RM Archive - onsite copies of linked stories

RM Issue #030817

Canada put at low to medium risk of attack Global Terrorism Index rates our country the 79th most likely to be targeted out of 186 nations surveyed: Sleeper agents cited

Stewart Bell National Post
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
CREDIT: The Associated Press
Osama bin Laden's terrorist network is attempting to recruit Muslim-Canadians, a researcher says.

Terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden might be planning to strike in Canada, according to a global survey released yesterday that says the country's links to al-Qaeda have put it at risk.

The World Markets Research Centre study said al-Qaeda has sleeper agents in Canada and has recruited Muslim- Canadians, creating a "low to medium" risk of an attack here within the next 12 months.

"Terrorist acts within Canada could be targeted toward U.S. and British tourists, high- potential targets of terrorists, who are known to frequent Canadian cities," said David Rice, a senior research analyst at the centre.

Such an attack could be similar to the one in Bali, Indonesia, last Oct. 12, when Islamic terrorists linked to al- Qaeda blew up two bars crowded with Western tourists, killing more than 200 people, he said.

"Canada has a well-deserved reputation as being a relatively quiet and stable country but Canada is a potential target of terrorism as highlighted by recent evidence that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terrorist network is attempting to recruit Muslim-Canadians to its cause," he said.

"In fact, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation believes 'sleeper cells' of bin Laden-trained terrorist already exist in Canada. The capture of a would-be terrorist entering the U.S. from Vancouver in 1999 with a large amount of explosives in a rental car is evidence that terror groups have used Canada in the past as a gateway to the U.S., taking advantage of a long and difficult border to monitor."

The Global Terrorism Index rated Canada the 79th most likely country to be attacked out of 186 nations surveyed. Canada was ranked a more likely terror target than such turbulent states as Iran and Morocco. Canada was tied with Gambia, Argentina, Turkmenistan and Armenia.

The study measured only the likelihood of a terrorist attack taking place within countries. It did not examine the use of those countries as staging grounds for attacks elsewhere in the world, which is Canada's major terrorist problem.

Canada scored well in the prevention and risk category, earning a top mark for its intelligence and counter-intelligence capabilities. Canadian security agencies scored better than their Israeli and U.S. counterparts.

But Canada did not rate so well when it came to ranking the terrorist presence in Canada. Ottawa fared worst in the most important categories, which rank the motivation and ability of terrorists to attack.

Overall, Canada scored 42.5 on a scale between 1 (least likely to be attacked) and 100 (most likely to be attacked). Canada scored only slightly better than Spain, Saudi Arabia and Peru, countries where terrorists have struck repeatedly. All earned scores of 67.5.

Colombia and Israel were ranked first and second, both earning a risk assessment of "extreme," while Pakistan, the United States/Philippines, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, India, Sri Lanka/Britain filled out the top ten.

Afghanistan was considered at a higher risk of attack than Iraq, underscoring the dangers faced by hundreds of Canadian troops deployed in Kabul.

The London-based study is designed to help companies judge the risks of doing business around the world. Sixty-two regional analysts scored countries in five categories.

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