Iranian Qaeda connection rears its dubious head —in Canada

Following last month's murky claims about al-Qaeda biggie Sulaiman Abu Ghaith having been sheltered by Iran, Canadian authorities now want us to believe that two guys busted by the RCMP—Chiheb Esseghaier in Montreal and Raed Jaser in Toronto—were plotting to blow up a Via Rail passenger train under the  "direction and guidance" of al-Qaeda agents in …Iran. At their hearings April 23, the men denied the charges. Iran's  foreign ministry said groups such as al-Qaeda have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields." (National Post, Canadian Press, April 23) This is rather obvious given the bitter sectarian war on Iran's borders with Iraq and Pakistan. Yet the RCMP portrays a "state-sponsored" terror plot.

The sectarian war has also shown signs of spilling into Iran itself, via the restive region of Baluchistan, which straddles the border with Pakistan. Sunni separatist militants have sporadically made trouble for Tehran in this region, while their kindred on the Pakistani side have been waging a grisly jihad against the Shi'ite Hazara. In the latest attack, the same day as court hearings in Canada, a car bomb aimed at a Hazara politician missed him but killed four others in Quetta, capital of Pakistani Baluchistan. The intended target was seemingly Abdul Khaliq Hazara, head of the Hazara Democratic Party, said police officer Fiyaz Sumbal. The politician was not harmed, but 26 were wounded on top of the four slain—two paramilitary troops and two passers-by. (AP)

  1. Ottawa shootings: life imitates ‘art’?

    Police in Canada have released a surveillance video showing how lone gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed into Canada's parliament on Oct. 22 after shooting dead a soldier at Ottawa's war memorial. Zehaf-Bibeau got off a few shots in the parliament building before he was himself shot dead. He was apparently not on a list of known "high-risk travellers," but had links to "extremist elements," and had recently applied for a passport and intended to travel to Syria. The RCMP described Zehaf-Bibeau as a Canadian-born petty criminal with possible dual citizenship in Libya, where his father was from. He was not said to be linked to Martin Rouleau, the Muslim convert who a day earlier killed a Canadian soldier in Quebec in a hit-and-run car attack. But we think Zehaf-Bibeau may have been influenced more by spy thrillers than the global jihad. The video online at BBC News, as well as the descriptions in the Ottawa Citizen, are more than a little evocative this scene from the last James Bond movie

  2. Harper vows to fast-track police state measures

    Stephen Harper is vowing a speedy passage of legislation that would boost the powers of Canada’s spy agency and police forces after a gunman’s attack in Ottawa. "Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, detention and arrest," the Prime Minister told the House of Commons. "They need to be much strengthened. I assure members that work which is already under way will be expedited." (Globe & Mail, Oct. 23)

    File under "What a surprise."