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"Massive terror attack averted"
June 3, 2006 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: Canadian Police (led by the RCMP) have arrested at least 17 people that were plotting to "launch attacks against targets in Southern Ontario", apparently in large part by monitoring Internet co-ordination and communication. This days after the CSIS deputy director warned of "homegrown extremists" plotting "large scale attacks".
posted by loquax (204 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Explosives were found (apparently three times as much as ammonium nitrate as was used in the Oklahoma City bombing), evidence of a "training camp" North of the GTA was uncovered, as were links between this group of "mostly Canadian residents or citizens", and groups in England and the US. The police stressed that the TTC (Toronto public transportation system) was not a target at a news conference that just concluded.

Scary stuff, as Canada begins to be singled out by Taliban commanders due to the increasing long term presence in Afghanistan, and the list of Western countries that have not yet been directly affected by Islamic fundamentalist extremism dwindles to pretty much Italy and Canada.
posted by loquax at 7:55 AM on June 3, 2006


They were "arraigned in Pickering" which suggests they were going for the reactor there.
posted by slatternus at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2006


Non-Canucks: "north of the GTA" = "north of the Greater Toronto Area".
posted by rosemere at 8:08 AM on June 3, 2006


To be pedantic: Three tons of ammonium nitrate does not equal three tons of ANFO.

1) You need to add the fuel oil. There would be more than three tons.

2) There are perfectly legitimate reasons to have three tons of ammonium nitrate stacked up, esp this time of year. It is one of the better fertilizers. I would *not* be surprised to go to the large farm supply stores and find tons of the stuff.

The 10 gigaerg question: are these pellets, or prills? If they're pellets, then there is a chance that indeed this is just fertilizer, meant to be used such. Where was it found? If you want to arrest every person at a farm with AN, you're going to be busy.

If it is prills, then that ammonium nitrate was made specificially to be used as explosive. It won't be as useful as fertilizers, since the prills are less dense then the pellets, and they tend to jam the feeds -- this was tested as a way of disposing old AN prills, turns out it's better to reform them into pellets for farm use than to use them as is.

The difference in explosive power between ANFO made from pellets and ANFO made from prills is remarkable -- 30% to 50% more brisiance, and ANFO is not noted as a brisiant explosive. It heaves, rather than shatters, which is why it is the miner's choice for most uses -- they want to move rock. Indeed, if OKC and the first WTC bombing had used an equivalent power's worth of, say, RDX, the bomb would have been half the size -- and done vastly more damage to the buildings. The reason ANFO is popular in mining is the insensitivity and lack of brisiance, the reason that it is popular with bad guys is that it is about the only high explosive you can easily get in large quantities, because of the fact that we need AN as a fertilizer.

Looking over this, I'm someone shocked that my instant reaction is "and why should I believe the Canadian Government?" Thank you, George Bush and Tony Blair. After watching the Harper Government using the BushCo playbook, my first, honest reaction is "now we know what they're going to use to shove some new laws through."

At least it is early enough that they may get a fair trial, and we can find out if they were in fact terrorists in preperation, or confused farmers. Unless Harper plays the next page in the BushCo playbook, and sends them to the US for "questioning."
posted by eriko at 8:12 AM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


I think it's a bit much to believe that these were "confused farmers" with three tons of ammonium nitrate from Mississauga, who happened to go on psuedo-military training together, obtain weapons, and plot attacks on the Internet. Not too much detail has been released yet, and of course they're innocent until proven guilty, but what has been released, and the circumstantial evidence that has been described is quite damning, regardless of Harper, Bush and Blair. According to the police, the investigation into this group began in 2004, well before Harper became PM anyways.
posted by loquax at 8:18 AM on June 3, 2006


The last link is to the National Post, who brought us the Iranian "Yellow Star" story. I tend to distrust them even more than the Canadian government.
posted by slatternus at 8:22 AM on June 3, 2006


The remarks of the Taliban commander regarding Canada were widely reported, as were the remakrs of the CSIS deputy director. The National Post was not exclusive on either of the stories I posted links to them on.
posted by loquax at 8:25 AM on June 3, 2006


Yeah, between this and the announcement of same sex legislation being 'revisited' this fall, my previous starte of bemusement over Harper is turning to real concern. Canada elected this bozo and his minority CRAPP party to punish the Liberals and he's acting like he's got a mandate to fulfill all his daytime fantasies or something. Sound familiar?

The next federal election can't come fast enough IMO.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:26 AM on June 3, 2006


plot attacks on the Internet.

It is interesting that the Internet still gets special notice, as prevalent as it is now. Nobody would be likely to mention the fact if they just plotted using the phone.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:30 AM on June 3, 2006


...they believe that terrorist violence is a justified response to the "war on Islam" they are convinced the West is waging in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as within Western countries such as Canada, which have arrested Muslims for terrorism.

Then what's the justification? Where are they making demands? What do they want, specifically? Terrorism makes no sense without an objective; unless you subscribe to the idea that some people are just "evil." Then again, this could be like the Detroit Cell and the Buffalo Cell cases. Muslim people making home videos at Disney World and scribbling weird shapes in their notebooks, you know, terrorists.
posted by airguitar at 8:36 AM on June 3, 2006


stinkycheese: Yeah, daytime fantasies. Tell that to the people of London, Madrid, Bali, and Tel Aviv.
posted by loquax at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2006


There has been cause for skepticism concerning the ability of Canada's intelligence and police services to prosecute security cases. Since 9/11, the majority of high-profile security investigations have ended in international embarrassment, such as the acquittal of suspects in the Air India bombing case and the Maher Arar affair which raised questions about international information sharing, exposed an inexperienced federal police force and left an Ottawa man broken after his deportation, detention and torture in Syria.

Then there was Project Thread, a 2003 joint immigration-RCMP case touted as the dismantling of an Al Qaeda cell, but ending in a routine immigration case that sent Pakistani students home branded terrorists.

posted by airguitar at 8:37 AM on June 3, 2006


This days after the CSIS deputy director warned of "homegrown extremists" plotting "large scale attacks".

Oh noes! someone plotted to overthrow the not so free world. Meh, I wrote this off as fear mongering. We've had homegrown terrorist attacks before eg: Squamish Five, Sons of Freedom, FLQ etc.
posted by squeak at 8:40 AM on June 3, 2006


Part of me thinks this is awfully convenient. We recently had a law passed in Canada to expand Internet surveillance, which we see an article about, and then, as the summary notes, an article a few days ago about a possible terrorist attack. As another poster stated, it smells of the G. W. Bush playbook. I hope my country is wise enough to proceed with caution.
posted by BioCSnerd at 9:03 AM on June 3, 2006


"and why should I believe the Canadian Government?"

This was my reaction, also. I won't be surprised to learn that that this announcement is, in some way, fundamentally misleading.

what has been released, and the circumstantial evidence that has been described is quite damning

Perhaps, perhaps. The circumstantial evidence regarding Jean Charles de Menezes initially appeared quite damning as well.

I've just been listening to the CBC describing the evidence displayed by investigators as including a computer hard drive, flashlights, items that look like camping gear and a barbecue grill. Damning indeed.
posted by Zetetics at 9:13 AM on June 3, 2006


Notice also that the "elusive, one-legged Taliban commander" has threatened to wreak vengeance upon Canadian troops in Afghanistan if they don't withdraw. That makes sense. He's saying "We don't like Canadian troops here, if they don't leave, we will fight them here until they leave." It's a conditional ultimatum, he didn't say anything about setting off ANFO bombs in Toronto, which would make no sense.
posted by airguitar at 9:14 AM on June 3, 2006


loquax: I'm not suggesting that terrorist attacks are fantasy; I'm saying that much of what Harper considers important and worth spending his 'poilitical capital' on, is. Anyone who lived in Ontario under Harris' reign will recognise the signs - divide and conquer; create an us vs. them society with wedge issues designed to make people emotional and override reasoned debate; conservative policies that make the rich richer and everybody else poorer; absurd financial 'incentives' like Harper's baby bonuses in lieu of real daycare, etc., etc.

As far as terrorism goes, the important thing IMHO is not to be terrorised. Keep a cool head, don't jump to conclusions; don't erode civil liberties, don't stigmatise minorities; don't sensationalise fear (like the Star's headline this morning); don't change the way you conduct yourself day-to-day.

I find it very interesting that, with the exception of loquax, everyone here is suggesting how suspicious this all seems, and how conveniently timed it all is. I agree - until we know more, this just seems like fear-mongering. It's straight out of the Harris/Bush-style conversative playbook, and I'm pretty much just going to ignore it so far as my own life is concerned, which I would argue is the civil and sensible course of action.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:33 AM on June 3, 2006


this is way suspicious, and statements like this insult all Canadian Muslims: "We are seeing phenomena in Canada such as the emergence of homegrown second- and third-generation terrorists.
Their parents and grandparents were terrorists too in Canada? WTF??? There's no way to parse that statement in any way that doesn't either insult them or their families or the entire community. And i don't know about Toronto, but here there's been plenty of attacks on Muslims here (and people who were just thought to be Muslim), so getting guns would not be unthinkable.
posted by amberglow at 9:38 AM on June 3, 2006


The profile of an organized Islamic terrorist attack usually involves multiple, unconnected cells, each acting alone but aligned to a common goal.

Of course, if this arrest is genuinely connected with a planned terrorist attack from Al Qaeda, we'd expect multiple cells being arrested. Doesn't make much sense to arrest one cell and let the others escape.

So far, given how little information there is that is tied to a reasonable profile, my estimation would be that this will end up being something else unconnected with Islamic terrorism -- especially if this is right-wing terrorism in the vein of Timothy McVeigh and William Krar that usually gets hushed up if the investigation goes sour -- and that the news reports are playing on people's fearful ignorance for the usual ratings grab.
posted by Mr. Six at 9:45 AM on June 3, 2006


Maybe we should just call this a Bush/Harper New World Order thread, and dispense with the pretense of discussing the topic at hand.
posted by slatternus at 9:46 AM on June 3, 2006


sonofsamiam: It is interesting that the Internet still gets special notice, as prevalent as it is now. Nobody would be likely to mention the fact if they just plotted using the phone.

Phone plots are hardly going to be ignored. The US Feds are trying to build a phone call database to include billions of calls made by 280,000,000 law-abiding US citizens and 17 terrorists hiding out there somewhere. Whose rights are being trampled in the pursuit of something that undoubtedly can't be found?
posted by PlanoTX at 9:47 AM on June 3, 2006


It's much easier to buy fuel (which you can even get delivered), than fertilizer. Ever since the Oklahoma bombing fertilizer sales have been closely watched. I wouldn't be surprised if this was what triggered the arrests. Purchase of bomb-making supplies would be pretty strong evidence that they'd crossed the line from merely being hot-heads to being potential threats.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2006


stinkycheese: I just find it odd that given that terrorist attacks have occurred in Western countries, that the automatic reaction is to doubt the validity of the accusations and blame politicking. Until there's evidence that this is purely a "disinformation" campaign, or whatever, why are you not concerned that, apparently, there were 17 people with explosives and weapons illegal in Canada planning on attacking targets in the very area code you're from? I absolutely fail to understand how this is "from the Harris playbook". This was a two year RCMP/CSIS investigation, from after Harris's time, and before Harper's.

Some members of the group allegedly attended a "training camp" north of the city where they made a video imitating military warfare, and the suspects allegedly had acquired weapons and listed targets in Ontario, sources told the Star.

This doesn't concern you?

The group is being charged under the new anti-terrorism legislation introduced into the criminal code in December 2001, after the 9/11 attacks. It's only the second time the terrorism laws have been used in Canada.

Laws enacted by the Chretien Liberal government, not Harper, not Harris, not George Bush.

This is much bigger, much more concrete than the other busts made by Canadian authorities in the past. Until evidence emerges to the contrary, I'm going to treat this as a real criminal investigation, and a serious threat, not a flight of fancy or trumped up charges against "confused farmers" or "misidentified students".
posted by loquax at 9:53 AM on June 3, 2006


CNN now has this as their lead story:

Canadian police on Saturday said they have prevented a major al Qaeda-inspired terror plot to attack targets in southern Ontario. Twelve adults and five young people were arrested, authorities said.

The detained suspects were followers of a "dangerous ideology inspired by al Qaeda," intelligence chiefs said.


