Canada spy agency busts suspected terror cell, sends three packing to U.S. border |

Canada spy agency busts suspected terror cell, sends three packing to U.S. border

TORONTO – Canadian agents this summer busted a suspected terrorist cell in Toronto that included an Algerian explosives expert they say was trained by al-Qaida, intelligence officials said Thursday.The cell was made up of four Algerian men who had applied for refugee status in Canada and were alleged members of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an Islamic group with ties to al-Qaida, which is banned in Canada and Algeria, the officials said.The group was dismantled by CSIS counterterrorism and Canada Border Services Agency agents, working with police, Barbara Campion, a spokeswoman for Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said Thursday.Campion said she could not reveal the men’s names, or details of their activities. But some details were divulged at a closed-door meeting in Toronto Monday with CSIS, law enforcement officials and representatives of the telecommunications, electricity and transportation industries.A National Post journalist was the only reporter allowed to attend the workshop and Campion confirmed his story in the Post in Thursday editions.Three of the men were deported this summer to U.S. border crossings, because they had entered Canada from the United States. The key figure left Canada voluntarily in March 2004 after he was confronted by investigators, said the National Post.”American authorities were aware of their arrival and they were dealt with appropriately upon their arrival,” Campion said. She said she didn’t know whether the men were being detained in the United States.A senior CSIS counterterrorism official, Larry Brooks, told the workshop the ringleader of the Toronto cell was a former al-Qaida training camp instructor who studied bomb making at bin Laden’s training camps in eastern Afghanistan, according to the Post.He reportedly entered Canada on Aug. 8, 1998, using a forged Saudi passport and made a refugee claim that was eventually turned down.Canada has skirted a major terrorist attack since the Air India bombings of 1985 but has been bracing for an attack on its soil since the Sept. 11 strike against America. Osama bin Laden has named Canada as one of five so-called Christian nations targeted for acts of terror, as a close ally of the United States and a pillar of Western society.David Harris, a former CSIS chief of strategic planning, believes there are more than 50 terrorist groups with a presence in Canada, because of Canada’s policy to encourage foreigners to come and work in the massive North American nation with only 33 million people.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism