Terrorists or Warriors, what is the difference?

Written by Harold McNeill on February 23rd, 2012. Posted in Editorials


Terrorists or Warriors, what is the difference?
Is it religion, ethnicity, or just a matter of definition?

In 2006, at the same time radicalized Six Nations members were occupying the Douglas Street Estates in Caledonia, another event was taking place less than 200 kilometers Northeast in the Greater Toronto area.  In the GTA, eighteen men, reported to be radicalized Islamists, were being kept under intense surveillance by the RCMP and CSIS.

Following arrest of the Islamists for allegedly planning a terrorist attack, the group became internationally known as the Toronto 18.  The arrests brought a deluge of accolades, particularly from the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and other US and world leaders.

Prior to this arrest, heated rhetoric emanating from the US, accused Canada of being ‘soft’ on terrorists and having a border filled with holes. Despite the fact we had suffered only one major terrorist attack in the past century, that being the Air India bombing, the US felt Canada needed to be doing more to combat terrorism as it was defined by the US following the attack on the World Trade Centre.  That Canada had not joined the war in Iraq remained another sore point in Canada/US relations.

Meanwhile in the parallel Caledonia case, law and order began to fall apart when heavily armed and masked Six Nations ‘Warriors’ invaded and secured the Douglas Street Estates, a nearly completed housing development on the outskirts town. When the police did nothing to restore law and order on Estate property, the owners obtained a court order directing the OPP to dislodge the Six Nations Warriors.

After making one poorly planned and executed assault, the police, heavily outgunned and out-numbered, were easily repelled by the Warriors. It was a humiliating defeat for the OPP and one from which they would not recover. Following the raid, the Court orders to remove the warriors from the Estate properties were quietly left to rot on the OPP Commissioner’s desk.

The Toronto 18 Terrorist Group

Back in Toronto, as bits of information were released by CSIS and the RCMP about the arrest of the Toronto 18 “terrorists’, the 18 men became widely known in Canada and around the world for the ineptitude of their Tim Horton’s planning sessions and the haphazard manner by which they went about recruiting members, several of whom were wide-eyed teenagers seduced by the glory of joining the jihadist cause. In the eyes of many, the whole episode reeked of political opportunism and police entrapment designed to show that Canada was a player in the fight against terrorism.

In one news report the Crown’s key witness, Mubin Shiakh (pictured right) recruited as an “agent provocateur” who infiltrated the group, made it clear the whole episode, while dangerous and could have resulted in death, was far from being a well planned terrorist event. The following is taken from the news report:

Having infiltrated what became known as the Toronto 18, he (Mubin Shiakh) doesn’t believe they (the Toronto 18) were capable of pulling off their ambitious plan to storm Parliament, set off bombs and behead our prime minister. But he believes that whatever course they settled on, it would have meant the destruction of human life.

Transcripts and stories about the setup of a radical training camp, in Washago, include a lot of trips to Tim Horton’s. The wannabe terrorists had a thing for French Vanilla coffee and hot chocolate.

“If you want to deal with terrorism,” Shaikh grins, “set up a Tim Horton’s.”

Before testifying, he asked for more money. But he says it was never conditional to his testimony. The idea he intentionally set these people up for profit seems laughable. Maybe I’m just not a risk taker, but of all the get-rich-quick schemes, pissing off terrorists seems a notch below throwing yourself in front of a bus for the insurance. They may have been goofballs, prompted by jihadist propaganda, but goofballs attempting to acquire bombs.

In another account, McLean’s Magazine spoke about a second informant, Shaher Elsohemy (pictured right), who was paid millions of dollars for his testimony. While McLen’s, as expected, took a hard nosed view toward the terrorists and their capabilities, the introductory paragraphs provide a bit of insight into the motivations of the informants:

When his testimony wraps up in the coming days, the man once known as Shaher Elsohemy will step off the stand and disappear back into the arms of the witness protection program. For obvious reasons, nothing about his new life can be revealed. Not his fake name. Not his whereabouts. Nothing. But one thing is absolutely certain: when he does leave the witness box and return to location unknown, he can walk away a happy man—vindicated, finally, after all these years.

Until last week, when he showed his face for the first time since 2006, Elsohemy was famous for two things: helping the RCMP topple the so-called “Toronto 18,” and being paid millions of dollars in the process. For more than three years, the Mounties’ star informant had to stay hidden in the shadows while countless fellow Muslims attacked his credibility. They called him a traitor. A rat. A money-hungry liar who deserves to “suffer in this life and the next.”

Let us accept that at least some of the Toronto 18 might be defined as bonafide terrorists and, left to their own devices, may have mounted some kind of serious attack. However, at the time of arrest, the eighteen had not yet harmed a hair on anyone’s head and had not damaged any property. In a normal investigation, they would most certainly have been charged with Conspiring to Commit an Indictable Offence with various sub-offences being listed in the indictment.

