Canadian terror messages worrying officials
Published: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A Quebec man has posted messages on the Internet encouraging al-Qaeda to attack Canada, the latest in a series of similar sentiments that are worrying counterterrorism officials.
The author of the messages, who uses the pseudonym Altar, praised terror leader Osama bin Laden and asked why al-Qaeda was focusing its efforts only on Europe instead of Canada.
“Allah is great and may Allah bless Sheikh bin Laden. That the sword held by the hand of al-Qaeda hits not only Europe, but that is hits all our enemies. Wherever they are,” he wrote in a Sept. 25 posting.
“Me, I live in Canada and the Canadian government supports the Americans. The government of Canada supports Israel. Canadian soldiers are sent to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Now it's Canada's turn.”
A copy of the message, posted to a French-based Internet forum called Minbar-sos, was found by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist Web sites.
In his online biography, Altar writes that he is a Sunni Muslim who lives in Quebec and that: “I want to chase the non-Muslims from Canada. Only their deaths will make Islam triumphant. God is Great.”
The message concludes: “May Allah guide us to always defend our religion. That the Crusaders whether in Iraq or in Ottawa, the sword of Islam will fall on their head. God is Great.”
This kind of rhetoric has been appearing increasingly on the Internet, often the work of young radicals who join online forums that promote al-Qaeda.
“Don't forget, these al-Qaeda sites, normal people can't get onto them,” said terrorism expert Bruce Hoffman, a professor at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
“They're password protected; you have to be vouched for personally. So the access is controlled, so you have to take something like this somewhat seriously.”
The RCMP in Quebec could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Canadian counter-terrorism police have already investigated several similar cases involving online activities.
The RCMP arrested a Moroccan man in Trois-Rivires, Que., last September for allegedly posting messages on the Internet threatening terrorist attacks in Germany and Austria.
In January, the National Post revealed that the RCMP was investigating a Toronto university student who had repeatedly posted messages on the Internet supporting attacks on Canadian soil.
Another young Islamist identified by the Post in April had posted messages online referring to bin Laden as a “hero” and “champion of Islam,” urging people to support the Taliban and calling for the deaths of moderate Canadian Muslims.
Altar writes in French, but he is not further identified. He lists his occupation as “organizer.” In an earlier posting, circulated in June, he criticized Canada for double standards in Afghanistan.
“When a government gratuitously kills women and children … they call it an operation to maintain the peace' and when the men defend themselves … they call it terrorism. Real terrorism is the oppression of an entire state. Fighting in the path of Allah is not terrorism, it is a door to paradise.”
Prof. Hoffman said it was sometimes not difficult for authorities to identify those using the Internet to incite terrorism. But extremists continue doing it anyway.
“They still believe they are cleverer than the governments operating against them are. For them, it's the thrill and the rush of taking part in this. For some of them, the possibility of being harassed is a mark of distinction, it's something that is appealing.”