June 9, 2006

Vincy arrested in Canada

A 23-year-old Vincentian-Canadian and a 21-year-old Trinidadian-Canadian are reportedly among 17 people busted last Friday for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported that Jahmaal James, 23, is among those arrested in a sting operation on Friday night and early Saturday morning with partners of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team. The operations involved 400 officers.{{more}}

James, of Scarborough, Ontario, is the son of a Vincentian man who emigrated from St. Vincent almost thirty years ago. It is reported that the unemployed young man regularly prayed at the Salaheddin Islamic Centre and distributed material about Islam at local public schools. James resides with his father and grandmother in Scarborough, and reports indicate that he recently returned from at visit to Pakistan, where he married a Pakistani woman. He has been charged with knowingly participating in or contributing to activity of a terrorist group, and receiving training with a terrorist group.

Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, of Robin Drive, Mississauga, Ontario was born in Canada to a medical doctor who emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago in 1955. He recently graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. with a degree in health sciences, and has been charged with knowingly participating in or contributing to activity of a terrorist group, and receiving training with a terrorist group.

The 17, five of whom are so young they cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, were charged under Section 83 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

“This group took steps to acquire three tonnes of ammonium nitrate and other components necessary to create explosive devices,” said Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell. “To put this in context, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people took one tonne of ammonium nitrate.”

“Our investigation and arrests prevented the assembly of explosive devices and attacks being carried out. At all times, the focus of our investigation was the safety and protection of the public,” concluded McDonell.

Aly Hindy, an imam at a Toronto mosque, who knew most of the accused, doesn’t believe they are terrorists but said that today’s society has stereotyped Muslims into terrorists.

“The problem is these days when a Muslim commits fraud, it becomes terrorism. When he commits stealing it becomes terrorism,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.

Luc Portelance, Assistant Director of Operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) said that “for various reasons, they appear to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaeda”.

The other suspects include one from Jamaica as well as Canada, Somalia and Egypt. The 17 charged last Friday include James, Ghany, Fahim Ahmad, 21, Zakaria Amara, 20, Asad Ansari, 21, Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, Mohammed Dirie, 22, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, Amin Mohamed Durrani, 19, Steven Vikash Chand, 25.

The arrests according to Canadian authorities were the largest since the country passed its Anti-Terrorism Act in 2001.