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North America faces 'Sunni Muslim terrorist threat': Canada

North America faces 'Sunni Muslim terrorist threat': Canada

Author: PTI
Publication: India Today
Date: June 29, 2000

Washington, June 29: Sunni Muslim extremists in Canada, who previously gave only limited support to Islamic terrorist groups, have escalated their activities to coordinate attacks on the US and Canada, according to Defense News Weekly reports.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service's 1999 annual report points to Islamic religious extremism as one of the prime motivators of terrorism.  It singles out Sunni Muslim extremism and its connections to terrorist financier Osama Bin Laden as a particular threat to North America, according to the reports.  To back up its case, the CSIS spy agency refers to the December 14, 1999 arrest by the US of Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian, as he crossed the Canadian border to the US, and follow-up arrests of Canadian residents in the US, who had suspected links to Islamic terrorists.  CSIS spokeswoman Margaret Janes said that counter-terrorism activities make up most of the spy agency's work.  "The threat of trans-border Islamic terrorism," she said, "is our No.1 concern."

David Harris, former Chief of Strategic Planning, CSIS, said that Ressem's arrest was only the tip of the iceberg as far as operations go in North America into Islamic extremism.  "CSIS and other elements in the intelligence community," he said, "are extremely active and are pursuing this kind of thing aggressively." Harris called 'Islamic terrorism' an 'extremely dangerous threat to the safety of both the United States and Canada.' The CSIS report notes, what it calls, a disturbing trend among terrorist organisations to use computers in their activities, such as for hacking as well as encryption devices to enhance their operational security.

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