Friday, June 23, 2006

Root causes redux

It's official: terrorism is not a motiveless evil that erupts without warning or reason.

In a story that hasn't exactly shrieked down the greased rails of the blogosphere, James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen reports:

Staying out of the war in Iraq and the absence of a "colonialist" history have reduced the threat of terrorism in Canada, the country's spy service says.

Internal Canadian Security Intelligence Service reports point out extremist Islamic groups and "homegrown terrorists" are still a danger, but apparently it isn't all gloom and doom.

"Some factors have mitigated this threat: the lack of colonialist history, our non-participation in the Iraq conflict, a generally moderate foreign foreign policy and our relative success in accommodating new immigrants to Canada," the document says.

The briefing letter--marked "secret" but obtained under the Access to Information Act--was prepared by CSIS director Jim Judd for new Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day in February.

The article goes on to state:

This isn't the first time CSIS has waded into the controversial debate over Iraq and its ultimate contribution to the fight against terrorism. Documents obtained last summer first revealed--and Mr. Judd subsequently confirmed--that the service believes the conflict is, in fact, creating more terrorists.

But all is not quiet on the Western front:

While Canada may benefit from avoiding Iraq, CSIS has also argued the country's activities in Afghanistan have made it a "high profile" extremist target.

Mr. Judd was somewhat less detailed more recently, giving the impression that the reduced threat was the result of better cooperation with other agencies:

CSIS, the RCMP, other police forces, the Department of National Defence and other national security agencies are working together effectively in contrast to some other countries that have seen turf battles, he said. "My impression is we are doing a better job than other jurisdictions in working together."

But his bottom line was the same:

In his first appearance before a parliamentary committee since the arrest of 17 terrorist suspects in Southern Ontario three weeks ago, the soft-spoken Mr. Judd delivered a calm, reassuring message, saying Canadians generally need to be more aware of the risks of a major terrorist attack, but "I do not recommend that they toss and turn at night."

Mr. Judd said it's possible Canada will be spared major terrorist attacks like those that have hit other Western countries in recent years....

[I]t's unlikely that the underlying causes of global terrorism are going to disappear quickly, Mr. Judd added.

Will Mr. Judd and his agency be denounced by right-wing caricatures like David Warren as "terrorist stooges" and "bed-wetters of the left?" We await with anticipation. In the meantime, for that hardy band who continue to insist that terrorism is an effect with observable geopolitical causes, not a satanic plot against all that Christians hold dear--what a friend we have in CSIS. We'll take our strange bedfellows where we can find them, thanks: it's legal, at least until the Fall.

Sleep tight.

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