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Canada Raid Breaks Cell: 3 Tons of Explosives Found

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted a counterterrorism raid in the Greater Toronto Area involving over 400 personnel and broke a Canadian terrorist cell planning to bomb Canadian targets. Twelve adult Muslim jihadists and five juveniles were arrested, some of them second-generation Canadian citizens and some of them recent immigrants. They ranged in ages from in their 20’s to teens. They arrested group was described as “Muslims, but not Arabs” and unconnected to the UK raid yesterday in attempts to break up a British chemical attack plot.

According to RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell, the group had ordered and received into their possession over three tons of ammonium nitrate, the fertilizer component used in making an explosive slurry. Clearly a massive amount, probably intended to make several huge bombs, this is three times the amount of ammonium nitrate used in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Their intended targets are known to Canadian authorities, but they have not identified them publicly. Police knowledge of targets lead to assurances that the Toronto Transit Commission systems were not targeted. With three tons of explosives, buildings are a more logical conclusion without the knowledge known by the RCMP.

The authorities learned of the targets from captured documents and videos made the Jihadists. At least some of the arrested attended a “training camp” north of Toronto, where they acquired and trained with weapons, made videos and planned attacks, including a list of intended targets. The Toronto Star reported that the group had been under surveillance by Canadian intelligence since 2004.

It was in 2004 that Internet monitoring sparked a CSIS investigation into the group, a Canadian program not unlike the American NSA program currently under fire. The Canadian surveillance found members of the group on Jihadist sites “vowing to attack at home, in the name of oppressed Muslims here and abroad.” Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban military commander thought to be captured recently, directly threatened Canada as Canadian troops have been operating in Afghanistan since 2001. American critics of the NSA surveillance program should take note of the magnitude of the attacks the Canadian program has apparently prevented.

The Counterterrorism Blog’s Jeffrey Imm notes the significance of Canada’s growing Islamist threat. The threat of homegrown terrorism is nothing new to Canada. But, as former Royal Canadian Mounted Police jihadism expert Tom Quiggin notes, neither is Canadian denial. “A clear sense of denial exists in Canada about the degree to which terrorism activity occurs,” he said in a Canadian National Post interview. “Political correctness is wielded as a weapon against anyone who dares to speak out. Yet some of the world’s most infamous terrorists have operated in Canada almost unhindered for years. Even direct threats against Canada and attacks against Canadians with multiple deaths have not broken this denial. As a result of the highly suppressed political discourse in Canada, the domestic response to this growing problem has been limited.”

One of the first local public reactions to the arrests was the organization of a public meeting to bring various aspects of the community together, specifically inviting Jewish and Muslim Canadians. Canada’s News Talk Radio 580 CFRA reports, “Mayor Chiarelli says as more details come out, there’s a risk of blaming and finger-pointing. He hopes to address that quickly.”

Jeffrey Imm also notes this Canadian INSAC Report (PDF) on Islamists’ desire to use Muslim converts in attacks, valuing their ability to fly beneath the radar. It is likely that at least some of the 17 arrested in Canada are recent converts. All are believed to be first- or second-generation immigrants, however.