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Canadian Terror Threat to U.S.


Title: Among U.S. Politicians, Claim That Terrorists Use Canada As Base Dies Hard
Date:
October 19, 2010
Source:
Globe & Mail

Abstract: Ottawa can't seem to persuade Americans that it's a myth that terrorists lurk in Canada posing a grave threat because of a porous border.

In the latest brouhaha, Ambassador Gary Doer upbraided Sharron Angle, the Republican with a solid chance of unseating Nevada Senator Harry Reid, after the outspoken Tea-Party-backed candidate suggested that Islamic jihadists have entered the United States from Canada.

"We do not have a 'porous border,' but rather one of the more secure borders in the world," Mr. Doer insisted in a letter he fired off to Ms. Angle, as well as posting it on the embassy's website. "Canada takes border security very seriously and [I]trust you will see fit to set the record straight," he added.

So far she has not done so, and she may see no need.

Ms. Angle didn't say the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijackers came from Canada, although that remains a persistent belief among Americans. What Ms. Angle said was that the northern border is America's "most porous" and that terrorists have come from Canada.

That's more or less what Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said as recently as a year ago. When outraged Canadian officials took her to task, the unrepentant Ms. Napolitano held her ground. "I know that the Sept. 11 hijackers did not come through Canada to the United States" she said, adding pointedly: "There are other instances, however, when suspected terrorists have attempted to enter our country from Canada.''

Ahmed Ressam, the Millennium Bomber, is perhaps the best known. Carrying a genuine Canadian passport, he packed a rental car full of bomb-making equipment and took a ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles, Wash., where he was intercepted by an alert U.S. Customs agent.

Unimpressed by Mr. Doer's reprimand, Ms. Angle's spokesman Jarrod Agen pointed to the Ressam plot.

Although Canada and the United States have spent billions turning the 6,000-kilometre frontier, once billed as the world's longest undefended border, into a maze of concrete, cameras and radiation detectors, it may still be too porous for many Americans.

"The fact of the matter is that Canada allows people into its country that we do not allow into ours," Ms. Napolitano has said.

In fact, porosity may be a problem in both directions.

Najibullah Zazi, who plotted to bomb New York's subway system, crossed into Canada to visit relatives in Mississauga. He went back and forth across the border apparently without triggering alerts on either side. Two members of the so-called Toronto 18, who plotted to build huge vehicle bombs, bought handguns in the United States before heading home to Toronto.

An alleged pair of terrorists from Atlanta, Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, took the bus to Canada in 2005 to consult with jihadists in the Toronto 18.

Ms. Napolitano has suggested that the scale of the threat and the number of extremists who slip in and out of the United States is considerably greater than the instances that are known because of arrests. "Some of these are well-known to the public - such as the Millennium Bomber - while others are not due to security reasons."

That's more or less what the Tea Party's would-be senator from Nevada is saying too (Globe & Mail, 2010).

Title: Former CIA Director Knew Of Canada's 'Lost Boys'
Date:
November 19, 2010
Source:
Globe & Mail


Abstract:
A former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency says his spy service was well aware of the case of three radicalized Canadians from Winnipeg who are believed to have disappeared in Pakistan.

Michael Hayden told The Globe and Mail in an interview that he viewed the Canadians' travels as part of an "alarming" trend - one that led him to urge former U.S. president George W. Bush to step up covert CIA actions against individuals from the West who were seeking terrorist training overseas.

"I broadly know the case. I know the issue," he said. "… It was part of our general appreciation of 'We got people who know the West, who are now being trained to come back at the West.' "

Mr. Hayden would not say whether the men in question were ever targeted directly by CIA agents or CIA drone planes.

His remarks amount to the first time that a counterterrorism official has openly acknowledged the sensitive case of the missing Canadians, a behind-the-scenes global manhunt that was revealed last month in a lengthy article by The Globe and Mail.

In 2007, the three Winnipeggers ventured abroad after first undergoing conversions to radical Islam. The disappearance of the three men in their 20s - Muhannad al-Farekh, Miawand Yar and Ferid Imam - has been a mystery to friends and family, as well as to counterterrorism agencies who have traced a trail running from Winnipeg to Waziristan, Pakistan.