However, this was not the outcome as these men were Muslims and that fact alone lead to their being defined as “terrorists” as opposed to “criminals’. The result, they were charged under Canada’s new Terrorism Act, an Act that changed many of the rules of evidence, created much greater secrecy and provided more severe penalties.

One has only to scan the charges to see just how vague they had become as opposed equivalent charges in the Criminal Code. Following is the disposition of 11 of the 18 cases:

Zakaria Amara
Guilty plea, October 2009, Appeal dismissed 2010
Participating in a terrorist group, intending to cause an explosion for the benefit of a terrorist group
Life in prison

Saad Khalid
Guilty plea, May 2009
Participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion
20 years in prison

Fahim Ahmad
Guilty plea, October 2010
Importing firearms, participating in a terrorist group and instructing others to carry out activities for that group
16 years in prison

Saad Gaya
Participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion
Guilty plea, September 2009, Appeal allowed 2010
12 to 18 years in prison

Steven Chand
Participating in a terrorist group
Convicted, June 2010
10 years in prison

Ali Dirie
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, September 2009
7 years in prison

Amin Durrani
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, January 2010
7½ years in prison

Jahmaal James
Participating in a terrorist group
Guilty plea, February 2010
7 years in prison

Asad Ansari
Participating in a terrorist group
Convicted, June 2010
6½ years in prison

Nishanthan Yogakrishnan
(previously tried as a youth, publication ban lifted on his name in September 2009)
Participating in and contributing to a terrorist group
Convicted, September 2008
2½ years in prison

Shareef Abdelhaleem
Participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion
Decision not yet handed down

Charges Stayed in the Following Cases

Ibrahim Aboud
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Ahmad Mustafa Ghany
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Abdul Qayyum Jamal
Planning to cause a deadly explosion (dropped in November 2007), participating in the activities of a terrorist group and receiving training from a terrorist group.
Charges stayed, April 2008

Yasim Mohamed
Participating in a terrorist group, training for terrorist purposes
Charges stayed, April 2008

Youth 2
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, February 2007

Youth 3
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, July 2007

Youth 4
Participating in a terrorist group, receiving training to be part of a terrorist group
Charges stayed, July 2007

Media outlets were severaly restricted as to what they could publish about the case in that they could only report on evidence given in court.  Even the preliminary hearing was cut short after Mubin Shiakh had given evidence.  The case had then been sent to trial by direct endictment. Between guilty plea’s and charges that were stayed the full story was never made public.

The Caledonia Terrorists

In Caledonia the Six Nations Warriors had completed planning that went well beyond that completed by the Toronto 18. They had stockpiled numerous weapons and sufficient ammunition to start a small war, invaded a small community that was part of Caledonia, dug trenches across main highways, built barricades, burned bridges, torched a Hydro Station, burned cars, fired shots and assaulted people, as a short list of their activities. They dressed in camouflage gear, wore masks to shield their identity, flew “their” nation’s flag, tore down and burned Canadian Flags. They confronted police and residents at every opportunity. For a visual of some of these events go to the Photo Gallery at the end of the Caledonia Post. 

Only one charge was ever laid against any of the Warriors and that charge, Assault Causing Bodily Harm, was finally disposed of last year with the conviction of a man who was 18 at the time of the offence (22 at the time of conviction). He was sentenced to 18 months, so with time served he had spent less than a year in jail.

How could it be that one group of Canadian Citizens were left to walk free while the another group of Canadian Citizens are now serving sentences that range up to life in prison for planning (rather poor planning) of an event that never came close to that actually being carried. Had those involved in Caledonia been Muslims, the outcome would have been very, very different. There would now be dozens of First Nations Muslims serving life in prison for “terrorist’ acts.

We should all be concerned about differential law enforcement in Canada. Why should Muslim Canadians be treated differently just because they are Muslims, of which a few (very few) are radicalized Islamists. On the other hand, why should Canadians, just because they are radicalized First Nations and feel their cause is just, be allowed to disregard the law with impunity.

Caledonia is no different from hundreds of other communities across Canada that depend upon the Government, Police and Courts to uphold the law in a fair and equitable manner.  When all three levels abdicate that responsibilty and anarchy is allowed to rein as it was (and is) in Caledonia, respect for our institutions of law and order is greatly diminished.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC

Food for Thought:

Over the history of our country, a variety of immigrant groups have been subjected to various forms of discrimination. The Chinese, Japanese, German’s, Italians, Irish, Scottish and the list goes on depending on the decade and the particular status of the group in the dominant society, have each shouldered their fair share.

Since 911 Muslims, East Indians and others have shouldered the greatest burden of discrimination.  For a variety of reasons, Native Indians have been marginalized and discriminated against from the very beginning.

Discrimination should be reason for great concern as it diminishes our society in every way. That being said, I do not think discrimination alone is sufficient reason to become a radicalized Native, Islamist or any other particular group.  To import hatred into a country that has accepted a person on good faith, is simply wrong.

 

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Comments

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.