Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

Cold Terror:
How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the World
By Stewart Bell, John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd. 243 pp
Reviewed by Harry Antonides
January 24, 2005
 

…[W]hen we write the history of the past 30 years of Canadian national life, it will be in substantial part a sad story of squandered opportunities and decline. It will be a story… of the decay of civic spirit, of the full flowering of our national penchant for self-delusion, complacency and mediocrity.(Michael Bliss, National Post, November 30, 2001) 

The story told here by a veteran investigative reporter is deeply disturbing. For it explores the dark corners, where criminals and terrorists are thriving - assisted by their enablers who live among us. 

Stewart Bell has done his homework well and is able to show how and why Canada has become a favourite hiding and support base for some very unsavoury characters and movements. 

Not surprisingly, Bell has aroused the anger of those he writes about. He reports that after he wrote an article about Islamic terrorism, he received more than three thousand e-mails in one day. One left no doubt about his intentions; he wrote “I kill you if I find you.” 

You may ask: How can these things be happening in this our “peaceable kingdom”? After all, are we not the envy of the world in having mastered the art of building a multicultural society where all the races and religions of the world mix in wonderful harmony and tolerance? 

The land of the Trusting Fools?

Ironically, it is this naïve faith in the ideal of a non-existent harmony that serves as a convenient cover for those who plot their evil schemes. For it has blinded this country’s political leaders to the brutal facts laid bare in this book. 

 What is worse, Bell reports that Canadian politicians have played up to known terrorist front organizations in order to secure the votes in certain ethnic communities.

As one Russian security official (who should be well versed in skullduggery) once told an RCMP officer that Canada is “the land of the trusting fools.” 

Cold Terror tackles two difficult assignments. The first is exposing those who abuse Canada’s freedom and hospitality to support terrorist organizations. The second is alerting an apathetic citizenry and its political leadership to the ugly reality. 

These are the kind of tasks that would scare most people away – as in fact they have.  But not Stewart Bell.  Instead, he exposes in numbing detail the complicated networks of terrorism that have their tentacles right into this country.  

Terrorism in Canada Pre-Dates Al Qaeda

Since September 9, 2001 our attention has been focused on Middle Eastern terrorism. But other terrorists and their sympathizers have used Canada as a rich source of funding and planning well before that time. 

The first major international terrorist incident in Canada described in Cold Terror occurred on April 8, 1982 when Kani Gungor, the Turkish commercial attaché was shot while walking to his car in the parking garage of his Ottawa apartment. He survived but was left paralyzed. Three members of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) were later arrested, found guilty and sentenced to two, eight and nine years prison terms. The youngest, Haig Gharakhanian was paroled nine months into his two-year sentence, ordered deported in 1991, but had his deportation order lifted and was allowed to remain in Canada. 

Later in 1982 other Armenian terrorists killed the Turkish military attaché and a security guard at the residence of the Turkish ambassador in Ottawa. 

In every case, the murderers got off with relatively light sentences.  Nicoghas Moumdjian, an associate of the assassins who had obtained materials for an explosive device and believed in the indiscriminate use of violence, was ordered deported. But the Canadian Civil Liberties Association intervened arguing that it was unconstitutional to deport someone because he is a member of an organization. A year ago Moumdjian was still in Canada. 

These attacks by ASALA members in Canada were met not with resolve, but with sympathy, writes Bell. He is convinced that this set the stage for the Canadian response that did not bode well for the future. 

Cold Terror takes a detailed look at the murderous practices of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE - or Tamil Tigers) who are fighting a guerilla war against the Sinhalese majority government of Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Since the start of that war in 1983 more than 62,000 people have been killed and, according to Bell, has “left one of Britain’s most promising former colonies locked in a ruinous ethnic standoff.” 

The Tamil Tigers have developed a sophisticated network of fundraising and propaganda in Canada by a variety of means such as  government grants, front companies, fraud of every type, migrant smuggling and drugs.” One CSIS report puts the amount raised by the Tigers at one million dollars per month. A May 1999 intelligence report stated, “Canada is the LTTE’s largest foreign base of operations.” 

Bell reports on a public “Victory Celebration” at Queen’s Park in Toronto, where speakers extolled the Tamils’ violent civil war in Sri Lanka purportedly to right the wrongs of a thousand years. These speeches glorified martyrdom and fomented ethnic hatred and, as Bell points out, they are a ”truly shocking assault on Canadian values. That such an event could take place within Canada, openly and without consequence, seems to defy common sense.” This apparently did not dawn on the Liberal M.P. of Scarborough-Agincourt who was one of the guest speakers at this hatred-nurturing event. 