A retired four-star general who left the CIA last year, Mr. Hayden was featured as a speaker this week at a national-security conference being held aboard a cruise ship. After a presentation, he was asked by The Globe about the Canadian case and the CIA's clandestine drone-strike program.

But Mr. Hayden would not even confirm the existence of that program, though it is by now one of the world's worst-kept secrets. For several years, the CIA has been increasing its use of missile-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles (known as drones) in hot spots where the U.S. is not technically at war. The counterterrorism strategy is highly controversial, given that extra-judicial state-sponsored killings sit in a legal grey area.

One credible Web site, known as The Long War journal, says that more than 600 suspected terrorists in Pakistan have been killed so far this year in more than 100 CIA drone strikes. That's compared with fewer than 300 individuals killed in an estimated 35 strikes in 2008, according to the site.

While not speaking directly to the strategy, Mr. Hayden did give some insights into a more aggressive mindset that may be driving drone attacks.

"One of the big issues that I was briefing to George Bush as 07 turned to 08 was the number of Westerners - broadly defined - who were showing up in the tribal regions of Pakistan," he said.

He said he told the president that "this is a safe haven that's being used to prepare people to come attack us. And therefore we recommended - and this is the best I can give you on this - stronger courses of action."

The CIA has been frequently assailed by critics for allegedly engaging in major rights violations. Senior judges in Canada have, in recent years, faulted the RCMP and CSIS for improperly sharing information with CIA officials - exchanges that led to the CIA-facilitated jailing of Canadian citizens in brutal prisons overseas.

Even so, Mr. Hayden said he always retained warm relations with his Canadian counterparts, so cordial that Canadian spy chiefs would sometimes dine at his house in the United States.

Before joining the CIA in 2006, Mr. Hayden spent years running the National Security Agency, the secretive U.S. "signals intelligence" body. While heading the NSA, he took political flak for pioneering what has become known as "warrantless wiretapping."

He makes no apologies for acting aggressively - spy services, he said, always ought to be at the precise line between what is legal and what isn't.

"You want them playing fairly close to the line," he said.

"... Playing back from the line protects me. Playing close to the line protects America" (Globe & Mail, 2010).

Title: Terrorists See Canada As Safe Haven: Expert
Date:
September 30, 2012
Source:
CNews

Abstract:
Terrorists have spared Canada from a major attack because they see the country as a place to raise money and as a safe haven for their families, says a topIsraeli anti-terror cop.

“Terror groups don’t want to cause a problem here,” Yoav Lorbert, the security manager of El Al Israel Airlines. “These groups attack for a reason and Canada is not an attractive target.”

Lorbert said cell members send their families to live or attend school in Canada and don’t want to cause problems.

“Canada is not involved in any (volatile) political situations abroad,” he said at an International Airport Investigators’ Training Symposium which wrapped up in Toronto last week.

He showed dramatic El Al security video of suicide bombers and how they can be detected. There was stunning footage of a man blowing himself up with such a blast that it shook buildings.

Investigators said many fugitives and terrorists “park” their families in Canada for safe keeping.

They highlighted the case of Khadiga Gurhan, aka “Madam Aidid”, the second wife of Somali warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The woman had been living and collecting welfare in London, Ont., in the early 1990s with four children, as her husband was on the run from UN forces in Somalia. He was killed in 1996.

Lorbert was head of El Al security when the airline was targeted several times, including a 2002 ticket counter attack at Los Angeles Airport which left two people dead and three others wounded. Airline personnel killed the gunman.

He was present during a 1985 attack in Rome when terrorists threw grenades and opened fire at an El Al counter killing 17 people an wounding more than 100.

Lorbert said all ground workers entering El Al aircraft must show identification and are accompanied by security officials.

Investigators were also updated on a police probe at Pearson Airport on

the theft of items from skids of name-brand goods being imported by

retailers.

“Sometimes the entire middle section from a skid of goods can be missing,” said Det. Stephen Rowland, of Peel Regional Police Airport Division. “In general, stolen goods are smuggled out of the airport by workers.”

Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner said his 23 Division handles calls for help at Pearson and a federal immigration detention centre, on Rexdale Blvd.

