April Terror Part II

April Terror Part II
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It seems terrorism is going to remain in the headlines for a little while longer — at least in Canada.

On Monday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police made a surprise announcement that they had successfully foiled a potentially deadly plot to blow up a Toronto-area passenger train. Two men with apparent al-Qaeda ties were arrested, making this the first time the fundamentalist terrorist group has directly targeted Canada (or at least the first time we’ve known about it).

According to press reports, the two suspects — both recent Canadian immigrants from the Mideast — planned to kill a bunch of people traveling on a joint Amtrack-VIA Rail line from Manhattan to Toronto once they crossed the Canadian border. It’s not clear when or where exactly the attack was scheduled to occur. The train companies and law enforcement have been at pains to emphasize there was “no immediate threat” to anyone, thanks to the swift work of multiple law enforcement agencies.

This morning, the two men made their first formal court appearances to face charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to murder. The older of the two, Raed Jaser a Palestinian living in Toronto with United Arab Emirates citizenship, made no plea, nor did Tunisian-born Montrealer Chiheb Esseghaier a few hours later. Both men will remain in custody until their next court appearances, which reporting suggests will come sometime in late May.

Anecdotal biographies of the two suspects are still being pieced together, but in contrast to last week’s Boston bombers, Canada’s terrorist wannabes appear to have been fairly unambiguous in their religious zealotry. Both wore long robes and beards to their hearings; Jaser with similarly conservatively-dressed relatives in tow.

Esseghaier was a foreign student attending Quebec University who classmates have claimed was constantly offended by the decadent liberalism of Canadian society he saw around him. If that’s too subtle for you, he also used the al-Qaeda flag as his profile pic on LinkedIn. Jaser’s background remains more mysterious, but early reporting makes him sound like something of a loner weirdo, who kept his blinds drawn at all hours, had no apparent job, and concealed his wife in a head-to-toe black chador.

In any case, the radicalism of the men was apparently visible enough to worry one of their imams, whose tattling to the RCMP is now considered a crucial break in bringing down their plot. The Mounties actually went out of their way to thank and brief local Muslim leaders prior to their Monday afternoon presser, lest anyone be caught off guard.

It’s the al-Qaeda dimension of the case that’s most fascinating, however. According to RCMP officials, the train bomb suspects received “direction and guidance” from “al-Qaeda elements” in Iran, an accusation that has left some lay observers scratching their heads. Isn’t Shiite Iran supposed to hate Sunni al-Qaeda — and vice-versa?

Maybe in theory, responds Bin Laden expert Peter Bergen at CNN, but in practice the two have a relationship that’s closer to “some kind of a marriage of convenience.” Ironically, Bergen had just written an insightful essay about the complex Iran-al Qaeda connection a few weeks prior, in which he noted that several key Bin Laden allies and relatives have been enjoying safe (if indifferent) haven in Iran for many years, and, in 2003, even organized a string of terrorist attacks against Saudi Arabia from the country.

While no one’s yet alleged that the Iranian government played an active role organizing the would-be Canadian train bombings — an accusation the Ahmadinejad regime has already preemptively dismissed as “hilarious” — the fact that Iran did nothing to actively stop it either is likely to only further damage Ottawa-Tehran relations.

The Harper administration (or as the Iranians call it, “the extremist Canadian government”) cut all diplomatic ties with Iran last year, and is considered to be one of the western world’s more warmongery voices against the mullahs. This, coupled with the fact that the Conservative Party was already in the process of passing a bevy of new anti-terrorism laws when the train plot was uncovered has some Canadian observers fretting that this whole episode is just ripe for political exploitation at the hands of a government still anachronistically obsessed with the War on Terror.

Personally, I’m more troubled by some of the exploitations in the other direction, whether it be Justin Trudeau’s ignorant musings on the importance of addressing the “root causes” of terrorism (root causes like “social exclusion” which, as David Frum notes, was coincidentally “one of the social ills against which he was campaigning” in his bid for Liberal boss) or the grotesque tweets of the famously anti-American Liberal Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette (or at least her staff), which blamed the Prime Minister’s “Republican policies” for provoking terrorism against Canada.