Air India Flight 182 Destroyed

Another source of violence is festering among extremist Sikhs in British Columbia who are importing one of the bitter conflicts in India into this country. The moderate editor of the Indo-Canadian Times was murdered for his views in 1986. 

But the most spectacular terrorist act traced to Canadian Sikhs was the destruction of Canadian Civil Liberties Association on June 23, 1985. This flight originating in Vancouver with destination Delhi crashed into the sea off the coast of Ireland, killing all three hundred and thirty-one passengers and crew. It was the worst terrorist attack in modern history, a record that would stand until Al Qaeda fanatics attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. 

Canadian security personnel who had been keeping a close eye on leaders of the radical Sikh organizations in British Columbia immediately knew that this was an act of terrorism. They succeeded in tracing the explosives and the timing device used in the destruction of Flight 182 to members of the Sikh community in British Columbia. 

One of the main suspects, Talwinder Singh Parmar, a Sikh priest, had been under surveillance by the newly established Canadian Security Intelligence Service. But the investigative work was bungled by lack of cooperation between the RCMP and CSIS and careless handling of intercepted telephone conversations. (Parmar was killed in October 1992 in a confrontation with police in Jalandhar, Punjab.). Now nearly 20 years after this heinous deed, the British Columbia Supreme Court just concluded one of the costliest and longest (19 months) trial of two alleged bombers. 

Partisans in the Name of God

The most sophisticated and most dangerous terrorist organizations with connections in Canada are the ones that have sprouted in the Middle East, notably Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the al Qaeda network. What distinguishes them is their single-minded Islamist zealotry. While some of them concentrate on one region, al Qaeda is aimed at a broader target, namely, the entire democratic West, especially the United States as the major homeland of the infidels, and Israel. 

In the chapter “Partisans of God,” which is the English translation of “Hezbollah,” Bell traces a number of persons, including Canadian citizens, who serve as agents of Hezbollah in Canada.  Some are sent here to serve as sleeper agents; others raise significant sums of money, buy equipment needed for its fighters, and engage in smuggling cigarettes and stealing automobiles. 

Fauzi Ayub, a father of three, is a known terrorist who arrived in Canada in 1988 and obtained Canadian citizenship. Prior to that, he had been imprisoned in Bucharest for his involvement in an airplane hijacking attempt. Aided by his Canadian passport, he traveled widely to assist in Hezbollah recruitment and to plan attacks in various parts of the world. 

Ayub received extensive training by Islamic Jihad in Beirut and was sent out, re-named Frank Bushy, with a counterfeit American passport.  He was caught by the Israelis in June 2002 and imprisoned. In January 2004 Ayub was sent to Germany and with 27 others handed over to Hezbollah in exchange for the release of an Israeli businessman and the bodies of three Israeli servicemen. 

Fateh Kamel, a forty-year old Canadian with a wife and son in Montreal, arrived in Canada in 1987. He served as the leader of the Canadian cell of the Algerian extremist network, and spent time in various trouble spots where jihadists were active. In February 2001 he was accused in a Paris court room of  participating in a criminal association for the purposes of preparing acts of terrorism” and two counts of trafficking in fake passports for Islamic militants. He was convicted on all counts and sentenced to eight years in prison. 

Algerian-born Ahmed Ressam lived in Montreal and was a member of the Kamel group.  He received world attention when caught with explosives in his car while crossing into the U. S. at the British Columbia -Washington border in December 1999 on his way to blow up the Los Angeles airport. 

The best-known Canadian Islamist family is that of Ahmed Said Khadr, who spent much time in Pakistan, allegedly engaged in relief work. The truth is that he was closely allied with Osama bin Laden and that he and his sons were active in al-Qaeda. The patriarch died in a gunfight with Pakistani troops in October 2003. His fifteen-year old son Abdul-Karim was paralyzed from the waist down in the same fight, and is now recuperating courtesy of the Canadian health care system. His other son Omar fought with the Taliban and killed American medic Christopher Speer in July 2002. He is now held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Their mother once stated that she would be proud if all her sons died as jihadist martyrs. 

This is a small sample of many more listed in this book who are abusing Canada’s openness to turn it into a base from which to export terror to other parts of the world. Bell is right to trace the problem back to our heedless political and other elites. But he also reminds us that public indifference is at fault. 

So the buck stops with you and me too. The shocking revelations in this book are a timely antidote to what professor Bliss describes as “the national penchant for self-delusion, complacency and mediocrity,” quoted at the beginning of this article. This is the book to read and ponder by all who are truly concerned about the well-being of this as yet so privileged country.