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Terrorists thrive north of our border
By Deroy Murdock
Scripps Howard News Service


March 17, 2005

New York - Without neglecting the U.S.-Mexican border, American officials better eye the northern frontier, too. While most Canadians are as friendly as Labrador retrievers, that attitude is not universal.

"I'm not afraid of dying, and killing doesn't frighten me," Algerian-born Canadian Fateh Kamel said on an Italian counterterrorism intercept. "If I have to press the remote control, vive the jihad!"

Kamel was convicted in France of distributing bogus passports and conspiring to blow up Paris Metro stations. He was sentenced April 6, 2001, to eight years in prison.

But after fewer than four years, France sprang Kamel for "good behavior." Kamel flew home to Canada Jan. 29.

"When Kamel arrived in Montreal, the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) was not even at the airport to greet him," Stewart Bell reported March 4 in Canada's National Post. "As far as they're concerned, he is an ex-convict who has done his time and has committed no crimes in Canada."

Kamel now freely strolls Canada's streets. That's fine, if he limits his violence to moose hunting. But what if he has humans - Americans, even - in his crosshairs?

"We should be looking at him and possibly sending him back to Algeria," Conservative Party deputy leader Peter MacKay said in the Feb. 27 Toronto Star. MacKay believes Kamel symbolizes Ottawa's peaceful, easy feeling toward terrorist killers. "The French authorities wanted him out of the country, and we were all too willing to take him in."

Kamel is not alone. Canada crawls with terrorists, suspected violent extremists, and folks worthy of 24-hour surveillance:

­ "There are several graduates of terrorist training camps, many of whom are battle-hardened veterans of campaigns in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere who reside here," Canadian Security and Intelligence Director Jim Judd told a Canadian Senate panel in Ottawa March 7. Among other things, Canadian-based terrorists have aspired to whack a visiting Israeli official, bomb a Jewish district in Montreal, and sabotage an El Al jet over Canada.

­ Adil Charkaoui was released Feb. 18 on bail. Charkaoui claims no terrorist ties, but al Qaeda honcho Abu Zubaida and convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam say they met him in 1998 at an Afghan terror training camp.

­ Algerian-born Ressam, a failed Montreal refugee applicant and suspected Fateh Kamel protege, was caught by the U.S. Border Patrol on Dec. 14, 1999, at Port Angeles, Wash., after crossing the Canadian frontier in an explosive-laden car. He dreamed of ringing in the millennium by blowing up Los Angeles International Airport.

­ The Washington Times' Jerry Seper reported last Sept. 24 that Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, an al Qaeda cell leader with a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, visited Canada in 2003 seeking nuclear materials for a dirty bomb.

­ Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin attended a May 2000 dinner while finance minister. Its hosts: a front for the Tamil Tigers, a Sri Lankan terrorist group that has killed some 60 people, including two Americans, and injured at least 1,400 others. Martin ignored security officials who warned him away. Wooing Canada's sizable Tamil minority apparently was irresistible.

"There are known al Qaeda cells in Montreal and Toronto," one congressional expert tells me. She nonetheless detects progress among Canadian counter-terrorists. "They are very sensitive about being called a conduit for terrorism. Since September 11, Canada has been on the offense. The RCMP has some joint intelligence centers where both Americans and Canadians operate."

Still, this analyst sees areas of danger, from asylum loopholes to vulnerable infrastructure. Detonating the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, for example, could cripple the most economically valuable trade route linking our two countries.

Harvey Kushner, author of the hair-raising counterterrorism bestseller, "Holy War on the Home Front," is less sanguine. "Canada's immigration policies have let this situation fester and grow," he tells me. "We do not have an electrified fence. When you have a neighbor who is not on the same page, it is indeed troublesome."

The warm U.S.-Canadian relationship, illustrated by our 3,145-mile unprotected boundary, cooled somewhat when Ottawa recently refused to help Washington develop defenses against incoming nuclear-tipped missiles. But that modest dispute will pale beside the northward-flowing rancor that will erupt if a terrorist attack kills innocent Americans, and U.S. officials discover that the butchers slipped past complacent Canadians.


Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a senior fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Va.
E-mail him at deroy.Murdock(at)

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