From the news-stand (Canada)

Former assassin for the LTTE arrested in Toronto

Ontario government to help professional immigrants

Alleged assassin let out of jail

B.C. orders audit of group tagged as Tamil Tiger front

Tamil rally cancelled over threatening call

Axworthy to stanch terror funds flow - National Post

Canadian cash flow confirmed as Tigers kill 21 - National Post

Sri Lanka's civil war and the Canadian connection - National Post

U.S. Sri Lankans protest fundraising in Canada - National Post

Canadian funds back terrorism: CSIS chief - National Post (Editorial)

Tiger tales - National Post (Editorial)

Martin fumes over terror charges - National Post

Tamil terror allies use Toronto schools for fundraisers - National Post

05/18 Tamil street gangs expanding illegal activities, report says - National Post

05/18 Tamil gangs on rise: RCMP - National Post

05/06 Martin to dine with terrorist 'front' - National Post
See SLUNA's reaction
Sri Lanka Protests - National Post
Martin's Comments in Windsor - Windsor Star
Dance with tigers - Editorial, National Post
Regrets Only - Editorial, Ottawa Citizen

05/01 US State Department identifies two Canadian Tamil organizations as fronts for terrorism - National Post

03/28 Low-rent hotel is home for migrants waiting to leave - National Post

03/28 Man freed after murder conviction thrown out - National Post

03/25 Profits from forgery used to fund Tamil Tigers - National Post

03/24 Sri Lankan ring supplied fake Canadian passports - National Post

03/21 Tamil Tigers raising funds from families in Canada - National Post

03/18 Politicians seeking ethnic votes are soft on terrorism: report - National Post

03/09 Canadian financed terror bombs, Sri Lankans say - National Post

01/16 The Maple Laugh of world terrorism

Canadian News from SPUR

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Friday, June 09, 2000

Axworthy to stanch terror funds flow
Government on the defensive in wake of Tigers' deadly bomb

Stewart Bell and Justine Hunter
National Post

The government moved swiftly yesterday to repair the political damage caused by Wednesday's deadly suicide bombing in Sri Lanka, announcing that it would amend the Criminal Code if necessary to stop terrorist fundraising in Canada.

Following the blast in Colombo, which killed a cabinet minister, his wife and 21 bystanders, Canada's Foreign Minister, Lloyd Axworthy, told the House of Commons that he had "no tolerance" for groups raising money here for violence and would ensure that such practices were criminalized.

He said Ottawa had helped draft, and has signed, a United Nations agreement outlawing terrorist fundraising, and added: "There may have to be amendments in order to provide for the requirements of that legislation, and that's what the government is working on now."

His comments followed a statement by Lawrence MacAulay, the Solicitor-General, denouncing Wednesday's assassination of C.V. Gooneratne, the Sri Lankan Industry Minister, by a member of the Black Tigers, the Tamil Tigers suicide squad.

"The government of Canada and the people of Canada deplore yesterday's act of terrorism, which claimed 21 lives in Sri Lanka," Mr. MacAulay told the House. "The government strongly condemns terrorism and any group that uses violence to forward their goals."

Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, did not respond to questions about his participation in a May 6 dinner hosted by a group that has been widely identified as a fundraising front for the Tigers. Mr. Martin earlier accused critics of being "anti-Canadian."

The Canadian Alliance yesterday questioned the government's commitment to fighting terrorism, saying that despite its condemnations, active fundraising was continuing by groups such as the Tamil Tigers. The Alliance cited a report in the National Post saying Canada's ambassador to Sri Lanka had admitted fundraising was taking place.

"CSIS, the RCMP, the U.S. State Department, our own diplomats all say that the fundraising continues apace and has reached a huge amount of dollars every year that is sent from here to help fund terrorist organizations there," said Chuck Strahl, the Canadian Alliance MP.

Jim Abbot, the Alliance solicitor-general critic, said although Canada had signed the U.N. agreement outlawing terrorist financing, the practice continues. "In spite of the piece of paper that the minister was talking about, these organizations continue to collect money. They tell us it's over $20-million a year," he said.

A man with explosives strapped to his body approached Mr. Gooneratne at a War Heroes Day parade in a suburb of the capital city Colombo and set off the bomb while he was hugging the minister. Two more people died yesterday, including the minister's wife. Another 60 were recovering from injuries.

The bombing appears to be the work of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, which has killed hundreds of politicians and civilians with suicide bombs. The terrorist group has been fighting for 17 years for independence for Sri Lanka's ethnic Tamil minority.