“We are the closest division in proximity to the airport,” Taverner said.

“There are a lot of cases that involve Toronto” (CNews, 2012).

Title: Terror Threat To Canadian Waterways ‘Limited’: U.S. Report
Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
Ottawa Citizen

Abstract:
The U.S. government calculates there’s a low risk of terrorism against North American shipping, ports and along shared waterways, in contrast to a Canadian assessment of maritime security vulnerabilities.

“The capabilities of al-Qaida and its sympathizers to conduct small boat water-borne improvised explosive device attacks against the U.S.-Canada MTS (marine transport system) probably remain limited,” says a newly surfaced Department of Homeland Security report.

“When compared to other tactics, maritime attacks by al-Qaida or its affiliates are rare and have only occurred in the Middle East and East Asia. The transferability of this tactic to North America would be problematic given MTS governance and law enforcement that create a less permissive maritime environment.”

The most vulnerable marine sector, it says, is U.S. and Canadian passenger ferries and terminals, which present softer targets than major ports and other significant marine transport elements and are readily accessible to homegrown extremists.

The U.S. assessment presents a distinctly different picture than that of a January report by Defence Research and Development Canada, which said the threat to Canada’s maritime borders has increased. It analyzed the terror risk posed by millions of small boats in high-traffic border regions, such as the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, against targets such as bridges and nuclear power plants.

“The terrorist risk manifests itself in several forms, including transportation of weapons of mass destruction, the use of small vessels to deliver water-borne improvised explosive devices, for the smuggling of wanted persons, as well as a platform for standoff weapons and attacks.

“Emerging threats are being signalled by events in other countries such as Colombia and Mexico where there is a growing use of submersibles or miniature submarines, partially submerged vessels (presenting a small radar cross section) and high-powered low freeboard vessels (Pangas).”

The report concluded that Canada has no coherent strategy for dealing with a growing national security threat posed by small boats in high-traffic border regions. Much of the analysis was based on comments and insights from police, military, port authorities and government officials. Most “do not feel that the current surveillance capabilities are sufficient to counter the small vessel threat and that a change is needed,” the report said.

The Great Lakes marine transportation system encompasses eight states, two provinces and more than 32 million Canadian and U.S. citizens. The region produces 50 per cent of all U.S. manufacturing output and two-thirds of Canada’s. The waterway’s importance is expected to grow as both countries seek ways to ease highway and rail congestion (Ottawa Citizen, 2012).

Title: Threat Levels Low, But Persistent, In U.S.-Canada Marine Transportation System
Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
GSN


Abstract:
Ships traveling between the U.S. and Canada and the ports that serve them can present attractive targets to terrorists, but the vessels and facilities present a difficult environment to execute an attack, according to a DHS report.

While the myriad passenger and cargo vessels plying the waters between the U.S. and Canada, as well as their ports, remain attractive terror targets, “the threat to the majority of the system is low,” said the “U.S.-Canada Marine Transportation System Terrorist Threat Assessment” Unclassified//For Official Use Only (U//FOUO) report.

The unclassified document issued by DHS in April to assist federal, state and local government counter-terror officials, updated earlier threat assessments of the Marine Transportation System (MTS) by the U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian assessments in 2008 and 2007, respectively.

The 38-page report was posted on the Public Intelligence open source Web site on Nov. 12. DHS said the document provided an updated baseline for maritime transportation threats in support of joint U.S. and Canadian northern border security.

Although ports and vessels in along the northern border face a low possibility of attack, “violent extremists could attack U.S. and Canadian ferries and similar soft maritime targets with little or no warning.”

Al Qaeda and its sympathizers, it said, have limited capability to conduct small boat waterborne improvised explosive device (WBIED) attacks against the U.S.-Canada MTS. “When compared to other tactics, maritime attacks by al-Qa‘ida or its affiliates are rare and have only occurred in the Middle East and East Asia.  The transferability of this tactic to North America would be problematic given MTS governance and law enforcement that create a less permissive maritime environment,” it said.