The Canadian left has too often embraced a sort of blissful denialism when it comes to Canada’s attractiveness as a terrorist target; security experts have even argued the trendy belief that Islamic radicals “only hate America” represents a significant domestic security security liability. The breaking up of an arguably worse domestic terrorist plot in 2006, the so-called Toronto 18 conspiracy to detonate a series of truck bombs at a Canadian military base, CSIS headquarters, and the Toronto Stock exchange, failed to make much of a lasting impact on the Canadian psyche, and one fears this latest plot — hashtag or not — will be much the same.

Vigilance against Islamist terror in Canada doesn’t require fearmongering and it doesn’t require a police state, but it does require honest awareness of the existence of a threat that’s neither patriotically convenient nor politically rational.
Bloodless stings like Monday’s are gentle reminders. It’s a testament only to the skills of Canadian law enforcement that we’ve never received a harsher one.


  1. Dan

    If you have the al-Qaeda flag as your LinkedIn profile picture, what do you list for skills and qualifications?

  2. Colin Minich

    "Explosive and kinetic" personality.

  3. Colin Minich

    The rabid ignorance behind people like Hervieux-Payette is that of the same with Americans and the perceived ignorance that Chechen extremists only have a beef with Russia and no other Westerner and that in her case America asks for what it gets and Canada's government is mimicking the same sort of "deserved" treatment. That's hardly the case considering how ISAF has discovered Chechen fighters and volunteers (both living and shot to pieces) during engagements in Afghanistan and how we're discovering again that it is the WEST that they rail against. It's the sort of behavior that breeds thoughts like Russians or Israelis "getting what they deserve" when attacked. Well, anyone who thought that with Russia is now getting a fat smile from Vladimir Putin followed by "I told you so." And while elsewhere I was mistaken in the belief that there were angry calls against open immigration in Canada (I later discovered this applied more to refugees Sri Lanka e.g.), it does however call into question just how thorough we have to be in vigilance and surveillance on people coming in and out of our area.

  4. Jake_Ackers

    One thing is this. People think because the US is the US and is in the Middle East and support Israel they are hated. This belief comes largely from Osama's open letter to the West in which he stated The US involvement in the Mid East plus it's support for Israel. Yet they never read past those two points. The third point is, no matter what, they will keep attacking EVERYONE that isn't their brand of Islam. Whether it be follow Muslims or Westerners. Radical Islam is at war with the world. Yet the world thinks only the US should be fighting.

  5. Andrew

    Greatest reference to a previous comic ever

  6. Jerdon

    I was about to say the same thing.

  7. Colin Minich

    And it gets better: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/24/us-arre

    I would love to see the Canadian's version of a leftist or ultra-liberal have to say about this sort of garbage.

  8. Yannick

    " It’s a testament only to the skills of Canadian law enforcement that we’ve never received a harsher one."

    Or you know, a testament to the imams who blew the whistle on these dangerous criminals.

  9. Yannick

    Or as someone else put it better than me –

    If it weren't for the Muslim community this plot would have been successful.

    People need to realize that it wasn't expanded police powers, nationalist immigration policy or forfeiting of our civil rights that prevented this attack.

    It was information from a community comfortable and Canadian enough to do the right thing and tip off the RCMP. That community was Muslim, we should all be proud today of those Muslim Canadians."

  10. Mikkel

    JJ, I seem to remeber an article of yours about the future of conservatism, in which you speculated on non-traditionally conservative minorities like Jews and homosexuals joining the right wing cause in reaction to the forces of leftism, multiculturalism and Islamism. Maybe it wasn't you who wrote it, but this cartoon brings it to mind. In any case, my friends and I have been debating the prospect of a John Baird first ministry, and I thought that article would be useful, though I can't seem to find it.

