Our Canadian Friends
The terrorist attacks on 9/11 have opened up our eyes to our real enemies in the world. We thought the Saudis were our friends. And yet 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. One commentator, Stan Monteith, argues that we should have declared war on Saudi Arabia not Afghanistan.
We also thought Canada, our neighbor to the north, was our friend. But months after 9/11, our borders with Canada are still open to potential terrorists. We congratulate the CBS 60 Minutes program for a recent story by Steve Kroft on how Canada serves as a staging ground for terrorists who want to kill Americans. A former high-ranking Canadian intelligence official told Kroft that there are at least 50 terrorist groups, Al-Qaeda among them, operating in Canada whose members could easily slip into the U.S. across the undefended 5,500-mile border.
The interview with David Harris, former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, appeared on 60 Minutes on April 28. Harris said, "We’ve established through our intelligence service and other means that we have 50 terrorist organizations now on our soil… They range in scope from the IRA to Hezbollah, Hamas… [and] certainly Al-Qaeda."
The show made the point that Canada maintains one of the most open immigration policies in the world. Ninety-five percent of foreigners claiming refugee status are immediately allowed to settle in the country, even though half of them have no identification. Joe Bissett, former executive director of Canada’s Immigration Service, said, "We have the most generous refugee system in the world." Since 9/11, Canada accepted 15,000 "refugees" and of those, 2,500 came from terrorist countries such as Algeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
The security problem has also been dramatically portrayed in a book, Waging War From Canada, copies of which were confiscated at the border by Canadian Customs officials. The author, who writes under the pseudonym Mike Pearson and lives in Canada, says that terrorists can freely enter Canada by simply claiming to be refugees and he outlines the four basic schemes they use to enter the country. The National Post of Canada reported that when the American publisher tried to ship two crates of the book to Canada, one was confiscated and one disappeared. The paper said the book draws on public sources ranging from congressional hearings to National Post articles and think-tank reports, and is a blunt critique of the conditions that make Canada a haven for terrorists.
At the trial of Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian who came from Canada to the U.S. to bomb Los Angeles airport, a student testified that he had no trouble applying for six Canadian passports on behalf of non-existent people. Ressam became a Canadian by using a fake student card and a forged baptismal certificate. The National Post says official sources "have acknowledged Canada is known as an attractive country for terrorists because of its multicultural population, refugee policies and location next to the United States." Our friends in the Canadian government can catch books but not terrorists.
Reed Irvine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org