The 17 people involved are charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which parliament passed in December 2001. Nine are also accused of receiving training to carry out a terrorist act and six with intent to cause an explosion. Media reports claim the 17 are linked to two individuals under arrest in Atlanta and to another arrested in London, England, who is alleged to have ties to al-Qaeda.
Fifteen of the accused appeared June 3 handcuffed and with manacles on their feet in a heavily guarded court here. They have been held in solitary confinement, not been allowed contact with their families, and may only talk to their lawyers through phones monitored by prison authorities. Attorney James Silver, who represents one of the defendants, said, These [security measures] are unparalleled, as far as Im aware, in the history of the Canadian court system.
Stephen Harper, Canadas prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party, hailed the arrests. We are a target because of who we are and how we live, our society, our diversity and our values, he said. Referring to the previous Liberal administration, Harper said that governments on both sides of the House have worked to ensure that our police and security forces are working more co-operatively.
New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton joined the chorus, stating he was thankful that we have a security network with our police services that have been able to nip this thing in the bud.
Canadians have had a very great success in their anti-terrorism efforts, said U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. Others in the U.S. also hailed Ottawas raids as providing useful lessons for the U.S. rulers. An article in the June 11 New York Times, headlined Lessons From Canada: Snooping Works, said: If radical Islamic terrorists emerge from within, border agents and port inspectors are unlikely to catch them. Better to use, some security experts say, a controversial tool in the war on terror: domestic intelligence and snooping.
A massive media barrage is treating the accused as if they were already guilty. The front-page headline of the June 7 Globe and Mail, for example, claimed those arrested were planning to Storm Parliament Hill, Seize the politicians, Behead the Prime Minister.
Prof. Jasmine Zine, a spokesperson for the newly formed Concerned Citizens Against a Rush to Judgment, criticized the tremendous rush to attribute guilt without meaningful questioning of the security apparatus or being thoughtful in scrutinizing the evidence.
On June 4, a mosque in Rexdale, a suburb of Toronto, was vandalized. Many windows of the building were broken.
The Communist League (CL) in Canada issued a statement June 9 calling for opposition to the police raids, arrests, and other curbs on workers rights under the antiterrorism banner. It continued: The rights of the accused must be defendedincluding presumption of innocence, private meetings with their lawyers, and complete access to all evidence against them. The real target of these attacks on basic rights, it said, is the fighting capacity of working people and our unions, not terrorists.
The CL also called for immediate withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan, where they are deployed as part of the U.S.-led war on terror.
Bush: Killing of al-Qaeda leader in Iraq part of long war on terror
Oppose U.S.-led war on terror
UK: Protesters oppose anti-terror measures
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