Straight Talk
SIMON KENT - Canadian passport prized by terrorists

Credits: QMI AGENCY

SIMON KENT | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - Have Canadian passport, will travel ... and start killing.

That’s the deadly new mantra of select terror organizations around the world as reaffirmed by the RCMP.

The insight came Monday as the barest of details emerged of the involvement of dual Canadian citizens in the al-Qaida-linked Algeria gas plant attack in January.

RCMP spokesman Greg Cox confirmed “a second Canadian has been identified from human remains of alleged terrorists in the attack at the gas plant.”

Previously the force would only say there was one death in Algeria, but declined to say whether the individual was among the militants or victims.

This revelation follows last year’s connection between a Canadian and the Hezbollah-linked bus bombing in Bulgaria.

In that case, the Vancouver-born terror suspect had travelled from his new home in Lebanon to Bulgaria and returned using his Canadian passport.

The reason at least three known terrorists have now been found to have travelled on Canadian documents to commit their ghastly work abroad is easily explained.

Appearing before a recent hearing of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, a senior official with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said terrorist groups were actively seeking Canadian passport holders because they attracted less suspicion.

“We see certain terrorist organizations in particular target the use of the Canadian passport because of its value, because it facilitates travel so easily and so smoothly,” said Michael Peirce, CSIS’ assistant director of intelligence.

“And they will seek out dual nationals for the purpose of using that passport to facilitate travel.

“And we’ve seen that, at least some indications, in regard to Hezbollah, for instance. So that document is an extremely valuable document and gaining citizenship in order to be able to use that document is a noted goal.”

Nations with porous borders, including Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, have all been identified as countries drawing “dozens” of Canadian passport holders to leave their home and actively participate in foreign armed conflicts.

The document they carry is becoming so prized it has seen a private member’s bill introduced in Parliament threatening anyone convicted of acts of terror with the loss of their Canadian passport.

Conservative MP Devinder Shory has tabled Bill C-425.

It seeks to give Ottawa the power to revoke citizenship from dual nationals convicted of committing acts of war against Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to go a step further.

Kenney wants an amendment adding that those who commit treason and terrorism to the list of people deemed to have forgone the privilege of holding a Canadian passport.

“Canadians are rightly outraged that someone would commit violent acts using Canada’s passport,” Kenney said. “If the allegations are true, these terrorists clearly have no sense of loyalty or commitment to this country.

“Rather, they are violently committed to extremist ideas, and willing to kill innocent civilians and allies of Canada.”

Christian Leuprecht, associate professor of political science at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen’s University, acknowledges the recent occurrences but cautions that it’s not time to panic.

He told the Toronto Sun there have been other examples of terrorists using Canadian passports, but that there is no established “pattern of behaviour” to cause Canadian security forces to react beyond heightened awareness.

“This is not a systemic problem, “ Leuprecht said, “but it is a growing one on the available evidence.

“I think we should realize the value of the Canadian passport but also acknowledge there are people — and countries — that target it as a document of convenience to aid cross-border terror networks.

“The Canadian passport has certainly been used by various terror groups to aid the smuggling of arms between Canada and the U.S.A. and on to third-party clients as far back as 1997.”

Leuprecht pointed to the arrest and conviction of the Toronto 18 and cited the example that at various times terrorist groups have been identified in Canada with origins in ethnic, regional and nationalist conflicts as far apart as Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Punjab, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the former Yugoslavia.

“It therefore pays for our security agencies to be just as alert at home as they are abroad,” Leuprecht said.

 

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