Get that everybody? al Qaeda, al Qaeda, al Qaeda....
posted by stinkycheese at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2006


how about pictures of this "training camp"? (and why the quotes?) It's not believable--they'd be splashed all over the tv, and our own politicians and pundits would be using this whole thing as another peg in the immigration wedge.

how about real evidence of their plots and the seriousness of them?
posted by amberglow at 9:56 AM on June 3, 2006


And if it's a matter of "us" law-abiding, non-violent people against "them" paramilitary, bomb making, weapons-hoarding, target acquiring, groups of right-wing extremists, Islamic fundamentalists or anti-abortionists, I fully support that dichotomy.

amberglow, the busts occured yesterday, the first news conference ended two hours ago, and the police have said more details are coming. Just because the entire case has not been made public yet doesn't mean there is no case. That's what trials are for.
posted by loquax at 9:58 AM on June 3, 2006


loquax: This doesn't concern you?

I didn't say I'm not interested. When more information is made available, I'll certainly read it. But if what you meant is: this doesn't scare you, then no, it doesn't scare me.

The reality is that bad things do happen, even in my postal code. If the Pickering Power Plant blew up, that's certainly a very bad thing, but it's not the end of the world, and it's not sufficient reason to transform Canada into what I see the US becoming every day.

That's what really scares me BTW, not the actions of a small group of militants, but a slow, organised transformation of my country's government into, as Homer Simpson put it, "America Junior".
posted by stinkycheese at 10:01 AM on June 3, 2006


our own politicians and pundits would be using this whole thing as another peg in the immigration wedge

Too much hatred at once distracts the voters. Gotta keep the hoi polloi focused.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:02 AM on June 3, 2006


Here is some more information, including the names of the twelve adults arrested (the juveniles cannot be named).
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2006


100% skepticism at my house over this news. And seriously, where are these 2 to 3 generations of terrorists, how come they haven't, you know, terrorized us? CSIS cocks up everything they do, there's no reason to put any faith in their intelligence, in any sense of the word. They'll have to present reams of seriously solid evidence and that evidence is going to need reliable independent verification.

it's not sufficient reason to transform Canada into what I see the US becoming every day.

That's what really scares me BTW


My sentiments as well.
posted by zarah at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2006


Every Sony Playstation is a potential "terrorist training camp."
posted by Flashman at 10:13 AM on June 3, 2006


3 tonnes of AN isn't very much if it is being used for agricultural purposes. We used to apply about 60-80 pounds per acre in my family's SoCal citrus grove. Even though our grove was relatively small (600 acres), we still used 18-24 tons per application. 3 tonnes would hardly be sufficient for one application of an average 80-100 acre truck farm and wouldn't raise my suspicion if any of the suspects are involved in small-scale farming.

OTH, this would definitely be a redflag if everyone involved lives in urban areas and no one can demonstrate a valid reason for possession.
posted by buggzzee23 at 10:15 AM on June 3, 2006


And seriously, where are these 2 to 3 generations of terrorists

Right Here.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:18 AM on June 3, 2006


2nd and 3rd generation refers to people who are of the 2nd or 3rd generation of families in Canada, not multiple generations.

Just curious, those of you who are 100% skeptical, is it your belief that CSIS and the RCMP and local police forces have completely fabricated whatever evidence they have provided or alluded to, and that these are a completely innocent group of people that are being arrested with no cause? I understand your general suspicion of the government (I think), but how does that translate into this specific case?
posted by loquax at 10:19 AM on June 3, 2006


...is it your belief that...

The eight-ball says "inconclusive."
posted by airguitar at 10:21 AM on June 3, 2006


that's not what he said, loquax--you know that. He's attempting to demonize a whole group of Canadian citizens (and i know what he's doing--we've been having that happen here daily for the past 6 years)
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on June 3, 2006


2nd and 3rd generation refers to people who are of the 2nd or 3rd generation of families in Canada, not multiple generations.

Like the Khadr family, as illustrated in my link above.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:23 AM on June 3, 2006


No I don't think so amberglow. Perhaps that's what's happening in your country, not here. That statment parses for me exactly the way I stated. Even if it refers to multiple generations of extremists within the same family, why is it wrong, or painting all muslims with a negative brush? It seems to me that it refers to radical extremists, and radical extremists only.

"A small number of Islamic extremists in Canada advocate violent jihad in pursuit of their political or religious aims," says another intelligence report written in the days after the London bombings.

posted by loquax at 10:27 AM on June 3, 2006


Just curious, those of you who are 100% skeptical, is it your belief that CSIS and the RCMP and local police forces have completely fabricated whatever evidence they have provided or alluded to, and that these are a completely innocent group of people that are being arrested with no cause? I understand your general suspicion of the government (I think), but how does that translate into this specific case?

Loquax, did you read the links I cited? In the case of Timothy McVeigh, evidence was collected and APBs put out on Arab-Americans. Frame-ups and misdirections have happened before, and you should be aware of them, especially given how little information is available right now.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:27 AM on June 3, 2006


Yes, and as Fuzzy Monster points out, there are certainly people in Canada, families, individuals, groups, affiliates, whatever with ties to radicals, at the very leasts. Pointing out a truth is not wrong, nor is it condemning every muslim in Canada.

Mr. Six: Yes, I know what happened with McVeigh. What does it have to do with 17 people being arrested in Canada yesterday? If evidence is uncovered that the police is wrong in this case, fine, but what reason do you have to believe that this is the case beyond what happened years ago in Oklahoma? I could as easily point to London, or Madrid and state that if the police there had acted as the Canadian police had, the bombings could have been averted.
posted by loquax at 10:31 AM on June 3, 2006


What does it have to do with 17 people being arrested in Canada yesterday?

It has to do with directly answering your question about why I am skeptical about your claims. And I remain skeptical in light of no supporting evidence other than the word of an extremist right-wing government that is aligned with another extremist right-wing government, which has lied before and gains much from continuing to lie and foment its culture of fear, at our expense.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2006


"In the case of Timothy McVeigh, evidence was collected and APBs put out on Arab-Americans. Frame-ups and misdirections have happened before, and you should be aware of them, especially given how little information is available right now."

Considering the sheer amount of radical Islamic violence across the world in recent years, pointing to an anomaly like McVeigh isn't very convincing. You're stretching.
posted by TetrisKid at 10:37 AM on June 3, 2006


You're stretching.

And until I hear more from unbiased sources, I'm also yawning.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:39 AM on June 3, 2006


I'm going to frame the Toronto Sun headline on this for loquax, if he doesn't already have a subscription.
posted by CynicalKnight at 10:40 AM on June 3, 2006


Yeah guys, like that time the RCMP invented Sikh extremists in Vancouver plotting to blow up an Air India passanger plane. Psha, like that'd ever happen.
posted by ori at 10:44 AM on June 3, 2006


And I remain skeptical in light of no supporting evidence other than the word of an extremist right-wing government

Give me a goddamn break. You sir, are out of your mind. Believe what you want.
posted by loquax at 10:46 AM on June 3, 2006


I believe in the Power of Nightmares.
posted by airguitar at 10:48 AM on June 3, 2006


Conspiracy among 17 religious fundamentalists to attack targets in a Western country, like other groups in other countries? Impossible! Fantasy! Nonsense! Neocon babble!

Conspiracy among multiple levels of government, various police agencies, various countries and the media to arrest 17 innocent, law abiding people? Absolutely! Damn straight! Makes sense to me! Arrest Harper!
posted by loquax at 10:52 AM on June 3, 2006


You're terrorized.
posted by airguitar at 10:53 AM on June 3, 2006


Give me a goddamn break. You sir, are out of your mind. Believe what you want.

Thanks, I will. At least until it becomes a thoughtcrime to do so.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:54 AM on June 3, 2006


It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out in the next few days as more information comes to light. As loquax points out, there are a lot of people in this thread skeptical of this news because they are skeptical of the Harper Government. But regardless of who is in power in Ottawa, it's been proven that there are Islamic Terrorists in Canada, and specifically in the Toronto area (see my Khadr Family link). It's not too big a stretch to think that local Toronto terrorists might have been planning local terrorist activity.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:54 AM on June 3, 2006


You're terrorized.

Mostly by certain denizens of a particular website I don't care to mention.
posted by loquax at 10:56 AM on June 3, 2006


It is comforting to realise that in such chaotic times as these, when so much seems to be out of our control and beyond our ability to influence, that there is one important thing we do control and do influence. That is: how we react to this.

Whether these guys were really buying the fertilizer, whether they were really terrorists, or were really planning to blow things up, is, at some level, immaterial. What's important, I would suggest, is how we all react to the news of these arrests, both as individuals, and as a group.

The very idea that 'people want to kill us' seems to set some into near-rabid states of foamy fear. It really shouldn't come as news to anyone paying attention that threats have been made against Canada for its role in Afghanistan, and so on, in recent years. That much is true.

But on Fark right now people are arguing now about how much of Bay Street could theoretically have been blown up, and here we seem to have people aghast that the rest of us aren't barricading our homes and screaming for more protection, more protection, more protection.

Tomorrow is Riverfest in the area I live, and I'm going to take my kids there and have a great time. And if I see any swarthy 'Muslim-looking' folks, I'll be sure and smile and say, "afternoon" or whatever. C'mon now, wasn't the gigantic clusterfuck that followed 9-11 evidence enough not to run around like a chicken with its head cut off after buildings in your area get blown up?
posted by stinkycheese at 10:59 AM on June 3, 2006


The thing that has me somewhat more comfortable with this case, compared with the earlier security certificate detentions in the panic of late 2001/early 2002, is that there were arrests for criminal charges. That means that all of these people will eventually be brought to court and have their full rights under the law.

By comparison, sercurity certificates have allowed the detention of several "suspects" for up to 5 years without any charge or right to trial. If the RCMP really wanted to do this ex-camera they could have used the certificate process.

They're not being shipped to to a Canadian Gitmo. There will be public trials in reasonable time (or they'll have to be released), as things currently stand. If the police have rushed to judgement, we stand a reasonable chance of this coming out at trial.
posted by bonehead at 11:00 AM on June 3, 2006


CTV is reporting the names of many of those arrested.

I'm as much a lefty as the next guy, but when young men with Arabic names living in urban areas are buying ammonium nitrate, I want the seller to be reporting it to some kind of authority and I want that authority to investigate it.

(And I'm as much a lefty as the next guy, but calling Harper's government 'extreme right-wing' is laughable.)
posted by solid-one-love at 11:00 AM on June 3, 2006


I just can't imagine that anyone would have a legitimate reason for being upset with Canada.
posted by airguitar at 11:01 AM on June 3, 2006


stinkycheese: I certainly didn't say it's time to panic and crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside. But to pretend this isn't happening, and that there is nothing to be worried about is just as dangerous, if not more so. My swarthy muslim friends are some of the people who are most aware of the realities of some of these threats, as well as some of the overreaction. I have a feeling they'll be commending the police for acting before Toronto could join the list of cities that have been attacked by psychopaths of any stripe.

And if this is a vast conspiracy and and a bunch of trumped up charges, I'll be at the front of the mob demanding the arrest and accountability of everyone involved.
posted by loquax at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2006


No, it's not a stretch to think that the addictive pleasure of hate would drive one to build a bomb targeting an ethnic group - or publish post after post subtly ridiculing ethnic groups.

What is a stretch are growing Canadian references to a fictional organization that is a Western invention.
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:07 AM on June 3, 2006


If the Pickering Power Plant blew up, that's certainly a very bad thing

Could you breach containment with an ANFO truck bomb? Pickering is a CANDU, right? Are their containment buildings weaker than pressurized water reactors?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:10 AM on June 3, 2006


It's not about "Canada" per se, it's about the relentless death and destruction around the world, young men without a future (could be columbine or bali) and a dangerous ideology which promises a better life after death.

It is not surprising that this could happen, it would be more surprising if this was ginned up by the authorities. Although as information does come out, look for an "inside man" or informant who helped guide the group but was actually a cop.

Things may not be as serious as they appear, but that doesn't mean these groups don't exist and aren't capable of violence.
posted by cell divide at 11:11 AM on June 3, 2006


I just can't imagine that anyone would have a legitimate reason for being upset with Canada.

Bryan Adams. Rush. Celine Dion. Jim Carrey. Shanie Twain. Barenaked Ladies. Tom Green. Matthew Perry. Corey Hart. Shatner.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2006


Considering the sheer amount of radical Islamic violence across the world in recent years, pointing to an anomaly like McVeigh isn't very convincing. You're stretching.

Thinking that McVeigh was any kind of anomaly--given that the vast majority of terrorist acts in the country have been committed by homegrown white folks--is what's stretching.
posted by amberglow at 11:15 AM on June 3, 2006


Anyone know the ethnic identities of the accused? I've heard it reported as "non-Arab Muslim", and given the large numbers of South Asians in the area, I presume a lot of the suspects are of that origin.

I've got calls out to my Indian-American friends who have relatives in that area, to see what their take on the news - and to find out if they've taken any flak for it.

