Saturday, June 03, 2006

Canada is no longer immune to terrorism

Twelve held in Canada terror raid - BBC News Online

Equipment seized by police during the raid
Police seized an array of bomb-making materials
Twelve men have been arrested in Toronto on terror charges, Canadian police have confirmed. They are also holding five youths.

Police said the men were planning to commit a series of "al-Qaeda-inspired" terrorist attacks in southern Ontario.

They had obtained materials used in bomb-making, including three tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

Officials said the group "posed a real and serious threat" with "the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks".

Ammonium nitrate is a commonly-used fertiliser.

"To put it in context, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people was completed with only one ton of ammonium nitrate," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) assistant commissioner Mike McDonell.

"Our investigation and arrests prevented the assembly of any bombs and the attacks from being carried out," he added.

Southern Ontario is one of the country's main economic and business centres.

'Violent ideology'

Officials showed what they said was evidence of bomb-making materials, a computer hard drive, camouflage uniforms and what appeared to be a door with bullet holes in it.

The RCMP and other government security agencies, including intelligence and border security, have been conducting a lengthy investigation involving 400 people - the largest of its kind in Canada.

"We must remain vigilant," Mr McDonell said. "Canada is susceptible to criminal terrorist activity as much as any other country."

Police said those arrested on Friday were all Canadian residents "of different origins", most of them citizens - some were students, some employed, others unemployed.

The suspects appeared to have "chosen a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaeda", said Luc Portelance, assistant director of operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Canada's spy agency.

More arrests are said to be possible.

The suspects are to appear in a Toronto area court later on Saturday.

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