  11. Mikkel

    Well, not so much the cartoon, but the commentary that takes the left to task for wavering on Islamism.

  12. Yannick

    The "left-wing multiculturalist" approach, such as it is, is the one that does not treat the totality of muslims as perpetual internal enemies because of the action of a handful.

    Because of this integrationist policy, the muslim imams felt comfortable enough (and not foreign) to report the would-be terrorists that were caught in Canada.

    Left-wing wavering is to credit for the foiling of this plot.

  13. Colin Minich

    Crediting multiculturalism is stupid. Instead, credit rational assimilation into host nation laws and cultures by rationally-minded immigrants who respectfully do as the Romans do. That's the right way of doing it, not this naively-European/Scandinavian belief that multiculturalism is the greatest thing since sliced bread..

    Multiculturalism is by and large a bad idea because if anything that would have instead bred an innate need to shelter fellow Muslims even if radical and force the Canadian authorities to butt out of their own little niche. But please, continue to mitigate the effectiveness of the RCMP.

  14. Yannick

    You really don''t get it, huh?

    Multi-culturalism isn't what you think it is. It's rather this idea that one can immigrate to another country without having to leave one's identity at the door.

    It means that instead of feeling like they're perpetually treated like outsiders for hanging on to some of their culture and religion, they can instead feel like they're Canadians like the rest of us, except that they practice Islam.

    It means that instead of feeling only frustration against their host, they feel attachment.and turned those guys in.

    In short, multi-culturalism is what got those would-be terrorists captured.

    You sound like a Bill 101 Quebecer with your talk of "rational assimilation".

  15. Colin Minich

    Well then you might want to tell that to Europe, because so far their attempts have brought on some spectacular failures i.e. radical Pakistani community in the UK or Scandinavia/Low Countries' issues handling radical Islam.

    And no, obeisance to the LAW of the nation is what got them captured.

  16. Jake_Ackers

    You are all falling into this political word trap. Talking past each other. It's the mixing pot versus the melting pot. Melting pot is when you add your culture to the existing culture and become part of it as well as take in it. Mixing pot, is you are part of the country but you still can pick out the individual things.

    For example, following Sharia law versus the Constitution. Allowing their 8 year old daughters to marry, well forcing them to marry. Mutilating women's body parts. Beating a girl to death for dating a local. Beating a girl for being raped.

    If you beat your daughter because she dated a local boy then you know for sure they haven't assimilated. The rest is obvious. The German Chancellor admitted that multiculturalism is dead. What you are referring to Yannick, is a melting pot, adding your culture to ours. What Minich is saying, is more a mixing pot in which you come to our country and don't learn the language, still have the ignorant customs, and completely don't bother following our laws.

    These people came to our country out of their own free will. They weren't enslaved like the blacks or exterminated like the natives. If they don't like our laws, there is plenty of land in which they can live that has Sharia law. Problem is those lands, don't have water, electricity or modern medicine. They want our way of life? Then live by it. Yet, they simply refuse to. Can't have your cake and eat it too.

  17. Yannick

    The image that "Melting Pot" brings to my mind is that in order to be accepted, immigrants have to don on "I love Canada" T-shirts, eat burgers and speak to each other in broken English. Preferably abandon their religion too, or at least any bits of it that might offend us.

    "Welcome to Canada, please leave your identity at the door."

    Obviously people who come here have to abide by the laws of the country, but which of our immigrants don't? A handful, like these guys and the man who killed his family in montreal as a honour killing. But the massive majority of our immigrants work productive lives and abide by our laws.

    I believe this is because we are by and large accepting of other cultures. And that means accepting that people who move over here might speak to each other in arabic, be practicing muslims, and eat halal food.

  18. Jake_Ackers

    I agree. However, they can speak Arabic at home but must know perfect English. I'm a first generation American and I am pretty assimilated. Even though I speak another language at home and love soccer as well as most other sports. Yet, I'll bleed for the Red, White and Blue. But I also follow our Constitution and know perfect English.