Does anyone have connections to the South Asian and/or Muslim communities in the GTA? I'd like to hear what they think.
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:19 AM on June 3, 2006


It is of course entirely possible that if the police hadn't been so dilligent, there may have been one or more acts of terrorism on Canadian soil, and we would join the list of names loquax mentioned upthread.

That could still happen anywhere and anytime. I'm not advocating that people pretend nothing is happening, I'm just saying I'm not going down that road, you know? I'm not going to go all buggy and freak out and start talking to my neighbours about how 'something needs to be done' or whatever.

It's very clear where that road leads and I'm not going there.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2006


...There has been cause for skepticism concerning the ability of Canada's intelligence and police services to prosecute security cases. Since 9/11, the majority of high-profile security investigations have ended in international embarrassment, such as the acquittal of suspects in the Air India bombing case and the Maher Arar affair which raised questions about international information sharing, exposed an inexperienced federal police force and left an Ottawa man broken after his deportation, detention and torture in Syria.

Then there was Project Thread, a 2003 joint immigration-RCMP case touted as the dismantling of an Al Qaeda cell, but ending in a routine immigration case that sent Pakistani students home branded terrorists.

posted by amberglow at 11:20 AM on June 3, 2006


stinkycheese, I agree. The terrorists want us to be terrorized. If we stay calm, the terrorists lose.

We must not give in to political hysteria on either side of the spectrum.

I also agree with bonehead when he says,

The thing that has me somewhat more comfortable with this case, compared with the earlier security certificate detentions in the panic of late 2001/early 2002, is that there were arrests for criminal charges. That means that all of these people will eventually be brought to court and have their full rights under the law.

That's a very important point. These Canadian Citizens will be charged criminally and have all the rights of Canadian Citizens in court. They're not being held without charges and they're not being shipped off to some foreign gulag. The rights of Canadian Citizens are being respected, and that's a good thing-- and a key difference between us and our neighbors to the south.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:21 AM on June 3, 2006


Yeah, if we rewrite slightly to say

"... farmers with three tons of ammonium nitrate from Mississippi, [California, Wyoming ....] who ... go on psuedo-military training together, obtain weapons, and plot attacks ...."

Everyone would smile, nod, and agree that the redneck fantasy life is deeply tied to blowing things up. Stumps, mostly, but they dream a lot.

I dunno about Canadians, maybe it's a real problem. But the description sounds like half the gun nuts I meet in the back woods, nice people with active fantasy lives and explosive temperments.
posted by hank at 11:24 AM on June 3, 2006


I'm not going to go all buggy and freak out and start talking to my neighbours about how 'something needs to be done' or whatever.

I'm curious: who exactly are you suggesting IS going all buggy and freaking out? The police made arrests based on evidence of criminal intent. You people are trying to spin this into a Bush-inspired ethic cleansing. Get a grip. This is a thread worthy of Prison Planet.
posted by slatternus at 11:27 AM on June 3, 2006


ROU_Xenophobe: I have a friend who works for Hydro and has worked for years at Pickering and other local plants (like Darlington, I believe). We used to play this game where I would try and imagine ways to create a huge catatrophe there, and he would explain (with much frustration) how my hypotheticals just could not happen.

Prior to 9-11, I even posited the situation of a big plane flying right into the power plant, and he still maintained it wouldn't be a meltdown-style situation. So I don't know what that's worth, if anything, but there you go. Couldn't be good in any case obviously...

And yes, I am glad to see these suspects will be charged criminally.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:28 AM on June 3, 2006


TetrisKid: An anomaly like McVeigh, eh? If the right-wing nutters are an anomoly, then explain why almost every major domestic terrorist plot that actually turned up individuals with bombs, guns, and detailed actionable plans (at least in the US) have involved various white supremacist and other extreme right-wing factions? And what about all the clinic bombings in recent American history? When's the last time you can recall hearing about some alleged Islamic terrorist plotter in the US actually being found with stockpiles of weapons, bomb-making supplies, or other concrete provisions? In most cases, when alleged Islamist terrorists are involved, there are just some vague allegations about inviduals trying to acquire potentially dangerous materials or formulating preposterous schemes like taking a blow-torch to the suspension cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. Meanwhile, there have been dozens of narrowly interrupted terrorist plots over here in the years since 9-11 involving right-wingers who had actually stock-piled bomb-making materials, chemical weapons agents, and other munitions. Luckily, most of those plots have been foiled (which has unfortunately helped to reinforce the mistaken popular view that McViegh-style terrorist plotters are an anomaly), but these were major, large-scale domestic terrorist plots, backed up with real plans and weapons. And what about the Anthrax attacks on the Democratic members of congress in the immediate aftermath of 9-11? Can there really be much doubt about what opportunistic political actors were behind those now largely forgotten attacks that just happened to target only Democratic lawmakers and so-called liberal media figures, or is it just less painful not to connect those particular dots? Now, you could legitimately point to higher figures on Islamist violence in other parts of the world, but those incidents are largely isolated to regions where Islamist factions have an immediate political interest (like Israel). Looking at the broader pattern of Islamist violence, it's 9-11 and the handful of other direct terrorist attacks on the West that look like anomalies--devastating and emotionally vexing anomalies, to be sure, but still anomalies.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:29 AM on June 3, 2006


is it your belief that CSIS and the RCMP and local police forces have completely fabricated whatever evidence they have provided

No but I'm wary of anything wrapped up in a neat little package that says (in part), "we need more funding to fight an unseen force that is a menace to us all!"

I think part of my reluctance to take this more seriously is because of being inundated with media hype south of the border, I'm growing tired of being told the bogyman is out to get me but he never shows up.
posted by squeak at 11:30 AM on June 3, 2006


slatternus: I'm curious: who exactly are you suggesting IS going all buggy and freaking out? The police made arrests based on evidence of criminal intent. You people are trying to spin this into a Bush-inspired ethic cleansing. Get a grip. This is a thread worthy of Prison Planet.

Er, I'm suggesting the general public could, if they so choose, go all buggy and freak out. Nowhere did I suggest the police were doing this.

There's a whole spectrum of nasty behaviour between looking at people funny and pushing their corpses into ovens. I hope and trust that we don't even start looking at people funny, frankly.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:32 AM on June 3, 2006



Non-Canucks: "north of the GTA" = "north of the Greater Toronto Area".
Make that non-Ontarians, too, please.
posted by fish tick at 11:33 AM on June 3, 2006


Thanks for posting this, loquax. I'm surprised by people's skepticism.

Bin Laden was naming Canada as a target way back in November 2002:
What do your governments want from their alliance with America in attacking us in Afghanistan?

I mention in particular Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Australia.

... Why should fear, killing, destruction, displacement, orphaning and widowing continue to be our lot, while security, stability and happiness be your lot?
For more detail on homegrown terrorist attacks (e.g. Madrid and London), see Benjamin and Simon's The Next Attack. It's interesting how much it resembles the open-source movement--people inspired by a common ideology can work on independent projects/attacks.
posted by russilwvong at 11:48 AM on June 3, 2006


From the Globe and Mail story (the first link):

Charged are Fahim Ahmad, 21, of Toronto; Zakaria Amara, 20, of Mississauga; Asad Ansari, 21, of Mississauga; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, of Mississauga; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, of Mississauga; Mohammed Dirie, 22, of Kingston; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, of Kingston; Jahmaal James, 23, of Toronto; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, of Toronto; Steven Vikash Chand (alias Abdul Shakur), 25, of Toronto; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, of Mississauga; and Saad Khalid, 19, of Mississauga.

It's worth emphasizing: This is not a good reason to treat all Muslim Canadians with suspicion and fear.
posted by russilwvong at 11:53 AM on June 3, 2006


PlanoTX: I didn't mean that phones are ignored by the state (just the opposite), but that no one says things like, "Terrorists are plotting and attack on the phone network."
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:58 AM on June 3, 2006


Could you breach containment with an ANFO truck bomb? Pickering is a CANDU, right?


From the scenarios I've seen and from the site security I've witnessed, it wouldn't seem likely. It would be hard to drive a random panel van close enough to the building without drawing suspision. It's one of the scenarios at the top of the list for the RCMP. Further I doubt that it would be physically possible to cause a significant breach with the explosives they could have used. Without a shaped charge, it's hard to penetrate many-feet thick reinforced concrete walls.
posted by bonehead at 12:03 PM on June 3, 2006


I too am skeptical. I have a feeling that as this story develops it will be revealed that this group, while maybe having pretensions of jihad, were mostly harmless poseurs. Then the posturings of these creeps will be blown out of proportion to make the RCMP and CSIS look like heros and to help push for "necessary" counter-terrorism laws that the Harper government will put to use cracking the skulls of pot smoking hippies protesting his new made in Canada, fuck you we aint gotta do shit alternative plan for climate change.

Of course, I'm not saying I know this is the case, but that I've been lied to enough not to believe anything that these assholes say unless there is a damn good reason.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:04 PM on June 3, 2006


Jesus, this thread is ridiculous. All the American posters are busy whining about us Canadians arresting people who seem to actually be terrorists because their own, American, government is a piece of shit that can't get its act together.

Americans, we exist as something other than just a prop in the ongoing farce that is American political life. You might have right-wing radicals running around blowing things up and being ignored by the police, but we don't. Nor do we have indefinite detentions without trials or rights for the accused. We got close with the Maher Arar scandal, but unlike the American government, the public was outraged and changes made once it became public.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 12:05 PM on June 3, 2006


In regards to Eriko's post above:
"The 10 gigaerg question: are these pellets, or prills?"

At the Globe and Mail's updated site, there are pictures of the arrest and it's aftermath. One of these includes the following caption: "Items are shown on display during a press conference. The bag of fertilizer, right, was not seized during the raid and was there for display purposes only."

Assuming the displayed bag was representative of the materiel allegedly confiscated, what would the answer to the 10 gig question be?
posted by hobocode at 12:35 PM on June 3, 2006


those of you who are 100% skeptical, is it your belief that CSIS and the RCMP and local police forces have completely fabricated whatever evidence they have provided or alluded to, and that these are a completely innocent group of people that are being arrested with no cause?

Most of my skepticism is born out of the belief that CSIS et al are incompetent boobs, not that they're liars. I give them the benefit of the doubt that they're honest. Just like I presume innocence on the part of the arrested, until solid evidence otherwise is made public. If they're guilty I'll be thrilled that our agencies have thwarted a real threat, because incompetent or misguided gov't officials will do way more damage to us than any terrorist group.
posted by zarah at 12:36 PM on June 3, 2006


Pseudoephedrine: Please don't misunderstand. My comment was meant in response only to Tetriskids' specific comment about McVeigh--I didn't mean to make any broader claims about what terrorist plotters may or may not be active in Canada, or any of the other issues addressed here, for that matter. And I think others' comments here about "terr in America" are intended only as precautionary remarks from those of us who've already seen how quickly xenophobia and paranoia can sweep in and take hold. And also, some of us down here are just kind of uneasy about the timing and abruptness of the recent conservative turn in Canadian politics. And frankly, I for one don't see the recent dominance in right-wing authoritarian political attitudes as a uniquely American problem. Similar movements have been taking hold all over the world, and America is as much a prop in these broader trends as Afghanistan, Italy, or any other country in the world where militant political movements have recently been making inroads.

But your underlying point is a fair one. Sorry for any unintentional derail.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 12:38 PM on June 3, 2006


No worries mate. I wasn't focusing on you in particular, more some of the upthread stuff that jumped off into "Rednecks blow up stumps, so the Canadian government is obviously wrong!" territory.

I agree that the Conservatives are a ton of trouble for Canada, and if this does turn out to be a load of bollocks, I'm gonna be the first one demanding their heads. But on the other hand, I want to find out which it is, either way, before I start screaming that it's a bunch of shit trumped up by the government.

As loquax pointed out up thread, the first press conference ended only a couple of hours ago. We don't have anywhere near enough facts about the matter to make a decision either way yet.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:12 PM on June 3, 2006


Assuming the displayed bag was representative of the materiel allegedly confiscated, what would the answer to the 10 gig question be?

Pellets. I'd be more doubtful if they put up a bag of prills, since that would imply actual explosives, unless they stated that yes, that bag came from the raid.

However, they may have missed the other way -- but the bag shown there is fertilizer, in pellet form.

Of course, looking at my desk, I see almost the exact same things, mod a large bag of AN. The soldering iron is over there, the meter is next to my monitor (one of them, actually, there's another one next to the bench power supply), various jumper wires of assorted colors, batteries, cell phone, relays -- pretty much everything in that picture is on my desk, right now. I don't have a heat gun up here, but there's one in the basement. These are all standard electrical tools.

