The precious timing of the U.S.-Canadian Operation Smooth (the alleged “Via Rail plot”) with its rehearsed modus operandi is also aimed at creating a racist fear climate, writes PHILIP FERNANDEZ in an edition of TML Weekly Information Project devoted to state terrorism.
ON APRIL 22, right at the time when Parliament was set to debate Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, the RCMP announced that working closely with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other U.S. secret police, it had foiled an alleged Iran-based al-Qaeda cell which had planned to bomb a VIA train on the Toronto-New York line. Two men, 30-year-old Chiheb Esseghair, a Tunisian-born resident and doctoral student, and 35-year-old Raed Jaser, a Palestinian national living in Canada for about two decades, were arrested. The RCMP admitted at the press conference that there were no definite plans for these attacks, but that they had been monitoring these two men since August of last year and that these individuals were “planning” such an attack.
Both men were arrested in Gestapo-style paramilitary operations – Esseghair while he was eating in a McDonald’s restaurant in Montreal’s main train station, and Jaser at his workplace in Toronto. Why was this necessary after nine months of surveillance, if not to terrorize not only the accused but onlookers as well, and to “communicate” to the Canadian people that they are in imminent danger and therefore a police state is justified. The police forces can walk in at any time and arrest anyone the state wishes to target – all in the name of ensuring the safety and security of Canadians. By implication, the victims of these crimes of the state are not Canadians. In the alleged “Via Rail” plot both men have stated that there is no proof of the allegations against them and that they would vigorously defend themselves in the courts. However, anti-terrorism legislation permits them to be held without charges and permits everything to be conducted in secret.
The news of the arrests spread quickly over the monopoly media. The effect was to assault the sensibilities of the people and create a racist backlash against the Muslim community in general and the Palestinian resistance in particular, as well as against refugees who allegedly enter the country under false pretexts. This has been done before, as in the case of the 2003 arrest of 19 Muslim students from Pakistan and India living in the Greater Toronto Area – a so-called al-Qaeda sleeper cell, in what the RCMP called Operation Thread. Sixteen were subsequently deported. Later it was shown that there was no basis for the arrests and that the state had fabricated the evidence. No apology or compensation was given to these young men for the assault on their basic human rights and the suffering they experienced both in Canada and after they were deported.
There is also the case of the so-called Toronto 18 in 2006, another group of national minority youth who were “entrapped” by the Canadian state which used two CSIS moles who were paid handsomely for their work. At the end, seven of the youth had their charges dropped because there was no case against them. They too were not compensated for their mistreatment and did not receive an apology from the police or the government. They will forever bear the burden of being a “terror suspect.” Others “confessed” under blackmail to being involved in terrorist activity. They were told they would serve long prison sentences if they were to resist.
The timing of this latest arrest of Esseghair and Jaser, right after the terrorist attack in Boston, and the role of the FBI in both cases also shows how the FBI is being given an increasing role in Canada.
Related reading on this website
“No to FBI presence in Canada!,” December 21, 2001. The Canadian Press reports that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has asked the United States Congress for more money “to increase its permanent presence in Canada to prevent terrorist attacks and deter cross-border crime.”
“The FBI’s bomb factory,” April 18, 2013