Although an attack by terrorists using a weapon of mass destruction smuggled into the U.S. or Canada aboard a containerized cargo ship could produce a high impact event, the report said that logistically, terrorists could be reluctant to carry out such a plan because they wouldn’t be able to tightly control what would be a valuable weapon aboard a ship. “Nonetheless, this threat remains a low-probability, high impact scenario,” it warned.

DHS said it believes terrorists would most likely more seriously consider using other maritime options like small boats and bulk cargo shipments, to smuggle weapons of mass destruction, or conduct related “waterside” attacks in the U.S. or Canada if they had opportunity.

Although there is no credible reporting that ferry systems and other passenger vessels have been targets of ongoing terrorist plotting, “they
remain vulnerable targets for terrorist attack,” said the report.

Concerns about such an attack are “elevated,” said DHS, because Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been keen on attacking “soft targets” to create maximum mayhem. The growth of homegrown violent extremist (HVE) threats and the scarcity of preoperational indicators for ferry attacks, it said are also contributing factors to the added caution. Terrorists could also target ferries as a way to compensate for the increasing security measures protecting the aviation sector, it said.

Despite the apparent paucity of terrorist plans to attack ports and ships themselves, port and maritime traffic present opportunities to slip personnel and material into the U.S., it said. Immigration and mariner document fraud, smuggling, and criminal activities along the waterfront require continuous law enforcement vigilance, it said, warning that criminal elements may try to bump up their circumvention of maritime security in North America because of enhanced land border security and air passenger screening.

Cyber attacks “will continue to represent only a marginal threat to automated ships and port facilities in North America, largely because of the complexity required for a successful attack,” it said. Information about such electronic assaults, however, “remains an enduring intelligence gap.” The dangers of Cyber attack, it suggested, could originate with disaffected employees or other insiders—particularly those with system administrator access. Complaints of insider threats “are the most frequently voiced by private sector security officials,” it added (GSN, 2012).

Title: Terror Threat To Canadian Waterways ‘Limited’: U.S. Report
Date:
November 13, 2012
Source:
Ottawa Citizen

Abstract:
The U.S. government calculates there’s a low risk of terrorism against North American shipping, ports and along shared waterways, in contrast to a Canadian assessment of maritime security vulnerabilities.

“The capabilities of al-Qaida and its sympathizers to conduct small boat water-borne improvised explosive device attacks against the U.S.-Canada MTS (marine transport system) probably remain limited,” says a newly surfaced Department of Homeland Security report.

“When compared to other tactics, maritime attacks by al-Qaida or its affiliates are rare and have only occurred in the Middle East and East Asia. The transferability of this tactic to North America would be problematic given MTS governance and law enforcement that create a less permissive maritime environment.”

The most vulnerable marine sector, it says, is U.S. and Canadian passenger ferries and terminals, which present softer targets than major ports and other significant marine transport elements and are readily accessible to homegrown extremists.

The U.S. assessment presents a distinctly different picture than that of a January report by Defence Research and Development Canada, which said the threat to Canada’s maritime borders has increased. It analyzed the terror risk posed by millions of small boats in high-traffic border regions, such as the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, against targets such as bridges and nuclear power plants.

“The terrorist risk manifests itself in several forms, including transportation of weapons of mass destruction, the use of small vessels to deliver water-borne improvised explosive devices, for the smuggling of wanted persons, as well as a platform for standoff weapons and attacks.

“Emerging threats are being signalled by events in other countries such as Colombia and Mexico where there is a growing use of submersibles or miniature submarines, partially submerged vessels (presenting a small radar cross section) and high-powered low freeboard vessels (Pangas).”

The report concluded that Canada has no coherent strategy for dealing with a growing national security threat posed by small boats in high-traffic border regions. Much of the analysis was based on comments and insights from police, military, port authorities and government officials. Most “do not feel that the current surveillance capabilities are sufficient to counter the small vessel threat and that a change is needed,” the report said.

The Great Lakes marine transportation system encompasses eight states, two provinces and more than 32 million Canadian and U.S. citizens. The region produces 50 per cent of all U.S. manufacturing output and two-thirds of Canada’s. The waterway’s importance is expected to grow as both countries seek ways to ease highway and rail congestion (Ottawa Citizen, 2012).