within the prison system, noting in a 2012 threat assessment that “studies have identified that Islamist extremists have been further radicalized in prisons in countries such as Canada.”
The National Post – February 16, 2012
A newly released intelligence report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warns that teenagers are being exposed to Islamist extremism in Canadian high schools. CSIS says that in two recent cases, suspects charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act “appear to have been radicalized in part while attending Canadian secondary school institutions.”
The appeal of extremism among youths is a key concern to Canadian counterterrorism officials, particularly since the 2006 arrests of the Toronto 18, whose members plotted truck bombings in Toronto and an assault on the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Since then, a handful of youths have left — or tried to leave — Canada for Pakistan and Somalia to join terrorist groups.
News Agencies – May 20, 2011
A high-profile CSIS and RCMP informant who was crucial to the prosecution in the “Toronto 18” terror plot is confident his name will be cleared after Canadian authorities flagged him to U.S. authorities as a potential security threat. Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks link Mubin Shaikh to those convicted in the case in a list provided to U.S. authorities for security databases and watchlists.
He was one of nine people flagged who were not arrested in connection with the thwarted terror plot, which aimed to attack Parliament Hill, power grids and other targets. Despite the absence of charges, the nine were still highlighted to U.S. authorities as presenting a terror threat. “My position is it’s a mistake,” Mr. Shaikh said.
News Agencies –
Ontario’s highest court has restored Canada’s anti-terror law to full strength and sent an unmistakable message that terrorists acting on Canadian soil “will pay a very heavy price.” The Ontario Court of Appeal released six major decisions in terrorism cases on 17 December 2010. In its leading judgment, the court dismissed an appeal from Ottawa software engineer Momin Khawaja, the first person convicted under Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation, increasing his sentence from 10 ½ years to life in prison.
The court also upheld — and, in two instances, increased — prison terms handed to three members of the Toronto 18 in connection with the plan to detonate bombs at the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) headquarters on Front Street and an unspecified military base east of Toronto.
The Globe and Mail – October 6, 2010
Child-pornography charges have been dropped against a Canadian Muslim preacher, with a judge ruling that “threats and intimidation” by the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) agents railroaded the man into handing over evidence. In 2007, Brampton’s Ayad Mejid had had enough of a long-standing CSIS 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 October 6th,, 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. 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.
The Globe and Mail – October 1, 2010
Three young Canadian Muslim men have gone missing. Searches are underway. The first, Ferid Imam was an honours student from East Africa, an aspiring pharmacist and, according to his high-school soccer coach, “a dream player.” The second, Muhannad al-Farekh hopped from Texas to the United Arab Emirates to Jordan to the Prairies. And the third, Miawand Yar, an ethnic Afghani born in Pakistan, was a schoolyard bully who was arrested for selling crack on his 20th birthday.
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. 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. 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.
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.
The actions of Canadian spies and apparent indifference to the fate of trucker Ahmad El Maati “likely contributed indirectly” to his torture, writes former Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci.
The comments come in a once-secret supplement to Iacobucci’s 2008 report on the overseas imprisonment and torture of El Maati and two other Arab-Canadian men in cases eerily reminiscent to that of Maher Arar. The supplemental report was released after federal objections to its disclosure were “resolved” following more than a year of legal wrangling about whether national security would be harmed.
The report raises new concerns about how, in the post-9/11 era, Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials chucked aside human rights in their zeal to safeguard national security.
El Maati, who said he was repeatedly questioned on what he says were false confessions induced under torture in Syria, had been transferred to Egypt in January 2002 after a two-month detention in Syria. El Maati says he bears the physical and psychological scars of Egyptian interrogations. CSIS admitted to Iacobucci that it was aware of El Maati’s claims of mistreatment in Syria, and considered the possibility that further Canadian questioning could provoke more trouble for him in Egypt.
Lacobucci says there was a hands-off approach to the issue of torture by the anti-terror agencies. El Maati’s plight and that of the two other men – Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin – is remarkably similar to that of Arar. Like Arar, the three men, who deny any involvement in terrorism, were all abused in Syrian prisons. The three men are now suing the Canadian government. The federal Conservative government settled with Arar for $10.5 million in compensation. But it has yet to apologize to the other three.
Five friends, in their early to mid-20s, grew up and attended schools in Toronto, Canada. They spoke English and Somali. At least two of them were university students.The Star has learned Canadian intelligence officials were watching at least one of the young men several months before he mysteriously left home.
Mahad Dhorre, Mustafa Mohamed, Mohamed Abscir and a fourth we know only as Ahmed vanished the first week of November. A fifth, Ahmed Elmi, left his home in Scarborough about three months ago. A sixth man, an Afghan, who worshipped at the same mosque, is also reportedly missing.
Online propaganda – a mix of nationalist sentiment, religious ideology and tough talk – is enough to recruit young Somali men looking for a purpose and willing to take up arms in their homeland, say community leaders in Canada and the US RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers are investigating the disappearances, canvassing areas in Little Mogadishu and questioning families. Of the 20 or so Somali-Americans who have gone missing, at least five have been killed in Somalia. One died in a suicide bombing in October 2008, part of coordinated attacks that killed 20 people.
Abousfian Abdelrazik ended six years in exile in Sudan, where he faced torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, several thwarted attempts to return and spent over a year stranded at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan but fled the country in 1990. He received refugee status in Canada in 1992 and Canadian citizenship in 1995. In 2003, Mr. Abdelrazik traveled back to the country to visit his ailing mother. He was repeatedly imprisoned by Sudanese authorities and tried to return to Canada several times but was denied a passport because he was put on a United Nations no-fly list at the request of the United States.
Both CSIS and the RCMP have said publicly that they have no evidence that Mr. Abdelrazik has been involved in terrorist activities.
The Canada Border Services Agency told the Canadian Federal Court that a terror suspect’s Ottawa house was raided last month to see if he was complying with bail conditions. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says Mr. Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, is an Islamic extremist and member of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.
Sixteen border service and police officers, accompanied by three sniffer dogs, spent six hours last month searching the house from top to bottom in the surprise raid. Mr. Harkat’s lawyers consider the raid illegal and abusive, and the Federal Court is looking at whether the operation strayed outside the law. Court proceedings will take place in the next few months.