Now, the disturbing thing. It appears that somebody has connected a cell phone and a large battery pack to a relay. I can't really see the circuit, but it is obvious that the 8 D cells are connected to the cell phone (how they're connected I can't tell -- 8 D cells could provide 1.5, 3, 6 or 12V, depending on how they are wired) and the large white box on the circuit board is almost certainly a relay.

The obvious implication is that this is a remote detonator -- call the phone, the ring or vibrate circuit triggers the relay, which dumps power into a detonator.

What I don't see is the power source for the detonators themselves. The 8 D cells won't do it, alkalines have too much resistance, and it really looks like they're tied to the phone. Why is fairly obvious -- to keep the cell phone running for a long time, waiting for the call. This is a tray in a toolbox, there might be a larger NiCad or a large capacitor bank underneath it, if so, then it is clear that this is rigged up as a remote detonator, which is the first compelling thing that says to me "They were going to blow something up, and they wanted to be far away when they did so."

Everything else on the bench is circumstantial, but that phone-in-a-tool box is fairly damning evidence, and if there's a large NiCAD battery, NiMH battery or cap bank under it, then it is hard to call it anything but a remote detonator.

The other thing I don't see is the detonator itself -- though there is a brown cylinder in the box that might be one (or a capacitor, or a battery, or a model rocket engine, or something else -- just not enough detail.)

However, if I were a cop, and I found that, I'd definitely feel a chill. Everything else on that table has an easily explained non criminal purpose -- but that tool box with battery and phone is 75% of a remote trigger, and I'm finding it hard to come up with what else it might be.
posted by eriko at 1:26 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


Aside: The Oklahoma City Bombing wasn't ANFO -- it was an AN based explosive, but it was a homemade version of Kinepack, ammonium nitrate mixed with nitromethane. Similar idea but unlike fuel oil, which won't detonate no matter what you do to it, nitromethane can explode all by itself. It took a long time to figure this out, nitromethane is a very stable substance, but they found out that if you hit it just right, it'll explode, and how.

The other thing is we don't see anything (yet) of the other component. It is possible to make AN explode by itself, but it isn't easy. One noted incident happened in Oppau, Germany in the early 1920s, when a factory was breaking up a very large pile of ammonium nitrate mixed with ammonum sulfate using explosives. They had done this many, many, many times before -- some reports place it at 20,000 times.

The last shot they tried, however, detonated 450 tons of the mixture, leaving, well, not much of the factory. Indeed, the phrase "hole in the ground" leaps to mind.
posted by eriko at 1:45 PM on June 3, 2006




We're involved in this (maybe our info was pivotal), and we've had how many successes?

Hard to say. I suppose you have to look at the number of successful attacks in the US lately?
posted by loquax at 2:27 PM on June 3, 2006


This looks legit, as silly as the pictures of D cell batteries and a cell phone look on that press conference table (eriko has covered this very well already. I would add that there is a hell of a lot of energy in those batteries. I have no idea if it is 'enough', but a lot..).

Tarek Fatah, of the Canadian Muslim Congress, says Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the 43 year old suspect, is a well known fanatic. He calls them a cult, which sounds like a perfect description to me. Cult, or terrorist cult, should probably be the word used to describe these groups. It would help address amberglow's well stated concerns.

loquax: Scary stuff

Depressing, but not at all scary.

slatternus: "arraigned in Pickering" which suggests they were going for the reactor there.

That is a bit of a stretch. It looks like they are holding the suspects, mostly from Mississauga on the far west end of Toronto, in Pickering, on the far east end. Presumably it is a security measure. I'm not sure of the legality, but you would want to arraign them as close to the holding faciility as possible, for obvious reasons. A couple of suspects are from Kingston, which is at the eastern tip of Lake Ontario.

Regardless, if they were actually going for a nuclear plant with a concrete containment dome they are utter fools. While it might shut the plant down, it wouldn't hurt very many people (either from direct effects, or from radioactivity - none would be released).

airguitar: I just can't imagine that anyone would have a legitimate reason for being upset with Canada.

We have long been facilitators of American foreign policy and profiteers off of American wars. We have sometimes used our psuedo-autonomy to make well placed political statements in opposition to American policies, and that is a wonderful thing, but lets not exaggerate.
posted by Chuckles at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2006


loquax: Hard to say. I suppose you have to look at the number of successful attacks in the US lately?

Ya, we determine the effectiveness of missile defense by the number of ICBMs hitting the US lately, and we determine the effectiveness of the asteroid shield by the number of collisions lately.

Please try to be a little sensible..
posted by Chuckles at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2006


bonehead writes "It's much easier to buy fuel (which you can even get delivered), than fertilizer."

And both are found loaded on easily stolen trucks in any rural area and most truck stops in Canada. I'm totally amazed they ever catch these guys before the boom.

solid-one-love writes "I'm as much a lefty as the next guy, but when young men with Arabic names living in urban areas are buying ammonium nitrate, I want the seller to be reporting it to some kind of authority and I want that authority to investigate it."

If the guys were portugese then no investigation would be required? How about if it was arab women in their 40s?

eriko writes "Everything else on that table has an easily explained non criminal purpose -- but that tool box with battery and phone is 75% of a remote trigger, and I'm finding it hard to come up with what else it might be"

I don't believe this for a minute but to play devil's advocate: Could be a telephone remote for practically anything. Turn the yard lights on when you get home, turn off the pump for the sprinklers without having to shlep out to the back fourty, open the gates to your property when someone phones you from the road, etc. etc. I've made several remote gates using garage door openners but if the gate was out of range of the house I could see using a cell phone.
posted by Mitheral at 2:52 PM on June 3, 2006


so it's starting to sound like this may have been a clean bust... good on your authorities! just maintain a healthy amount of skepticism for any political opportunists looking to exaggerate the need for security at the expense of personal liberty (goes w/out saying, really). competent officials should be perfectly capable of maintaining both.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 3:00 PM on June 3, 2006


What would really scare me, if I was anywhere near it, is the police tactics at that courthouse. What exactly do they think will happen? In terms of a security measure against terrorism it is comical, but it is a real and avoidable risk to regular people, not to mention a huge waste of money!
posted by Chuckles at 3:00 PM on June 3, 2006


Anyone got a link to a large version of the trigger, all I can find are stuff that looks like it was taken with a phone?
posted by Mitheral at 3:00 PM on June 3, 2006


I hate the way this is being used as propaganda in support of new anti-terrorism laws (from the star article amberglow links):
“This is the largest counter-terrorism operation and arrests in Canada since the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the amendment of the Criminal Code to better define terrorism,” Portelance [from CSIS] said.
I'm open to the notion that anti-terrorism laws may have facilitated the investigation, but lets talk about the specifics!
posted by Chuckles at 3:14 PM on June 3, 2006


Still crappy pictures, but worth a look.. If you've a good guess about what resolutions they would use, we might be able to hack the URL..
posted by Chuckles at 3:29 PM on June 3, 2006


Wouldn't a cell-phone trigger have the not-so-trivial risk of wrong numbers? I've gotten a lot of those lately.
posted by oaf at 3:38 PM on June 3, 2006


More (not much better) photos starting at #9 here, I think.
posted by loquax at 3:41 PM on June 3, 2006


The caption to this picture is a little confusing to me... Do law enforcement evidentiary presentations routinely display props of incriminating evidence that might have been recovered alongside the actual evidence recovered to help flesh out the "story" the evidence presumably tells on its own? If so, it seems like that might have unintended prejudicial effects. Almost makes it look like they're pitching the idea that these folks are guilty rather than trying to figure out whether or not they are, doesn't it? Just sayin'...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 3:58 PM on June 3, 2006


Wouldn't a cell-phone trigger have the not-so-trivial risk of wrong numbers?

Yes, if you trigger off the first ring. A smarter trigger would count rings -- say, 12 in two minutes, with forwarding to voice mail at 4 rings, so you'd have to call several times to make the trigger fire.

Even better would be DTMF decoding, so the phone is answered, you dial a number, if it matches, you energize the relay. The ICs to do this are decidedly cheap and trivial -- any microprocessor, plus a DTMF decoder chip -- but you do need some smarts to put it all together.

However, looking carefully at the URL Chuckles posted, it seems the battery packet isn't tied directly to the cell, they run to wires that run to the circuit board. I can't seen anything that looks like an IC, but there's not enough resolution and the angles aren't right. It does look like protoboard, not a custom PCB -- the board doesn't have the soldermask color that most PCBs have.

If the phone is hooked up via the headset jack, with auto answer on, using DTMF tones to trigger is the logical way, and solves the accidental dial problem.
posted by eriko at 4:04 PM on June 3, 2006


SFGate.com, via Reuters, has a higher resolution pic here.

The yellow alligator lead goes to the battery, hooks to a red wire going to the circuit, the white hooks to the battery and a black wire. These are almost certainly VCC and ground.

On the circuit itself, the black boxlike object closest to us appears to be a power jack, a bog standard 2.5mm one. Just to the right is a fairly large capacitor, almost certainly used as a decoupling cap. Behind the power jack is an IC, in a socket, it looks like it has 8 or 10 pins, eight is far more likely. Behind it, the blue boxlike component is a dip switch bank, appears to be
4-6 switches. The tall red object isn't clear to me, it might be a trimpot or a varicap, but I'm not very confident. Behind that is an LED -- the red color of the epoxy is pretty clear, probably an idicator LED. Just in front of the white box is a TO-92 mounted semiconductor, probably a transistor, might be a voltage regulator. Near it appear to be several resistors mounted flush on the board. I'd bet the TO-92 device is a transistor, it switches the relay, which is the big white box. Coming off the back, we have three wires, two red, one black. I suspect the black wire is ground, and the red wires carry the current through the relay, but that's a guess.

The brown cylinder at the back really and truly looks like a A sized model rocket engine, which certainly wouldn't fire ANFO off by itself -- but it might be hot enough to start a booster explosive. However, I'm guessing as to what it really is here, just not enough detail.

The soldering iron is a cheap RatShack peice of crap, but at least it isn't some 75W board melter. The probes on the meter are really cheap as well, somebody didn't want to spend lots of money on it.

I suspect the 8 pin IC is a microcontroller, but that's pure speculation, but the bank of switches implies that something needs to be set, and I can't think of anything short of a microcontroller that would need that.
posted by eriko at 4:17 PM on June 3, 2006


Good call on the model rocket motor. I don't think you should need that much battery power to get one going though?!?! I could swear when I was 12 (a long time ago) we used a 9V battery to do that job (with a chemical starter too though).

The PCB looks to have green solder mask and silkscreen to me. Now that I think about it, the red post is the arm of a toggle switch.
posted by Chuckles at 4:49 PM on June 3, 2006


The black dot on the white box looks small for a TO-92.. On the assumption that a relay must be present somewhere, the white box would be it, otherwise I would say it could be a big film cap..
posted by Chuckles at 4:50 PM on June 3, 2006


eriko: Of course, looking at my desk, I see almost the exact same things, mod a large bag of AN... pretty much everything in that picture is on my desk, right now.

Hmmm, where is the 'report to homeland security' option in Flag This Post?
posted by SenshiNeko at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


How Canadian is that, the police station has hockey nets.
posted by Mitheral at 4:56 PM on June 3, 2006


Oh, fuck me.

It's a kit. It's a goddamned kit, and I should have recognized Vellman's handiwork right off the bat.

You're right, Chuckles, it's got a mask and silkscreen, because it's Vellman Kit MK160, the Remote Control via GSM Mobile Phone.

The IC is a PIC, a 12C508. It triggers off the backlight of the phone, which turns on when the phone rings. There's an option to require 2 triggers -- two calls -- to activate the relay. The kit has to be in a light tight box, like, say, a black plastic tool kit.

I should have figured out anybody with a piece of shit iron like that wasn't doing circuit design....
posted by eriko at 5:25 PM on June 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


In the linked view, the relay is blue, but that dot is a TO-92 transistor -- a BC578, a PNP transistor that pulls the coil on the relay.

I have no idea what the other three switches do, but they're all hooked to the PIC -- four pins for the DIPs, GP5 is the input from the LDR (through an op amp) and GP6 is tied to the base of the transistor.
posted by eriko at 5:30 PM on June 3, 2006


Never mind, I figured out the other switches -- SW4 switches between "Call twice and fire", and "Call once, wait $FOO, and fire" -- the other three switches just set the delay -- the table is on the PCB, which is why I didn't notice it in the manual.
posted by eriko at 5:32 PM on June 3, 2006


Soooo....what the heck are you guys talking about? Plausible detonator (or whatever), or nothing suspicious, in your opinions?
posted by loquax at 5:36 PM on June 3, 2006


Well, the electronics are perfectly plausible, but it does not imply organization or expertise of any kind. Any high school kid could come up with it. Most elementary school kids could, for that matter.