The attack was widely condemned by world leaders, including Kofi Annan, the U.N. Secretary-General, who said he was "profoundly shocked." Amnesty International also condemned the bombing and urged the LTTE to stop killing innocent civilians.

The United States said the "LTTE's legacy of bombing assassinations, massacres and torture has alienated the people of Sri Lanka and the international community, and has done nothing to promote the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Sri lankan Tamils."

Following the attack, the Sri Lankan parliament extended for another month a countrywide state of emergency, which gives police and government forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects.

Another 12 people were killed in skirmishes yesterday. The LTTE also assassinated a prominent member of a moderate Tamil political party and killed a 33-year-old man who had refused to join the rebel force, the government said.

Police said the bomber used 1.5 kilograms of plastic explosives. According to intelligence sources, the LTTE bought a huge cache of explosives from Ukraine in 1994, which was paid for using the bank account of a Canadian. The explosives are still in use, the sources said.

CSIS and the RCMP say the Tamil Tigers have an extensive fundraising network in Canada that raises money through rallies, crime and front organizations to finance the purchase of weapons. Tigers supporters are planning a rally at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre this weekend.

Mr. Axworthy signed the UN agreement, which aims to cut off funds for terrorist groups, in February. But department officials said yesterday they are still reviewing existing laws to determine how Canada would abide by the UN convention and would not even say if draft legislation is in the works.

"We intend to ratify this as soon as possible," a foreign affairs department official said. He declined to say whether legislation would be introduced this year.

Canada is one of 16 countries to endorse the International Convention on the Suppression of Financing of Terrorism, but it must be ratified by 22 countries to come into effect.

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Thursday, June 08, 2000

Canadian cash flow confirmed as Tigers kill 21
Terrorist suicide bomber: Money collected in Canada may pay for Tamil weapons

Stewart Bell
National Post, with files from The Associated Press

Gemunu Amarasinghe, The Associated Press
Soldiers search the area of a bomb blast in Colombo, Sri Lanka, yesterday. A suspected Tamil rebel suicide bomber set off explosives killing at least 21 people, including a cabinet minister.

A suicide bomber suspected by police of being a member of the Tamil Tigers killed a cabinet minister and 20 bystanders in Sri Lanka yesterday in an attack that coincided with confirmation from Ottawa's senior diplomat in Colombo that the terrorist group is raising funds in Canada.

The attack, which injured 60 people on the country's first-ever War Heroes Day, came just a day after Ruth Archibald, Canada's High Commissioner, admitted at a national conference that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were active in Canada.

She said: "Probably none of the monies collected by the LTTE in Canada ended up in Sri Lanka, but may be going towards the purchase of arms in other countries. We need the co-operation of other countries to look into this."

Ms. Archibald said that while the United States bans terrorist groups such as the Tigers, "it is difficult to do so" in Canada because the Charter of Rights protects freedom of association. The Sri Lankan government also said in a statement yesterday there was ample evidence the Tigers were using Canada as a fundraising base.

Canada is coming under increasing pressure to curb terrorist support activities. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP have warned that the LTTE has established extensive fundraising networks in Canada that are being used to collect money to finance weapons purchases.

The National Post has documented recently how Tamil Tiger supporters in Canada raise funds through migrant smuggling, passport fraud, organized crime, front organizations and rallies at Toronto-area public schools featuring men in camouflage uniforms carrying mock assault rifles.

They are also planning civil war celebrations this weekend at the city's Molson Amphitheatre.

A recent report by a terrorism expert estimated that the Tigers collected more than $22-million in Canada last year. The money is being funnelled to bank accounts in Europe and Asia and used to supply arms to the rebels, the report said.

Last week, the Liberals were questioned repeatedly in the House of Commons by the Canadian Alliance over why two cabinet ministers, Paul Martin and Maria Minna, attended a dinner hosted by a group that has been widely identified as a fundraising front for the Tigers.

The federal government signed a United Nations agreement in February against terrorist fundraising, but has yet to table a law that would outlaw the practice.

The Tamil Tigers have not claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but suicide bombings have been their trademark tactic. Such bombings have been used to destabilize Sri Lanka, located off the southern tip of India, and to assassinate politicians such as former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in 17 years of fighting between Sri Lankan government security forces and the Tigers, who want independence for the nation's ethnic Tamil minority. Canada considers the Tigers to be terrorists because of their brutal methods.

During a parade yesterday to collect donations for Sri Lankan government troops, a man believed to be a member of the Black Tigers suicide squad detonated explosives strapped to his body after embracing C.V. Gooneratne, 65, the Industry Minister.

