Spy agency CSIS warns of homegrown terror in Canada

OTTAWA – The Toronto 18, an alleged terror ring, is an example of homegrown plots that pose the biggest risk to Canadians, the head of Canada’s spy agency warns.

Richard Fadden, director of the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the danger of “radicalized” second and third generation Canadians is his agency’s greatest worry these days.

Citing trends seen in Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia, he said Canadians who are otherwise well-integrated economically and socially, “become appallingly disenchanted with the way we want to structure our society.”

“For one reason or another they develop connections with their former homeland, they become very, very disenchanted and they are led to contemplate doing violence,” Fadden told a parliamentary committee Tuesday.

“They reject the rule of law, they want to impose Sharia law. They want to do a whole variety of things,” Fadden said, adding there’s several such groups in Canada his agency is investigating.

“That’s the most worrisome part, I think, of our work today. It’s the people who have been in this country for quite a while who are rejecting the very essences of what we are in Canada,” he said.

The Toronto 18 refers to a group of people charged in June, 2006 with belonging to a cell plotting a terror attack on Canada in retaliation for its military involvement in Afghanistan. They had plans to use three one-tonne truck bombs to target the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Front St. offices of Canada’s spy agency and a military base off Highway 401.

Fadden said CSIS agents working in Afghanistan have been saving lives thanks to their interrogations of suspected Taliban insurgents captured by Canadian soldiers.

During the agency’s early years in Afghanistan, he said the Canadian Forces “were not organized” to interview suspects, leaving the job to CSIS agents.

“We were frequently brought in to ask them questions, usually trying to ascertain their identity, to try and find out what they had been up to,” Fadden said, adding that in most cases the interviews less than 20 minutes.

“So yes, our job involves talking to people in Afghanistan who potentially would do harm to Canadians,” Fadden said.

He said the intelligence gleaned is passed to Canadian and Afghan forces, adding, “we have saved Canadian lives.

“The only way we can do this is by communicating with people who know about potential plots to harm Canadian and allied lives,” Fadden said.

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