Great work eriko! I couldn't get the criminal element out of my head.. Al-Qaeda makes custom PCBs and ships them around? Not bloody likely! But I didn't think kit..

The red shaft is attached to a trim pot to adjust light sensitivity. I don't recognize the part, that doesn't mean much though. It could just be some scrap bit of plastic glued on.
posted by Chuckles at 5:45 PM on June 3, 2006


? Plausible detonator (or whatever), or nothing suspicious, in your opinions?

Very plausible detonator. The one thing I don't see for certain is a detonator or booster capable of firing ANFO. Otherwise, the only other thing you need to destroy that room is some diesel fuel -- everything else is on the table.

That brown cylinder that really looks like a model rocket engine may well be a detonator -- but I note that most model rocket ignition boxes work off 12VDC. Yeah, you can use a 9V battery, if the battery is strong. Alkalines can't fire many detonators, but they sure can fire off the little igniters that model rocket engines use.

If they found acutal detonators, or something high-order to act as a booster, and given that they found all this in a Toronto Suburb, it all spells bomb.

Chuckles -- I've seen those red shafted pots before -- on Vellman kits, no less, which is why I kept thinking "man, that looks like somebody hacked up a kit..."
posted by eriko at 6:01 PM on June 3, 2006 [2 favorites]


Thanks both, I wish I would have paid more attention in high school physics (and chemistry?).
posted by loquax at 6:05 PM on June 3, 2006


(earlier i wrote: The caption to this picture is a little confusing to me... Do law enforcement evidentiary presentations routinely display props of incriminating evidence... [blah blah blah...]
now that i've actually read the source material for this post, i see how stupid this remark was. i've got to stop knee-jerk posting in response to comments. sorry again; i'm apparently turning into what i hate most in MeFites.)

anyway: so based on this analysis of the detonator, terrorist plot seems plausible; meaningful links to big bad Al Qaeda seem at least a little overblown. is that an accurate read?
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 6:09 PM on June 3, 2006


guess I pegged the legit uses:

applications: turn on lighting, heating, open your gate, simulate presence, control animal feeders, activate car alarm, etc...
posted by Mitheral at 6:12 PM on June 3, 2006


meaningful links to big bad Al Qaeda seem at least a little overblown

This is the key quote from the authorities I think:

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.

Not that they have "links" to "Al Qaeda", whatever that is these days. Although they appear to have links to some folks in Georgia (USA) and another person who had links in the UK, as far as I understand it. They appear to be similar (in theory) to the UK gang that committed the tube bombings and the gang that performed the Madrid train bombing. Unaffiliated, inspired natives or naturalized citizens of the country that they attacked.
posted by loquax at 6:14 PM on June 3, 2006


Some more early info on who these people may (or may not) be.
posted by loquax at 6:28 PM on June 3, 2006


And what appears to be a CSIS document accessed under the Access to Information Act discussing Islamic extremism in Canada.
posted by loquax at 6:32 PM on June 3, 2006


I hate the way this is being used as propaganda in support of new anti-terrorism laws...

You mean these ones, Chuckles?
These ones passed over four years ago, by a Liberal majority government, and has only been used twice (Including this time)?

The scariest thing in this thread is the Blue State/Red State Conservative Bogeyman Envy displayed by some of my countrymen, and their willingness to give into the same type of political polarization that's made the United States such a mess.

This keeps up, and Canada will stop being known for its plentiful maple syrup, and start being known for its abundance of saps.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:53 PM on June 3, 2006


I feel like the unstated premise here is that many (all?) of the high-profile terrorism cases in the US post 9/11 turned out to be based on scant evidence and failed to hold up in court. But the government still went ahead and claimed that they had foiled terrorists within the US.

I'm not sure how much reason there is to think that's the case here, though. But I think people have become wary of trumped-up terrorism threats. Possibly to the point of being overly-paranoid about same.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:07 PM on June 3, 2006


Here is another interesting Star article: How Internet monitoring sparked a CSIS probe.
posted by Chuckles at 7:08 PM on June 3, 2006


Flagged several of eriko's comments as fantastic.

loquax: I suppose you have to look at the number of successful attacks in the US lately?

Benjamin and Simon discuss the American Muslim community in some detail. ... the American Muslim community has been inhospitable to jihadists and, thus far, largely immune to the radicalization going on elsewhere. One of the stunning contributions of the 9/11 Commission Report was its documentation of the solitary path of the hijackers while they were in America. They appear to have had more contact and support with individuals from foreign embassies than with American Muslims.

In The Next Attack, they warn:
How religious identity and Muslim Americans' sense of their place in the society evolves will directly affect America's domestic security. The more disaffected individuals, the greater the danger that jihadists will gain a foothold in the United States. While the danger of radical outsiders coming into the country will always exist, the chance of a successful attack will be magnified if American citizens link up with them or if groups of American self-starters emerge. The question now is whether conditions are developing that would make these events more likely.

There is good reason to worry. The same government dragnet that demonstrated the low level of terrorist activity has created a new uncertainty and even animosity on the part of Muslim Americans. ... more than 760 immigrants secretly arrested and detained, some for many months. ... seventy men, all but one of them Muslim, have been jailed for weeks or months as "material witnesses" since 9/11, without having been charged with crimes. These and other actions, like the wholesale and seemingly random interrogation of thousands of American Muslim men, sent shock waves throughout the community. One of the sorest points for American Muslims has been the aggressive prosecution strategy set by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. This has led to a series of shoddy cases and a succession of dubious sting operations. ...

Incidents like these have engendered a sense of vulnerability and resentment among many Muslims and have succeeded in instilling a fear of Muslims among the general popuation. Opinion surveys show that one in four Americans holds a negative stereotype of Muslims. About a quarter of the respondents in a July 2004 poll believed that Muslims "value life less than other people" and "teach their children to hate unbelievers." ... More disturbing is the fact that nearly half of those queried in a December 2004 poll believe that the U.S. government should curtail Muslim civil liberties, with a quarter stating that Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government.

Such opinions could initiate a dynamic of alienation and hostility of the kind found in Europe. Significant numbers of Muslim Americans, polls show, feel that they receive neither respect nor tolerance. According to one survey, nearly 75 percent of Muslims "either know someone or have themselves experienced an act of anti-Muslim discrimination, harassment, verbal abuse or physical attack since September 11." The incidents include pulling the headscarves off girls' heads, spitting, and verbal epithets. Of course, large majorities of Muslims already strongly disagree with U.S. policies in the Middle East and toward the Muslim world in general, a fact that cannot be overlooked in gauging the potential for greater alienation.
posted by russilwvong at 7:16 PM on June 3, 2006


Some more early info on who these people may (or may not) be.

Uhoh: "Unmarried Computer Programmer".

Terrorist.
posted by slatternus at 7:16 PM on June 3, 2006


From that article:
According to sources, the suspects allegedly planned to target the spy service because many of them had encountered agents early in the investigation, when they were interviewed and put under surveillance. They also were allegedly angered by media reports accusing CSIS of racial profiling of Muslims.

Many of the agents were known to members of the group only by aliases, but the belief that the office had been targeted led to months of unease among CSIS staff, sources said.
bizarre!
posted by Chuckles at 7:17 PM on June 3, 2006


Best.
NewsFilter.
Ever.

Anybody who tuned out while the "be more suspicious of the police" meme was propogating missed out on some of this site's best citizen journalism ever. Bravo to eriko and thanks for keeping your cool, loquax.

Key words: "inspired by al queda", in the same way that so many bad made-for-tv movies are "inspired by actual events". The need for somebody in authority to use the al-q-word in the early press releases does send up warning flags for future political shenanigans. It sure looks like a foiled terrorist plot, albeit one that ultimately will earn a "DUMBASS" tag at Fark.

Again, thanks for a MetaGood thread.
posted by wendell at 8:59 PM on June 3, 2006


The detonators of the 11 March 2004 Madrid bombs and the 7 July 2005 London bombs were triggered by the alarm function of cell phones (Madrid ref., London ref.). Also, the 7 July Londond bombs were acetone peroxide rather than ammonium nitrate. It seems as though the failed 21 July 2005 London bombings used some form of manual trigger, but it is hard to find anything authoritative.

Not all cell phone bombs use kits (something about the 'call missed' thing seems.. unlikely..).
posted by Chuckles at 11:00 PM on June 3, 2006


This is an interesting page all about cellphones as triggers.

I think I'll quite there.. Anyway, I flagged eriko as fantastic too, way to go!
posted by Chuckles at 11:16 PM on June 3, 2006


eriko, you rock. well done. flagged accordingly.
posted by shoepal at 11:44 PM on June 3, 2006


Roundup of some newish news...

The delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate to a group suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in southern Ontario was part of an undercover police sting operation...

A Canadian counter-terrorism investigation that led to the arrests of 17 people accused of plotting bombings in Ontario is linked to probes in a half-dozen countries...at least 18 related arrests had already taken place in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh...

List of reactions from various people, including Canadian Islamic groups

“I’m shocked that it’s so close to home,” he said. “But I’m quite happy that the RCMP was able to stop this terrorist attempt, if the allegations are true. It’s quite scary that someone would live in Toronto and would like to blow up buildings and kill people here.” - Canadian Muslim Congress spokesman Tarek Fatah

“They are very conscious of the fact that this is a small group of criminals and they don’t reflect the vast Muslim community in Toronto.”
While Fatah couldn’t discount the possibility that “nut bars” might retaliate against innocent Muslims, he thought it unlikely.
posted by loquax at 12:45 AM on June 4, 2006


so the police set up the delivery???
posted by amberglow at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2006


Also, the 7 July London bombs were acetone peroxide rather than ammonium nitrate.

I still have trouble beliving this. Acetone perxoide, aka Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) is a pretty powerful explosive, but for all intents, it is useless. It just isn't stable enough to work with. It is far less stable than Nitroglycerin, and it gets less stable with time.

If I understand correctly, it is claimed they made the TATP a week before the bombing. The chances of them getting week old TATP into a train station are just about nil -- the stuff would become so sensitive that just bumping the case would set it off. The fact that they had three go off within 50 seconds implies that the bombs went off when they meant to.

Alas, I've never seen any definite statement as to what the explosive is, and every legitimate news site uses words like "believed to be" when describing the explosive as TATP.

I just don't see three guys walking around with 4.5kg of week old TATP and making it to the trains. It is possible, but the odds are really against it.
posted by eriko at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2006


this is a complete setup--the cops sold the stuff to them (did they also sell the group on buying it in the first place?)

where did the money to buy all that come from? how much does 3 tons of that cost?
how did the cops set up the sale? was it them acting as salesmen? did they approach the group or did the group approach a legitimate salesperson outside of the police? did the group go to actual agricultural supply places or sites? did they ever show clear intent to buy that much stuff? and why? whose idea was it to sell them 3 tons of anything? the cops or the guys? ...
posted by amberglow at 8:09 AM on June 4, 2006


how much does 3 tons of that cost?

According to this page, $290 a ton.

So, less than a grand for three tons.
posted by eriko at 8:31 AM on June 4, 2006


this is a complete setup--the cops sold the stuff to them

What are you basing that assertion on, Amberglow, apart from your pathological need to spin this story into your bizarre paranoid new world order narrative?
posted by slatternus at 8:47 AM on June 4, 2006


Well, keep in mind that so far, only "sources say" that the RCMP was controlling the sale of the AN:

Sources say investigators who had learned of the group's alleged plan to build a bomb were controlling the sale and transport of the massive amount of fertilizer, a key component in creating explosives. Once the deal was done, the RCMP-led anti-terrorism task force moved in for the arrests.

Even if that's the case, not sure I see the problem, pending details. Guys have a plan, go about putting the plan in action, they're arrested when a rigged deal goes through. It's not entrapment or a "setup" unless the cops were part of the gang, telling them what to do and how to do it. I haven't seen anything alleging that.
posted by loquax at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2006


I'm basing it on actual words in the newspaper, and that not one of the people had any previous experience with any sort of agricultural or explosive stuff, and they knew they were under surveillance, again according to the newspapers.


...In short, we don't know much yet about what these men and boys were trying to do. We don't know if this series of arrests, called Operation O-Sage by the Mounties, pre-empted the kind of actions that in the United Kingdom led to last year's bombing of the London subway by otherwise unremarkable young Britons.
That's one possibility. It's certainly the explanation favoured by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who yesterday praised the police.
Another is that this is a reprise of the infamous 2003 Project Thread fiasco, in which RCMP and immigration officials accused 23 Muslims of terrorism only to acknowledge later that at most the men were guilty of minor immigration fraud.
Still another possibility is that this may turn out to be Canada's version of the 2004 Virginia "paintball" trial, in which one man was sentenced to life and another got 85 years.
In that controversial case (even the presiding judge complained the outcome was unfair), nine Muslim men were convicted of participating in terrorist training — the main evidence being that they had played paintball in the woods outside Washington.
What we do know about Operation O-Sage is that the RCMP, as well as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, have been tracking the suspects since 2004. We also know that at least some of their neighbours knew police were watching them. Presumably, some of the suspects did, too.