Four men were arrested.

A government statement said the motive for the bombing was to mar "a day that was specially meant to pay tribute to the war heroes battling to maintain the ... territorial integrity of the nation." War Heroes Day was declared to boost the morale of the 40,000 troops fighting the rebels in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Before the bombing, traffic in the capital had stopped as people observed two minutes of silence. Chandrika Kumaratunga, the President, said in a televised speech: "This is the most sacred moment for the nation."

Jehan Perera of the Peace Council, an independent think-tank, said the bombing was probably the Tigers' response to the holiday. He said Mr. Gooneratne was "a soft target and a shocking choice" for assassination. He was not involved in the military end of the government. But he used to go about quite freely.

After the bombing, mobs attacked homes belonging to Tamils, a government official said.

"They would be so angry and upset they would want to retaliate at anyone," Mr. Perera said. "They cannot capture the Tiger. So they say these Tamil people are the nearest thing to a Tiger."

The government imposed a curfew on the bombed neighbourhood and two adjacent suburbs and barred journalists from the area.

The army's rapid deployment force surrounded a low-cost housing area in the neighbourhood and searched for suspects, a member of the force said.

An Information Department statement appealed to the public "to stay calm at a sensitive time such as this when emotions are running high." It added that steps had been taken "to protect all communities from any backlash."

A survivor said the assassin had hopped out of a taxi and greeted the minister at an intersection before detonating the bomb.

G.A. Yohan, another survivor who had an injured arm and was having trouble hearing, said: "I was walking beside the minister's entourage when the explosion took place. All I remember is falling on the ground."

The assassin's severed head and limbs were scattered around a traffic island.

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Saturday, June 03, 2000

U.S. Sri Lankans protest fundraising in Canada
Demonstrators call for a clampdown on expatriate Tamils

Steven Edwards
National Post

UNITED NATIONS - New York police set up barricades outside Canada's United Nations mission yesterday to allow American Sri Lankans to protest against alleged fundraising in Canada for Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers, one of the world's most ruthless terrorist organizations.

Up to 150 demonstrators spent half a day waving placards calling for Canada to clamp down on expatriate Tamils suspected of sending money to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a rebel group that has waged a 17-year war to create a separate homeland centred on Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula.

"Stop fundraising now -- if not, Toronto will be the next separate state," said one banner in reference to the 155,000 Tamils who have sought refuge in and around the city, constituting the world's largest expatriate Tamil population.

"Are you aware Toronto is a little Jaffna?" said another.

In a letter addressed to Robert Fowler, Canada's Ambassador to the UN, the protesters said: "It is difficult for us to comprehend how the government of Canada hopes to convince the world that it is committed to international peace, considering the current laxity with which terrorist groups are treated there."

The letter also alluded to a recent dinner organized by a Toronto-based Tamil group alleged to be a front for the rebels, and attended by Paul Martin, the Minister of Finance, and Maria Minna, Minister for International Cooperation.

"Politicians who openly support these organizations need to be reproved," the letter said.

Mr. Fowler was at a meeting of the world body's Security Council in the morning; in the afternoon, he prepared to leave for an upstate "retreat" with the other 14 members of the Security Council and Kofi Annan, the UN's Secretary-General to talk about UN peacekeeping.

The Security Council retreat -- the second one in as many years -- comes at a crucial time for the UN, which has struggled in Sierra Leone because of too few troops, and must now gear up for the deployment of a 5,500-strong force to the Congo, and double its contingent in Lebanon.

"We're right in the middle of important missions," said John Ruggie, Mr. Annan's special advisor.

The retreat -- at the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., will give the council a chance to discuss details of peacekeeping policy that fail to get addressed in daily deliberations, Mr. Ruggie added.

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Friday, June 02, 2000

Canadian funds back terrorism: CSIS chief
'If you tolerate these activities you can run into problems'

Stewart Bell, with a file from Andrew MacIntosh
National Post

Fred Chartrand, The Canadian Press
Ward Elcock, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said his agency is concentrating on terrorist fundraising.

Canada's most senior intelligence officer is warning that the country faces serious problems unless it cracks down on terrorist groups and their supporters who are openly organizing and raising funds here to finance political violence abroad.

Ward Elcock, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said terrorist organizations such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are exploiting Canada's wealth to finance bloodshed around the world. "If you tolerate these activities, you can run into problems," he said.

