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Canadian intelligence seeks support of Muslim leaders

By Ajit Jain in Toronto
August 27, 2008 09:34 IST
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A grieving member of Air India victims' family told the regional director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, "You were responsible for the death of my father."

Andy Ellis reportedly told leaders of the local Muslim community that this encounter took place while he was attending a memorial service last year for 329 people killed in the Air India bombing in June 1985.

"I came back to my staff and said I never, never want to go to the consecration of another memorial for victims of terrorism," Ellis said.

He said the report of Judge John Major about the Air India tragedy is likely to be released soon, but no judge reportedly needs to tell him CSIS failed.

The Muslim leaders were invited for the round table as Canada's spy agency is reportedly frightened of potential terrorist attacks on Canadians and now are seeking the help of Muslim leaders.

"I want you to help... Us doing it alone is like one hand clapping," Ellis told the group on August 16 in Toronto.

Not many Muslims were interested in attending this round table and in fact some e-mails were reportedly circulated advising Muslim leaders to stay away from the meeting.

Ellis admitted that attendance was small, which was unfortunate for him. He conceded that prior to the meeting, certain opinion makers in the Muslim community had circulated e-mails suggesting it was best to give the meeting a pass, since no high level political officials from Ottawa were there.

It happened as "the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, CSIS and other agencies have lost credibility," one of about 20 Muslims who came for the meeting reportedly stood up to tell Ellis.

His reference was to 18 young Muslims who were arrested two years back for allegedly conspiring to commit terrorist acts within the country, targeting important buildings and some political leaders. Charges against many of them have been dropped.

"We don't target the Muslim community; we are trying to work with you," Ellis said. He reportedly stressed that CSIS and RCMP lawfully zero in on the tiny percentage of Muslims who are drawn towards violent extremism, and urged Muslim leaders to get past 'urban legend' and read up on what judges are actually finding.

"Our security is threatened by jihadists," author and broadcaster Tarek Fatah said.

CSIS and other law enforcement agencies are worried as many Muslim terrorists in Canada are homegrown, without any connection with Al Qaeda or Taliban.

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Ajit Jain in Toronto

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