Educated, well off, respected in the community. Decent fellows. Then, if poverty and lack of education didn’t cause their jihad, there must be something else. And gee, this is always so awkward: if those factors can’t explain it, there must be something else.
Something else, something else… ill-fitting shoes? Radio station renege on its promise of “less talk, more rock?” It could be anything, but, of course, Islamic texts and teachings!
OTTAWA — The profiles of three alleged Islamist extremists whom police say posed “a real and serious threat” to Ottawa and national security are at odds with the notion that terrorists exist on the margins of society. Two of the accused men are professionals — a doctor (and father of three) and an x-ray technician.
The third studied to be an electrical engineer. All are apparently intellectually mature individuals rooted in Canadian life. One even appeared on the reality program Canadian Idol. While much is still to be learned about them, poverty, deprivation and social alienation do not appear to have been part their alleged descent to homicidal hatred.
Yet it is that very ordinariness that has police and security experts concerned. How are they to spot potential terrorists before it’s too late? In this case, police say the arrests thwarted possible terror bombings around Ottawa and against Canadian troops in Afghanistan. “This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of National Capital Region and Canada’s national security,” RCMP Chief Supt. Serge Therriault, head of criminal operations for the capital region, told an Ottawa news conference Thursday.
He said an RCMP-led national security investigation employing about 100 joint-forces officers for the past year was forced to move on the suspects this week to prevent “financial support” going to international terrorists for weapons to attack western coalition forces.
Raids on two west Ottawa addresses Wednesday uncovered more than 50 circuit boards police believe were intended to remotely trigger detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Also seized was what police described as a “vast quantity” of schematics, videos, drawings, instruction books and electronic components for IEDs. Investigators believe the suspects are part of a domestic terrorist group with links to international terrorism. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service was the first to begin investigating the individuals, though no details have been released.
“There are certain individuals in Canada who have adopted an ideology inspired by international terrorist groups who promote heinous violence to achieve their goals,” CSIS Assistant Director Raymond Boisvert told the packed news conference. “This case reiterates the serious nature of this threat, which can result in tragic consequences if left unchecked.” The spy agency at some point alerted the Mounties, who assigned the “Project Samossa” file to the Ottawa-based Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, one of four across the country dedicated to combating threats to the country. RCMP in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and other parts of Ontario assisted. The alleged plot was in its early planning stages and “months” away from being operationally viable, Therriault said. “There remained, throughout, a varied degree of imminence to the threat, whether they were going to conduct an attack or not and how it was going to be done,” he said.
It is not clear even whether specific Ottawa targets had been selected. “Because the plot was located here it was always a concern that targets were potentially located in this area,” he said, adding more details will come out in court. With all of its political, diplomatic and other important national symbols, many undefended, Ottawa is a target-rich environment. The Internet, meanwhile, allows easy “electronic scouting” — pictures, maps, histories and satellite images — of many sites….