By B. Raman
Under an operation code-named “Project Samosa”, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced on August 26,2010, the arrests of three alleged jihadi extremists— all of them socially well-placed professionals. One of them is a doctor, the second is an x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital and the third had studied electrical engineering.
The police claimed that their arrests had thwarted possible terrorist attacks around Ottawa and against Canadian troops in Afghanistan. From the details given by the RCMP, it was evident that the arrested persons, who were under surveillance for about a year, were discussing and planning a conspiracy to indulge in terrorist attacks and had acquired some materials towards this objective, but were far away from being in a position to carry out these attacks. There was no apprehension of imminent terrorist attacks, but the evidence of the conspiracy in progress was strong enough to warrant the arrests before the conspiracy neared fruition.
Amongst the material recovered during the investigation were more than 50 circuit boards police believe were intended to remotely trigger detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and videos, drawings, instruction books and electronic components for IEDs. According to Canadian media reports, the conspiracy was initially detected by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), which then alerted the RCMP.
Mr.Raymond Boisvert, an Assistant Director in the CSIS, told a press conference: “There are certain individuals in Canada who have adopted an ideology inspired by international terrorist groups who promote heinous violence to achieve their goals. This case reiterates the serious nature of this threat, which can result in tragic consequences if left unchecked.” The police did not say whether the group had any links to Al-Qaeda, but the available details indicated a link to the Af-Pak region.
Two of the suspects — Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa, were arrested on August 25. The third, 28-year-old Khurram Syed Sher, was arrested in London, Ontario, the next day. All the three are Canadian citizens. Three non-Canadians, not located in Canada, were also allegedly part of the conspiracy — James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta, but they have not been arrested so far. The three arrested Canadians are to be charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code, including conspiring with the three non-Canadians mentioned above and other “persons unknown,” who have been at one time or another located in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan, to facilitate “terrorist activity” between February 2008 and August 24.
Hiva Alizadeh, who studied electrical engineering, faces a separate charge of making or having an explosive substance in his possession with the intent to endanger life or cause serious damage. According to the police, he is a member of a group with links to the conflict in Afghanistan, and had received training in building and detonating IEDs. Mr.Boisvert said in his briefing that the CSIS is still enquiring to find out whether the three arrested Canadians were self-motivated, made-through-the-internet jihadis or whether they had been subject to external motivation.
Sher is a doctor who graduated from the McGill University medical school in 2005. According to the police, he had visited Pakistan in 2006 to participate in quake relief work. He had also participated in a TV reality show on a Canadian TV channel. In 2007, he and some other doctors had written to Mr.Stockwell Day, Minister for Public Safety, protesting against the treatment meted out to three Muslims arrested on security grounds.
Misbahuddin Ahmed, the x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital, has been described by some media reports as of Indian origin who had grown up in Canada. It is not known to which part of India he belonged and when he migrated to Canada. According to the newspaper the “Ottawa Citizen”, he had taken several weeks off from work about 16 months ago. He didn’t say where he was going.When he returned to work, he was sporting a full beard. The “Citizen” has reported that Misbahuddin Ahmed and Sher used to play in an Islamic charity hockey tournament in Montreal that raised money for an organisation called the RS Foundation, which claimed to be engaged in humanitarian work in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.
The RS Foundation, which actively raised funds in Canada for quake relief in Pakistan in 2005 and is presently collecting funds for flood relief in Pakistan, was founded by one Shujaat Wasty who is also an active member of an organisation called the South Asian Research Center (CERAS) and the United Muslims Students’ Association (UMSA).
Wikipedia says as follows: “The Muslim Students’ Association, or Muslim Student Union, of the U.S. and Canada, also known as MSA National, is a religious organization dedicated to establishing and maintaining Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States. It serves to provide coordination and support for affiliated MSA chapters in colleges across North America. Established in 1963, the organization now has chapters in colleges across the continent, and is the precursor of the Islamic Society of North America and several other Islamic organizations…..The first MSA National chapter was formed in 1963 at the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) by international students. The initial leadership came from Arabic-speaking members, with the Muslim Brotherhood help to establish the group. A Saudi Arabian charity, the Muslim World League, provided early funding for the group. Early goals for the movement included the promotion of “a self-definition [that] involves initially and fundamentally [an] Islamic identity” of its members, as well as an appropriate Islamic lifestyle while they were in the US…..Today, the organization is present in various forms on several campuses across the United States and Canada. In contrast to early membership, members are now frequently American-born Muslims…..”
It adds: “Journalist Deborah Scroggins, in exploring how suspected al-Qaeda member Aafia Siddiqui became an Islamist extremist, wrote for Vogue that if Siddiqui “was drawn into terrorism, it may have been through the contacts and friendships she made in the early 1990s working for MIT’s Muslim Students Association. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest and biggest Islamist movement, established the first MSAs in the country… and the movement’s ideology continued to influence the MSA long after that. At MIT, several of the MSA’s most active members had fallen under the spell of Abdullah Azzam, a Muslim Brother who was Osama bin Laden’s mentor…. [Azzam] had established the Al Kifah Refugee Center to function as its worldwide recruiting post, propaganda office, and fund-raising center for the mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan… It would become the nucleus of the al-Qaeda organization.”Rutgers MSA co-founder Ramzi Yousef, a cousin of Siddiqui’s second husband, was convicted for helping perpetrate the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.Anwar al-Awlaki, accused of being an al-Qaeda member and who declared jihad against America in 2010, was President of the MSA at Colorado State University, from which he graduated in 1994. Ali Asad Chandia, who was president of the MSA at Montgomery College from 1998 to 1999, was convicted of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, and assisting the Virginia Jihad Network, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The University of California Irvine Muslim Student Union is an affiliated chapter of MSA National, which was suspended for the 2010-2011 school year for organizing a conspiracy to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking at a university sponsored event.” ( My comment: al-Awlaki is now with Al Qaeda in Yemen)
Some sources allege that Wasty was known for his anti-Jewish views and used to describe the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US as a Jewish conspiracy.