If the alleged conspirators knew they were under surveillance, it seems odd that they continued along merrily with plans to make explosives.

But perhaps they are not bright terrorists. Or perhaps they are not terrorists at all. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:10 AM on June 4, 2006


and slatternus, if you want to talk of "pathological needs" and "bizarre paranoid" stuff, look those words up in a dictionary first before you insult others.

And the presumption of innocence based on clearly documented past government (many governments--from Canada to the US to the UK to Spain, etc) misdeeds, lies, and failures involving terror arrests is not at all in any way connected to even one of those words.
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2006


NYT: ...It was not clear whether the group ever had possession of the chemicals, or whether authorities may have had a role in arranging for the shipment or transporting the material.

A police spokeswoman, Cpl. Michele Paradis, asked whether the group had actually had the three tons of chemicals in their possession, and if the police had "seized" it, replied: "That's difficult to answer. They made arrangements to have it delivered and they took delivery." ...

posted by amberglow at 9:41 AM on June 4, 2006


What are you basing that assertion on, Amberglow, apart from your pathological need to spin this story into your bizarre paranoid new world order narrative?

Nothing, unless amberglow can show that the police compelled them and helped them to build the detonator. Otherwise, they clearly had the intent to get the fertilizer eventually, and just happened to have the bad luck to ask the police to sell it to them.
posted by oaf at 9:50 AM on June 4, 2006


Which means that this—this is a complete setup—is demonstrably false.
posted by oaf at 9:51 AM on June 4, 2006


Otherwise, they clearly had the intent to get the fertilizer eventually,

is demonstrably false as well, based on everything released so far.
posted by amberglow at 10:28 AM on June 4, 2006


They were going to build a detonator just for kicks, without getting anything to detonate with it?
posted by oaf at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2006


i believe all sorts of people build all sorts of things (including potentially very dangerous things) all the time. Aren't instructions for all of these things easily found online? or in Popular Mechanics? One of them is an electrical engineer--i bet he builds stuff all the time, everywhere. I bet his house, office, and car are full of parts for stuff and bits and pieces of other things. Too bad he's a young Muslim guy tho. As a matter of fact, just on Friday, FBI hazardous material experts searched a home where police found pipe bombs and a jar containing the potentially deadly poison ricin, federal agents said Friday.
...
Investigators found three blasting caps in the shed during their search on Friday, but no more ricin or other hazardous materials, said Eric Kehn, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ...
The resident, 55-year-old William Micheal Matthews, had not been charged Friday in connection with the bombs or ricin.

posted by amberglow at 11:14 AM on June 4, 2006


no "massive terror attack averted" headlines there, and that guy actually had bombs and ricin....funny how that works, no?
posted by amberglow at 11:20 AM on June 4, 2006


I'm pretty impressed by reaction of the average Torontonian and even the Canadian media. The usually FOX-ish CTV News has held back on the fear mongering. Most outlets seem to be maintaining a "innocent until proven guilty" tone and aren't villifying anyone. The only media I've seen paying any attention to an Al-Queda link is U.S.

I'm not seeing many calls for increased security or immigration reform. For most people the scariest part is that they grew up here. Their hatred also doesn't seem to have begun at home (some of the younger members forged letters about a bogus school trip to give to their parents so they could attend).
posted by dripdripdrop at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2006


Why do you keep on linking to irrelevant American examples of anti-terrorist bungling? What does this have to do with proving unfairness or bias in the Canadian justicesystem?
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 11:26 AM on June 4, 2006




Nothing, unless amberglow can show that the police compelled them and helped them to build the detonator.

Okay. I've been a little slack in terminology, but I thought I'd made the point clear.

What that phone-in-a-box is -- it is a trigger. You call the phone, it pulls a relay, sending current to something.

It is *not* a detontator capable of settting off ANFO. 12V of electricity, even at 30A, isn't going to do anything to ANFO. Most blasting caps won't set off ANFO. The standard detonator to fire ANFO is a stick of TNT -- 400 grams worth. Note that TNT isn't easy to set off either -- easier than ANFO, but not easy. A blasting cap will fire TNT. TNT will fire ANFO. Thus, a detonator chain -- something fires a cap, firing the TNT booster, which fires the ANFO.

That thing that I think might be a model rocket engine has no chance -- zero - none -- of setting of any amount of ANFO, or, for that matter, TNT, if it is in fact a model rocket engine.

The box is certainly set up as it if were going to trigger a bomb -- but the one thing I want to see is a detonator chain capable of firing ANFO. A blasting cap and a stick of TNT would be enough. I've heard of large amounts of contained black powder doing the job, and a model rocket engine would certainly fire that, but I don't have proof that it'll work, and I don't see any powder or pipe bombs.

You know, anymore, count me as one of the suspicious ones, esp. when the US or UK is involved, as they apparently are here, and doubly so now that Canada has a Conservative government doing things from the George Bush "I'm the president, fuck you" playbook.

So, yeah, I'm still a bit leery. That box is a useful remote trigger, but I still see *nothing* that would fire ANFO.
posted by eriko at 12:16 PM on June 4, 2006


russilwvong writes "More disturbing is the fact that nearly half of those queried in a December 2004 poll believe that the U.S. government should curtail Muslim civil liberties, with a quarter stating that Muslim Americans should be required to register their whereabouts with the federal government."

!!!
Maybe they should just make them sew a special symbol to all their clothing.

oaf writes "They were going to build a detonator just for kicks, without getting anything to detonate with it?"
Note that as eriko explains they don't have a detonator yet and sure, why not. It would be an interesting challenge.
posted by Mitheral at 1:20 PM on June 4, 2006


It would be an interesting challenge.

Well, it was until I found the kit, which sort of takes all the fun out of it -- esp. the really lame way they interfaced with the phone -- an LDR over the freaking display to see the backlight? Wow. Can't think of *any* way that could accidently trigger. "Hey, is the phone on? " Opens lid. "Yep!" Closes lid. Circuit sees "dark, light, dark" pattern, triggers relay. Oops.

Actually, that's almost a miswart -- cop wonders WTF, opens case, sees thing that screams detonator, closes case to run and call in the bomb threat, boom.

And oaf nails a point. Wouldn't a cell-phone trigger have the not-so-trivial risk of wrong numbers? Even if they are using the dial-twice feature, there's still a good chance a wrong number is going to fire the trigger at the wrong time, because many people have the habit of immediatly redailing a wrong number, in case they merely miskeyed the phone number.

There are kits out there that acutally parse DTMF, which means you'd have to enter a code to fire the trigger.

Cell phone triggers have become enough of an issue that countermeasures are becoming common. The first one was just jammers. Problem -- nothing RF works when a nearby jammer hits. Problem two -- clever guys build a circuit to trigger off the jammer, esp. if they wait for the singal strength to peak (thus, the jammer is close.)

More clever is a hijack cell -- it acts like a cell tower, with a direction antenna. You point it at a suspected package and turn it on. Since the box is very close, and the directional antenna adds gain, the box quickly wins the "best tower" election, and the cell phone uses it. Of couse, the box never passes calls to the cell phone. No call, no trigger.

Counter-countermeasures are obvious, but start to get complex.
posted by eriko at 1:44 PM on June 4, 2006


It's pretty clear from the media reports now that this was a sting operation. The police had been watching this group for at least a year and the purchase of the AN was done with their permission. This was a sting. Clearly the RCMP are using the purchase of the fertilizer as the point at which it became undeniable that this conspiracy was about to commit a crime. These make eriko's comments about a potential detinator (or not) all the more pertinant.

One interesting thing, that I've not seen much discussion of, is that this group came to light through a CSIS monitoring program. What's not being revealed is how CSIS found out about it. Was this through a human browsing through likely discussion boards, or was this a more worrying TIA-like phone tapping-network like the one that AT&T was reported to haev been running for the NSA? News reports could be read either way.
posted by bonehead at 2:01 PM on June 4, 2006


Really, the only thing that can be said at this point is "The investigation is ongoing." We MeFites haven't anywhere enough information to make a good judgement on what has happened.

I would very much like to hear what our privacy commissionaire has to say about how the CSIS monitoring was done.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:13 PM on June 4, 2006


OK, so it's part of a detonator. But it's not a complete frame-up like amberglow is claiming, and the police aren't lying, unless they actually built it themselves.
posted by oaf at 4:19 PM on June 4, 2006


You know, anymore, count me as one of the suspicious ones, esp. when the US or UK is involved, as they apparently are here, and doubly so now that Canada has a Conservative government doing things from the George Bush "I'm the president, fuck you" playbook.

So, yeah, I'm still a bit leery. That box is a useful remote trigger, but I still see *nothing* that would fire ANFO.


Thank you for the most objective view presented so far, eriko.
posted by Mr. Six at 6:11 PM on June 4, 2006


Another new article with some interesting bits:

So when a shadowy group of disaffected urban youth began talking in an Internet chat room in the fall of 2004, espousing anti-Western views and vowing to bring the battle home, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was listening....

Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee had been communicating by email with the Canadian group, investigators allege, and in March 2005 the two hopped on a Greyhound bus, paying $280 (U.S.) for two round-trip tickets to Toronto, where, according to U.S. court documents, they were to meet with "like-minded Islamists." "According to Ahmed ... they met regularly with at least three subjects of an FBI international terrorism investigation," the court documents allege, and discussed "strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike."...

Talk in the group was wide-ranging, according to an American law enforcement official, "about a whole range of targets." Officials and U.S. court documents allege group members were scouting targets that included Canadian government buildings, American oil refineries, and a U.S. tower that they believed controlled global positioning systems used in aviation.
...

Although police haven't officially said so, sources have told the Star's Michelle Shephard that the final act in the multi-year investigation came when federal agents intercepted the group's order for the fertilizer, and arranged to have it delivered by truck. But, the Star has learned, police switched the fertilizer with a harmless powder before making the delivery. After the deal was done, the handcuffs came out....

Charges against the men — who return to Brampton court tomorrow — include participating in or contributing to the activity of a terrorist group, including training and recruitment; providing or making available property for terrorist purposes; and the commission of indictable offences including firearms and explosives offences for the benefit of or in association with a terrorist group....
posted by loquax at 7:20 PM on June 4, 2006


A google cache of Stratfor's report on Syed Haris Ahmed. (The original text is not available directly from Stratfor's site.)

Likewise, their report on Ehsanul Islam Sadequee.

These do not sound like reputable men:
In a very recent case, former Canadian resident Ehsanul Islam Sadequee has been accused of conspiring with a Georgia Tech student, Syed Haris Ahmed, to attend a militant training camp in Pakistan and planning terrorist attacks against targets in the United States.

Ahmed was indicted in April on charges of conspiring to provide material support for terrorism. Sadequee was interviewed at JFK International Airport in August 2005 before boarding a flight bound for Bangladesh and thus far, it is believed, has not returned to the United States. Federal authorities since have filed an affidavit supporting an arrest warrant for Sadequee that provides great detail about the allegations in the case.

The affidavit claims that Sadequee -- a U.S. citizen who attended high school in Ontario -- made false statements to FBI agents when he was interviewed about a March 2005 trip to Canada. Sadequee told the bureau he had traveled alone, but the FBI had evidence that he and Ahmed had been traveling together. The purpose of the trip, according to the affidavit, was to meet with Islamist "extremists" in Canada. Ahmed reportedly said during his interview that they discussed possible targets for a terrorist strike in the United States, such as oil refineries, military installations and the global positioning system, and made plans to attend a military training camp in Pakistan.

The affidavit also notes that three people Ahmed and Sadequee met with in Toronto are subjects of an FBI international terrorism investigation (and thus, presumably, were under the scrutiny of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and CSIS.) Also, Ahmed and Sadequee reportedly traveled from Georgia to Toronto and back via bus. Though they still had to pass through immigration and customs inspection points, the security procedures applied to bus passengers are far less intensive than those used by the airline industry.
It sounds to me more and more likely that the arrests are justified: you don't hang out with the likes of Ahmed and Sadequee and order up tons of a base component of bad-ass bombs, without coming across as a realistic threat.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on June 4, 2006


loquax - I was just going to post that same article. "...intercepted the group's order for the fertilizer..." seems to partially contradict the previous article, making it sound less like the RCMP set them up. Watching and waiting until these guys place the order themselves, instead of saying "hey, I could hook you up with some AN", should quiet some concerns that they were pushed into this.
posted by exon at 7:45 PM on June 4, 2006


Watching and waiting until these guys place the order themselves, instead of saying "hey, I could hook you up with some AN", should quiet some concerns that they were pushed into this.

