Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism to the World

by Stewart Bell
ISBN: 0470834633

Post Your Opinion
A Review of: Cold Terror: How Canada Nurtures and Exports Terrorism Around the World
by Martin Loney

The attack on the World Trade centre was a transforming moment in American politics, putting the issue of national security at the top of the agenda. The failures of American intelligence and the culpability of government agencies have been at the forefront of debate and Congressional and Senate investigations. Canada has seen no similar paradigm shift, though as Stewart Bell clearly demonstrates, Canada is not only at risk of terrorist attack it is a major source of terrorist organisation and financing. Canada has done so little to confront terrorist groups that Bell pithily observes, "Its most valuable contribution to the war on terrorism may well be its terrorists."
Bell, a reporter with the National Post, has been alerting Canadians to the growing threat to their security for more than 12 years. His eloquent account leaves no doubt that the ultimate responsibility for Canada's failure to curb terrorist activity lies with Canadian politicians, who have preferred to curry favour with ethnic voters rather than confront domestic terrorists and their supporters. Al Qaeda has provided a focus of some concern but those who pose a threat less directly aimed at Canada have had even less trouble setting up shop.
Sikh militants in Babbar Khalsa had a free run in Canada even as they addressed Sikh congregations urging a holy war to seize power in the Punjab. Bell reviews the antics of Vancouver-based Talwinder Singh Parmar, wanted in connection with the murder of two police officers in the Punjab. Parmar made no secret of his support for armed insurrection, distributing photos showing him fully armed for battle. In 1984 he told a Hamilton congregation: "Until we hand the heads of those sinners on the tips of our swords we will not rest." One of Parmar's associates was Ajaib Singh Bagri. Following the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Bagri made an impassioned speech to the founding conference of the World Sikh Organization calling for a war on the Hindus: "Yes, there must be our handshake with the Hindus: we will shake hands. Where? On the battlefield." It was to be another year before the Air India bombing occurred and 16 years before Bagri was charged for his alleged role. Parmar, another suspect in the bombing, was killed by Indian police in 1992. In the meantime Sikh militants in Canada continued their campaign of terror against their enemies in India and Sikh moderates in Canada.
Bell argues that the lack of effective action against Sikh militants reflected the failure of Brian Mulroney and the subsequent Liberal government to see that this was a harbinger of wider threats: "the opening of a new era that would see the world's major ethnic, religious and political conflicts spill across Canada''s borders."
If Canada failed to recognize the danger posed by Sikh extremists, it was positively hospitable to terrorists waging attacks on Sri Lanka. Canadian newspapers and magazines warned of the growing number of trained Tamil Tiger militants who had been admitted into Canada (10,000 according to a 1996 Maclean's report) and the growth of terrorist-related crime in Toronto's Tamil community. For their part Canadian politicians showered Tamil organisations with money and vied to address Tamil rallies. If the Sri Lankan government had willingly hosted thousands of terrorists intent on the break-up of Canada and had stood by while millions of dollars were raised to fund terrorist enterprises in Canada Canadians would have been outraged. That is precisely the role Canada played in aiding Sri Lankan terrorists. Bell describes a "Victory Celebration" at Queen's Park organised by the Canadian Branch of the Tamil Tigers and attended by Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis, whose Scarborough-Agincourt riding includes a large Tamil population. Karygiannis is a regular at such events. In May 2000, then finance minister Paul Martin and minister of international cooperation Maria Minna, attended a dinner hosted by the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT) even though they had been explicitly warned that it was a front organization for the terrorist Tamil Tigers. Looking at the Queen's Park rally Bell wonders how a known terrorist organization can hold a rally at the provincial legislature addressed by an MP from the national governing party. But that is in many ways an apt illustration of Canada's role in hosting terrorists.
Jean Chretien was particularly assiduous in wooing ethnic voters. The murderous Khadr family has been much in the news recently; Bell's book helpfully reminds us that the elder Khadr, who immigrated to Canada from Egypt, was once a favoured client of Canada's development agency. CIDA provided funds to Human Concern International, though the organization's humanitarian mission took second place to its role in supporting the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. An intimate of Osama bin Laden, the Egyptian-born Khadr was arrested in Pakistan following an attack with a truck packed with explosives on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, in 1995. CSIS, which had been monitoring Khadr's activities, was not surprised but this proved no deterrent to Prime Minister Chretien. Responding to a lobby by Canadian Muslim groups, Chretien raised the Khadr case with Pakistan's then Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, during a state visit in early 1996. Three months later Khadr was released and returned to jihad. He was killed in October 2003 in a skirmish with the Pakistani army.
Bell has written a courageous and carefully researched indictment of the failures of successive Canadian governments to confront the threat of terrorism. It will be extraordinarily difficult to reverse this trend. Terrorist groups now have deep roots in Canadian soil. Our immigration and refugee determination system has proved porous to those who threaten our safety and incapable of removing even the most vicious. Bell cites the attempt to deport a Tamil Tiger leader and an Iranian government hit man; no less than eight groups intervened on their behalf before the Supreme Court, none intervened to insist that Canada cease being the destination of choice for terrorists.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us