    Yet, my father doesn't know English. Doesn't know much about our Constitution. Heck he doesn't know were most states are on a map. And all that pisses me off of course. However, I'm not saying you have to eat a hotdog at a baseball game. But the most obvious is when people do not learn English. Followed by not understanding our Constitution. Especially, when people come to the US/Canada and then say "In my country, we don't/do …" Rats to your country. If your country was so great why are you here?

    It happens cross border too. Canadian actors move to the US and then attack our guns. If an American moved to Canada and attacked universal healthcare, what do you think people would say? Guns is fundamentally part of the US as is universal healthcare a key part of the Canadian way. Going to that country (US or Canada) and attacking specific things like maple syrup or apple pie just pisses me off. You can eat halal food but don't go around saying hotdogs or apple pie is horrid if you won't even try it.

    It's more an attitude toward the country than culture differences. People refuse to let go of their previous national identity for fear of losing their culture. I welcome new cultures. After all I am a first generation American and the child of former illegals. You can call yourself American but keep your culture. In fact adopt some new things. How about not going crazy if your daughter dates a "white boy." We had a Civil War to stop racism and Civil Rights Movement to stop racism and ignorance like that. Or go crazy because American women show their ankles and demand they all cover up. Want to cover up yourself? Fine. But don't go around saying the US this or that or that in your country you aren't like this. Again it's attitude.

    You would be surprised how many kids of immigrants I know that if you ask their nationality they won't say American. They will fly the flag of their parent's country but won't fly the domestic flag. They will cheer for another national team during the Olympics but not the US or Canada. It's the most annoying thing. Especially when they think Mexico still owns the southwest US. Or that Chinatown has it's own pseudo-Mayor and it's own pseudo court. Culture is one thing but once you come to the US or Canada, you better fly the Red, White, or Blue or simply be quiet about it. Again it's attitude.

  19. Rachel Bush

    I agree completely.

    "Twenty-eight percent hope for the U.K. one day to become a fundamentalist Islamic state." I don't quite understand how these statistics among immigrants are happening…

  20. Jake_Ackers

    11% of Muslims in the US were sympathetic to the terrorist acts or terrorist groups, something like that. I read it during one of my polisci classes about polls.

    Now the poll I stated and yours point out to an extreme. Imagine how many simply just won't support the country they live in, in sports, laws, etc. etc. There is a massive lack of not just assimilation but assimilation in forms of patriotism. If you aren't patriotic, at least don't support another country.

    It's like I live in your house because mine has flood damage and complain that mine is better.

  21. Tuty McSheem

    Not much recourse on this other than to comment on all the negative attention these terrorist get to fuel their plots against the American people.I know shedding light is the root cause, but if even terrorist watch the American media in order to gain an advantage in tactics then,how does one digress the dissemination of such in moments when the American people are awestruck over such attempts.

  22. Kento

    JJ's dream: Elizabeth May says something he doesn't agree with, so he can use the line "April Terrors Bring May Errors"

  23. Hentgen

    While vigilance is very nice and all that, fear mongering is pretty worthless. So far, the Canadian government has been doing a great job handling terrorist threats. They seemed to have forged good ties with the Muslim community and have been on top of things. I'm not suggesting that they get complacent, but it seems like their approach is working. Kudos to the RCMP and the government. That said, let's avoid legislation that would allow for rampant civil liberty abuses.

  24. Jake_Ackers

    Good point. However, this should prompt at least a overhaul of screenings of backgrounds in both the US and Canada.

  25. Tuty McSheem

    So the war on terror gets more media coverage than most the good acts that are performed here in the states.Thats such a sad proposition to undertake as a nation. Are we really falling behind that bad to those circumstances in the world? If these circumstances cause for more commotion and pain instead of what not,then why are ratings in that case more important?Or is there really nothing good going on in the world?I wonder?