This definitely helps put my mind to rest. I was starting to think my earlier slip about the framing of the evidence wasn't actually a slip at all.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 9:29 PM on June 4, 2006


The Times is reporting 6 of the men attended the same Mosque in Mississauga:

Their attendance at the mosque, Al-Rahman Islamic Centre for Islamic Education, is one of the few public pieces of information that clearly link any of the suspects...

He spent a lot of time with youth," said Faheem Bukhari, a director of the Mississauga Muslim Community Center who sometimes attended prayers at the mosque. "He'd take them for soccer or bowling, and talk to them."

Mr. Bukhari said Mr. Jamal never openly embraced violence or talked about Al Qaeda, but was "very vocal and I believe could incite these young kids for jihad."...


Some Islamic community leaders in the Toronto area have raised concerns that the younger men may have been led to participate in a suspected plot by older, more radical Muslims, like Mr. Jamal.

"I do not think of him as an imam," said Tareeq Fatah, the communications director of the Muslim Canadian Congress. "People like him are freelancers. I don't fear imams. I fear freelancers who are creating a Islamacist, supremacist cult."

posted by loquax at 11:20 PM on June 4, 2006


More responses from Canadian Muslim groups (and some comments from the lawyers)
posted by loquax at 11:31 PM on June 4, 2006


And more from a new Globe article:

Targets of the alleged plot included political and economic symbols such as the Parliament Buildings and Peace Tower in Ottawa, along with the CN Tower and Toronto Stock Exchange in Toronto.

But because of the fertilizer's deadly potential, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute has for several years been working with police and retailers in efforts to spot orders for any unusually large sales.

And that looks to be what happened in this instance.

Asked about the delivery, Mr. McDonell said that as with chemical precursors used to manufacture illegal drugs, “Some of the distributors alert police to suspicious purchases.”

A controlled delivery does not constitute police entrapment unless it can be shown that the target was induced to do something he would not otherwise do.

posted by loquax at 11:37 PM on June 4, 2006


Charged are Fahim Ahmad, 21, of Toronto; Zakaria Amara, 20, of Mississauga; Asad Ansari, 21, of Mississauga; Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, of Mississauga; Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, of Mississauga; Mohammed Dirie, 22, of Kingston; Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, of Kingston; Jahmaal James, 23, of Toronto; Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, of Toronto; Steven Vikash Chand (alias Abdul Shakur), 25, of Toronto; Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, of Mississauga; and Saad Khalid, 19, of Mississauga.

This made me laugh: the only terrorist named Steve is also the only one with an alias: "Please, please, call me Abdul. Only my mother calls me Steven."

And roll call at the terrorist hideout would have been fun. "Fahim? Here! Qayyum? Here! Jahmaal? Here! Steven? [*general snorting and snickering*].... oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. [*makes fingerquotes*] Ab-duuul? Here." You just know he was the one who had to try harder than the other guys.
posted by pracowity at 2:28 AM on June 5, 2006


I'm curious: now that more information has come to light, are the skeptics still skeptical?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:43 AM on June 5, 2006


yup, and so are many others...

... He had questions, as did Jacobs, about exactly how three tonnes of ammonium nitrate were "acquired" by the suspects. The Star has learned that when investigators monitoring the men found out about the alleged purchase of the fertilizer, they intervened before delivery, switching the potentially deadly material with a harmless substance.

Jacobs advised vigilance in seeing what comes out in court about how far police went. He said that the courts have been drawing a line past which law enforcement officers can't go without being seen as having induced the commission of a criminal offence.

He found it interesting that police referred to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing where 168 people died in an explosion at a federal building. He said that if, for example, police arranged for delivery of the ammonium nitrate, it would shed a different light on proceedings.

"In Oklahoma City, there was no suggestion police were involved," said Jacobs, adding that there are a number of important unanswered questions in the investigation.
...
Fox chuckled at the way evidence was presented, notably the use of similar bags of ammonium nitrate, not the actual evidence.
...
"Was there a police infiltrator?" asked Fox. "Did a spouse talk to police or did someone arrested on more minor charges give information to police? We don't know what kind of a police operation it was. Everybody thinks that it's like on TV, but everything is far more complicated."
...
Problem is, said Pike, that police and prosecutors "make a big deal of what they've got, but as trials progress, we've repeatedly seen that the prosecution's case falls apart because they simply don't have the evidence."

posted by amberglow at 7:08 AM on June 5, 2006


also, the timing of this, just after that guy Hooper testified about the massive homegrown threat and stuff (some of his statements were then knocked down by Day)...way way too convenient. It's like he pulled these guys out of a hat to say, "see? i was right!"

Six days ago in an eerily prophetic appearance before a Senate committee, Canada’s No. 2 spymaster delivered a frightening warning. ... What is of concern, however, is the grave warnings that CSIS’ Hooper testified to at the Senate committee last week. He warned that after decades of cuts, CSIS is stretched beyond the ability to do its job. That only one in 10 immigrants and refugees coming from terrorism hotspots like Afghanistan and Pakistan are being vetted — a claim Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day later refuted, insisting that “100%” of all necessary security checks are being done.

Canadians need straight answers on these issues — now — including Hooper’s warning that a growing number of white, Anglo-Saxons are converting to radical Islam and thus becoming prime assets for al-Qaida recruiters because of their ability to blend in with Canadian society. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:30 AM on June 5, 2006


The Star has learned that when investigators monitoring the men found out about the alleged purchase of the fertilizer, they intervened before delivery, switching the potentially deadly material with a harmless substance.

It's true the Defense Lawyers (the skeptical 'many others' amberglow linked to above) are going to have a field day with this. "The Police Gave Them The Fertilizer!"

I read the above paragraph from The Star like this: The police found out this group wanted fertilizer, realized what they wanted the fertilizer for, and stepped in.

It's not like the cops planted 3 tons of fertilizer in someone's house. These folks wanted to buy fertilizer to make bombs. The cops got wind of this and stopped them.

Or as loquax said above:
But because of the fertilizer's deadly potential, the Canadian Fertilizer Institute has for several years been working with police and retailers in efforts to spot orders for any unusually large sales.

And that looks to be what happened in this instance.

Asked about the delivery, Mr. McDonell said that as with chemical precursors used to manufacture illegal drugs, “Some of the distributors alert police to suspicious purchases.”


A controlled delivery does not constitute police entrapment unless it can be shown that the target was induced to do something he would not otherwise do.


If someone's associating with known terrorists AND trying to buy bomb-making materials, then I believe the police are in the right to arrest them. Or, as five fresh fish said above,

It sounds to me more and more likely that the arrests are justified: you don't hang out with the likes of Ahmed and Sadequee and order up tons of a base component of bad-ass bombs, without coming across as a realistic threat.

On preview: I think these guys were a legitimate threat and I think The Government will try to use this case to its advantage. It's important for the Canadian People not to be terrorized into giving away our rights as Americans have done.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:53 AM on June 5, 2006


are the skeptics still skeptical?

Of course. It's too soon to sit back and just trust the authorities. If this is a solid arrest we will still have to hold the agencies and the gov't under suspicion for some time to come, until we see how they try to capitalize on it, like pushing through bad laws, changing the constitution, sucking up tax dollars etc. I'm not scared if these guys are bonafide terrorists. I'm not willing to trade any civil liberties for so-called security.

Right now I'm worried about how the teenagers are going to be processed, treated, whathaveyou. It's got to be determined how much they may have been manipulated or in the thrall of the older men; I don't want to see the YOA pushed aside because this is a case of "terrorism". I mean geez, there's rampant terrorism going on in my neighborhood right this minute thanks to the tongs & the mafia, but it's quieter (and really old news) so no one gives a shit.
posted by zarah at 7:59 AM on June 5, 2006


It's not like the cops planted 3 tons of fertilizer in someone's house. These folks wanted to buy fertilizer to make bombs. The cops got wind of this and stopped them.

But, did the COPs make it easier for them to bypass industry safety precautions?

Anyway, it seems likely that at least a core group of them had nefarious intentions. However, Canadian authorities are playing it for maximum effect, and it is very hard to figure out how big a thing it actually was.
posted by Chuckles at 8:26 AM on June 5, 2006


“Their alleged target was Canada, Canadian institutions, the Canadian economy, the Canadian people,” Mr. Harper said. “We are a target because of who we are and how we live, our society, our diversity and our values — values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The values that make Canada great, values that Canadians cherish.”

[Public Safety Minister Stockwell] Day dismissed the notion that the alleged terror plot was tied to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan--


Say what?! With the parliamentary take-note debate over Canada's deployment to Afghanistan having taken place just recently, it would make sense to raise the issue and argue forcefully that Canada and NATO are there because Afghanis want them there. It's in neither Afghanis' interests nor Canada's interests for Afghanistan to dissolve into chaos again. The terrorists aren't acting on behalf of either Afghanis or Muslims, they're acting on behalf of al-Qaeda.
posted by russilwvong at 10:03 AM on June 5, 2006


russilwvong - agreed.

Another new article purports to describe local suspicions in Northern Ontario.
posted by loquax at 10:33 AM on June 5, 2006


And now the charges against the suspects have been released...
posted by loquax at 10:52 AM on June 5, 2006


There is a lot of hay being made about the "training camp". I got to wonder what the heck these guys were training with automatic weapons for if their MO was to bomb the heck out of buildings? I think these guys may have watched a few too many showings of Die Hard.

The 9/11 guys had their shit together: They didn't go around getting arrested, they didn't get together for totally unnessecary "training", they didn't start turf wars over drugs, etc. etc.
posted by Mitheral at 11:12 AM on June 5, 2006


I note there's not one charge of buying 3 tons of fertilizer (which i had read was illegal to buy in large quantities there without clearance), unless that's Six are also charged with intending to cause an explosion causing serious bodily harm or death. ???


What defines them as a "terrorist group" for the purposes of charges? Is that solely up to the police and politicians?
posted by amberglow at 11:36 AM on June 5, 2006


And roll call at the terrorist hideout would have been fun. "Fahim? Here! Qayyum? Here! Jahmaal? Here! Steven? [*general snorting and snickering*].... oh, I'm sorry, I forgot. [*makes fingerquotes*] Ab-duuul? Here." You just know he was the one who had to try harder than the other guys.

Heh. although to be fair, Abdul-Shakur is the name, not Abdul, Abdul is not a name on its own.
posted by cell divide at 11:50 AM on June 5, 2006


"Terrorism legislation" confuses me immensely. Based on the charges against them (and barring future disclosures of evidence), it would appear that in order to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they are a "terrorist group", one must prove that they had "terroristic intentions" (ie, the bomb making and planting), but it's difficult to prove that unless you first prove that they are a "terrorist group" (because all of the physical evidence described thus far has other theoretical uses). Not only that, but proving "intent" is always a lot of fun. Is purchasing the fertilizer enough? Should they wait until the bomb is assembled? Until the truck is parked? A terrible catch-22 of logic, unless and until intent can be proven via communication, plans, or other related conspiracy elements, which I'm sure are forthcoming, otherwise the police will look foolish. I would guess it would likely be contained on the hard drives seized, as well as the videotapes and intercepted communication.

Steven Vikash Chand

Is this an Indian name? Sikh?
posted by loquax at 11:53 AM on June 5, 2006


I notice that details of the charges against the minors have not been released. I wonder if they'll be tried as adults? Isn't the max for a Young Affender around 2 years?
posted by dripdripdrop at 1:20 PM on June 5, 2006


dripdripdrop writes "Isn't the max for a Young Affender around 2 years?"

No. Youths charged under the YOA can be sentenced up to ten years (a maximum of six to be served in a secure facility) for first degree murder. Several other crimes carry possible sentences of longer than 2 years.

amberglow writes "Is that solely up to the police and politicians?"

The Crown Prosecutor (Canadian analogue to DA I think) decides what charges to press. Police only make recommendations to the Crown which they can decide to ignore. The Crown Prosecutor isn't an elected position. FYI this is a big difference between Canada and the US, we don't elect Sheriffs (who do something different in Canada anyways), judges, prosecutors, dog catchers, county clerks, etc. etc. School boards, city council, mayors, MLAs and MPs are elected and that's about it.
posted by Mitheral at 2:52 PM on June 5, 2006


I guess this story belongs here too: Mosque Vandalized.
Omar Farouk wandered slowly around the huge Rexdale mosque yesterday, pausing briefly at each of the three dozen broken windows and glass doors.
[...]
Farouk said the attack, which appeared to be the work of a single vandal using an axe or hammer, was the first vandalism at the mosque since a single window was smashed the night following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001.
Not pretty.
posted by Chuckles at 5:13 PM on June 5, 2006


We'll at least the fool doesn't hold a grudge longer than a couple days.
posted by Mitheral at 7:27 PM on June 5, 2006


I have no reason to doubt our police did an honest take-down on these guys. And no reason to doubt our government's involvement in the action. (But, still, Harper is a fucking twerp. I hate scabby politics, spewing simplistic platitudes and bullshit.)

Frankly, I'm glad they caught these guys. And I'm glad the guys were dumb enough to be caught. I mean, shit, what do a bunch college kids need with tonnes of ammonium nitrate? And they've been hanging out with badasses? Puh-lease.

Hell, they're probably a decoy.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 PM on June 5, 2006


are the skeptics still skeptical?

Of course. It's too soon to sit back and just trust the authorities. If this is a solid arrest we will still have to hold the agencies and the gov't under suspicion for some time to come, until we see how they try to capitalize on it, like pushing through bad laws, changing the constitution, sucking up tax dollars etc. I'm not scared if these guys are bonafide terrorists. I'm not willing to trade any civil liberties for so-called security.


Ditto.

Mitheral IIRC the Attorney General* now has power under the new Anti-Terrorism Act to add names to a list of known terrorists. Also, "the Attorney General's consent is require to prosecute all of the new terrorism offences."[link]

*amberglow the Attorney General of Canada (which is part of the Minister of Justice's portfolio) is the Chief Crown Prosecutor and an elected member of parliament.
posted by squeak at 10:53 PM on June 5, 2006


So, is the timing of Gwynne Dyer's latest column, the international terrorist conspiracy, just a coincidence? As accurate as ever (although I can see a possible arguments on the Afghanistan issue), but in light of recent events..

Today on studio 2, Richard Gwyn - who is no Gwynne Dyer, but is still a competent commentator - called them a group of buffoons (I think that's the word he used).
posted by Chuckles at 11:28 PM on June 5, 2006


Thanks Chuckles. Dyer is the man!
posted by stinkycheese at 6:52 AM on June 6, 2006


Here's a backgrounder on most everyone arrested.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 AM on June 6, 2006


I forgot about the AG, my dealings with the criminal courts never involved him (thank god, you know the accused is in serious trouble when the AG is handling her case).

From your link squeak:
To ensure that the courts can deal with an expected increase in enforcement, appeals and reviews connected to the Government's new Anti-Terrorism Plan, the Act will increase the number of Federal Court judge positions by up to 15. Of these new positions, 13 can be added to the Trial Division, while two can be added to the Court of Appeal.

So despite this being only the second case brought to light we have 15 new judges. Whee!
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2006


No good articles on this one yet, but it is too bizarre to hold back on.. Suspect in bomb plot accused of wanting to behead PM.
posted by Chuckles at 9:48 AM on June 6, 2006


Oh, yeah. That's "Steve", er, Abdul "Tupac" Shakur. As per an above comment by pracowity:

"You just know he was the one who had to try harder than the other guys."
posted by hobocode at 10:43 AM on June 6, 2006


From Chuckles' link: Batasar said he was given an eight-page synopsis of the allegations, including storming Parliament, blowing up some of the buildings and taking politicians hostage to demand the withdrawal of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. If the demands were not met, it is alleged, Chand wanted to behead Stephen Harper.

Damn.

I'm really having a hard time here not making jokes about a beheaded Stephen Harper. What strange times we live in.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:07 AM on June 6, 2006


--storming Parliament--

Sounds like the December 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.
posted by russilwvong at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2006


Well, it has happened in Canada, actually. Denis Lortie kills three at Quebec legislature. I could swear there was a more recent incident too, possibly less deadly.
posted by Chuckles at 12:17 PM on June 6, 2006


A more detailed look at Qayyum Jamal - "The Friendly Zealot"
posted by loquax at 12:19 PM on June 6, 2006


Wow! That tape by Denis Lortie they talk about in the CBC archive clip was left for now member of parliament for Portneuf-Jacques-Cartier, André Arthur (source).
posted by Chuckles at 12:25 PM on June 6, 2006


From the CBC archives link:
When Marc Lepine killed 14 women in 1989 at Montreal's École Polytechnique (commonly known as the Montreal Massacre), Lepine left a note that mentioned Denis Lortie. Lepine seemed to admire Lortie.
posted by Chuckles at 12:31 PM on June 6, 2006


this has gone from theater to theater of the absurd---beheading? not. they have proof?
posted by amberglow at 4:01 PM on June 6, 2006


Amberglow, evidence has not yet been presented. They will make their next court appearance June 12th (a bail hearing), and then their trial date will be set. At the trial, the evidence will be presented and the crown will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting their charges, and the defense will have the opportunity to challenge that evidence.

I don't know why you're calling this this theatre. What behaviour on the part of the crown or the police do you object to and why?
posted by loquax at 4:15 PM on June 6, 2006


So despite this being only the second case brought to light we have 15 new judges.

The Act is dated December 18, 2001. We've had those 15 judges for some time now. (Or do we? How does one go about finding out who has become a judge and when?)

If the demands were not met, it is alleged, Chand wanted to behead Stephen Harper.

Who can hold that against him? Sheesh. I want to behead Stephen Harper, too, some days.

I just can't trust him to not fuck up this country; I still retain a big hate-on for the last significant PC PM, the big ol' B.M.1

Steve "Abdul Shakur"

Honestly, can you blame him? Becoming reknown as "Steve the Terrorist" would be simply embarassing.

Theatre

There are many aspects of this case that are challenging to well-established protocols for both prosecution and defense. This will take a good amount of time to fully play out. Our checks and balances on change are fairly conservative and tend toward individual privacy and protection.

Indeed, I daresay most everything that is being revealed at this time is small-time crap that they have absolutely no intent of using in the case.

1Their desire to sleep with the USA economy is a little too strong for my tastes: I prefer we remain an independent and global trading partner. Diversification is good.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:18 PM on June 6, 2006


Mitheral writes: "Youths charged under the YOA can be sentenced up to ten years (a maximum of six to be served in a secure facility) for first degree murder. Several other crimes carry possible sentences of longer than 2 years.

Youth offences are no longer governed by the YOA. They would be tried under the Youth Criminal Justice Act of 2002.

The YCJA still carries a max 10 year sentence for first degree murder, and 7 for second degree murder.
posted by aclevername at 5:54 AM on June 7, 2006


What behaviour on the part of the crown or the police do you object to and why?

All of it. The absurd stuff they're leaking, the leg irons, the snipers, the excessive cordoning off of neighborhoods, etc....and this lays out more: ...This is not quite the image that the government and police are portraying of the 17. They paint the suspects as part of an efficiently sinister conspiracy devoted, in Harper's words, to destroying "freedom, democracy and the rule of law."
As such, the arrests last week come at convenient time for the Harper government. A rise in the public's fear quotient could increase popular support for his decision to keep Canadian troops in Afghanistan another two years to wage war against Taliban and other insurgents.
Polls show that public support has been slipping for that war. The spectre of terrorism at home, however, might convince more Canadians that the Afghan war is necessary.
(Given that police have said the suspects are homegrown terrorists unconnected to any international ring, it might make more sense to station Canadian troops in Mississauga, where most of the 17 live, rather than Kandahar. But it is unlikely the Harper government will make this argument).
The arrests also come at a time when Parliament is conducting a mandatory five-year review of Canada's new anti-terror laws. Before the arrests, there was a possibility that parliamentarians might recommend that the Harper government ease up on some of those laws. That now seems unlikely.

For this, we can thank one of the world's most incompetent — or perhaps one of the world's most far-fetched — terrorist conspiracies.

posted by amberglow at 7:46 AM on June 7, 2006




All of it. The absurd stuff they're leaking, the leg irons, the snipers, the excessive cordoning off of neighborhoods, etc.

The crown didn't leak that information (regarding parliament and the PM), one of the defense lawyers did. I don't know how you can call it absurd without seeing the evidence. It may well be idle chatter. On the other hand, these folks associated with convicted gun smugglers, had weapons, and bought three tons of bomb-making material.

What's wrong with leg irons? What's wrong with securing the courthouse? Why is the cordoning off of neighbours excessive, and what makes it so? These people have been accused of some of the most serious crimes possible. Do you expect that they should be released on their own recognizance? Do you expect the police not to take extra precautions? Do you expect that a threat against our PM should not be taken seriously when made by radicals that cavort with gun smugglers, known criminals, zealots and bomb makers? Because some of the things these guys may appear to be stupid (barring further evidence) and that they may not have been able to pull off what they intended, should they just be released with a chuckle?

I think that everything thus far has been handled well. Any potential threat from these people has been removed. They've been charged quickly, given access to lawyers, and they will have a chance to challenge the evidence against them in court. I don't see what you think is so absurd about any of this without having seen the evidence against them. What would you have the police do with 17 people accused of being a terrorist gang with the intention of murdering innocent civilians and executing the government?

and this too: Police put on a `good spectacle': Snipers, leg irons, selected evidence, police brass — all calculated to sway the public, lawyers and security experts say

Well, if "lawyers and security experts" say so, it must be true.
posted by loquax at 8:21 AM on June 7, 2006


As to the timing having anything to do with Canada in Afghanistan, I don't see it. I've never heard the Afghan mission described as something to protect Canada or that we are chasing people who might attack Canada. It's always been framed as creating stability to help Afghans rebuild.
posted by dripdripdrop at 9:31 AM on June 7, 2006


I'm not so much skeptical as holding my judgment in reserve. If these men really did plan to blow up buildings and kill hundreds of people in the process, I want them tried and convicted and jailed for the rest of their lives. If they aren't guilty, I want the RCMP and various police forces to answer for what they've done and to undergo some kind of overhauling to keep them from ever doing such a thing again.

I've been taken aback by some of the things in this thread.

Canada has a Conservative government doing things from the George Bush "I'm the president, fuck you" playbook.

I just don't agree with this at all. I do NOT like Harper and was very upset that he won the last election, but he's no George Bush. For one thing, he's intelligent. I disagree with him often, but he's not stupid nor incompetent nor being manipulated by his supposed underlings. For another, he only has a minority government, so he's on a short leash. He can't change any laws without the support of the other parties. And so far at least I see nothing that indicates the Canadian government has run amok in the way that Bush's administration has.
posted by orange swan at 10:35 AM on June 7, 2006


From the CBC: "The group also had a plan, and at one point had a rental agreement, for a house in Toronto where the bomb-making supplies would be stored and the bombs constructed. But they later changed their minds and moved to a warehouse."

The same news report claims that they had a plan to buy a farm as a cover for obtaining the required ammonium nitrate. If these allegations prove true (we'll see but I have a lot of faith in the honesty of the RCMP) then this is fairly damning evidence.

Interestingly, the same report also says: "The intelligence investigation found that Amara had obtained a fully functional remote triggering device and he was actively seeking ways to obtain nitric acid to be used as a triggering device for the ammonium nitrate the group thought it had obtained."

Perhaps eriko, he of awesome comments, could weigh in on the use of nitric acid in this context?
posted by exon at 5:30 PM on June 7, 2006


nor being manipulated by his supposed underlings

My fear is that Harper will be manipulated by his lust for power or greed.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 PM on June 7, 2006


But that's motivation, not manipulation. And at least then we have one autonomous person doing the job he was elected to do, rather than a marionette controlled by people who weren't elected heads of state.
posted by orange swan at 5:27 AM on June 8, 2006


Perhaps eriko, he of awesome comments, could weigh in on the use of nitric acid in this context?

I blush.

Nitric acid is a rather potent oxidizer, and it's fairly easy to mix it with any number of things and get a high grade explosive that would act as a booster to ANFO -- Nitrogylcerin, TNT and RDX all use nitric acid as a primary component.

The "easiest" to make is Nitroglycerin, easiest in the sense that the reaction is fairly easy to create in your own kitchen. However, it's also one of the easiest way to die from making explosives -- let it get a bit too hot, or stir too violently, and wham. Nitroglycerin, however, would certainly be able to detonate ANFO. If they managed to make nitro without killing themselves, they could mix it with diatomaceous earth, which would make dynamite, a much safer way to carry nitrogylcerin around. But there's a whole lot of "ifs" between a vial of nitric acid and a useful boost explosive.

Of course, one of the more common industrial uses of nitric acid is making ammonium nitrate, but somehow, I get the sense that this wouldn't be the reason they'd want the stuff.
posted by eriko at 2:15 PM on June 8, 2006


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