The intelligence director is concerned that terrorist groups prey on immigrant communities and resort to organized crime to get money, and he fears the failure to curb them may anger foreign governments and prompt them to take matters into their own hands.

"The reality is that, for governments in various places in the world, if they think that you're allowing terrorist activities to go on, they will do what they believe is necessary to deal with it, and we have no interest in that happening here.

"People think that the LTTE is or isn't a terrorist organization because they happen to like the goals or believe more in the goals, for any number of reasons.

"They can get themselves convinced that we should tolerate those activities and it's hard to explain to people that we don't make that distinction ... If you're engaging in advancing your political aims by violence, it doesn't matter what your cause is, it's the actions that are unacceptable," he said in a recent wide-ranging interview with the National Post.

In the House of Commons yesterday, the Liberals faced yet more questions about why two cabinet ministers, Paul Martin and Maria Minna, attended a $60-a-plate dinner last month for an organization that has been branded a front for the Tamil Tigers.

Lawrence MacAulay, the Solicitor-General, who oversees CSIS, said there is a "difference between legitimate gatherings and active support of terrorism. This country supports legitimate gatherings and that is exactly what has taken place."

But Monte Solberg, a Canadian Alliance MP, said a report published by CSIS called the organizers of the dinner, the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, "one of the more active fronts for the Sri Lankan group, the Tamil Tigers," which assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian prime minister.

"FACT is a fundraising organization for the Tamil Tigers, that's well-established," Mr. Solberg said.

"Yet even though our own security agency has made that very clear, the Finance Minister and other ministers go to these sorts of events and put money into that organization."

Herb Gray, the Deputy Prime Minister, said the CSIS report was published by the intelligence agency, but not endorsed by it.

Asked by Ted White, another Alliance MP, if Mr. Martin had been instructed not to attend any further FACT events, Mr. Gray responded that it was a "foolish question."

In addition to the CSIS report, reports by the U.S. State Department and a renowned expert at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel have also identified FACT as a front for the Tigers, and, based on CSIS intelligence, the Immigration Department is currently trying to deport the group's former co-ordinator, alleging he was sent to Toronto to raise money for weapons.

The National Post has documented how Tamil Tigers supporters are raising funds in Canada through migrant smuggling, passport fraud, organized crime, front organizations and rallies at Toronto-area public schools featuring men in camouflage uniforms carrying mock assault rifles. They are also planning civil war celebrations this month at three venues, including the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto.

Mr. Elcock said fundraising was "one of the things that we spend a fair amount of resources trying to identify, how they're doing it, a rough idea -- and it's only a rough idea in some cases -- of how much they actually succeed in collecting and where it's going and what it's being used for."

Terrorist fundraising "is continuing. It's long been a concern and will probably continue to be a concern for a long period of time," he said. "We're a well-off country and people come here and seek that money and contribute to causes at home for any number of reasons ... Fundraising is just simply part of what organizations that happen to be seeking to advance their objectives by violence are using."

He would not reveal the intelligence agency's estimates of how much money was being collected by various groups, but said the amounts were not important because terrorists can cause significant damage with only a few hundred dollars' worth of explosives or firearms.

Mr. Elcock warned that any groups that seek to advance their goals through violence -- no matter how just they consider their cause -- will find themselves targeted by CSIS agents.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Tiger tales

National Post

Why did Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, attend a dinner this month hosted by a Sri Lankan group that is documented as a front for terrorists? Mr. Martin -- with fellow cabinet minister Maria Minna and Liberal backbenchers Roy Cullen, Bryon Wilfert and Jim Karygiannis -- dined at a "gala" Toronto ball for the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, FACT for short, an organization that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the U.S. State Department and Israel's Institute for Counter-Terrorism all say is a front for the Tamil Tigers. So again: Why did Mr. Martin attend FACT's meeting?

It's a legitimate question. But when Ted White, a Canadian Alliance MP, asked it in Parliament's question period yesterday, Mr. Martin avoided answering and implied that Mr. White was intolerant just for asking. "Anybody who attacks a group of Canadians, whether they are Tamils or anything else, who gather at a cultural event and basically try to link them with terrorists, that is not the the Canadian way," he huffed to reporters. Questioning a fellow MP's patriotism is a strange tactic.

Perhaps, when Mr. Martin agreed to attend the dinner, he was unaware of FACT's terrorist links. That would have been a fair excuse, but Mr. Martin did not use it and instead sprang to FACT's defence. It is an odd thing to do, given the mounting evidence of alarming activity here in Canada by the Tamil Tigers' supporters. The National Post published an astonishing photograph yesterday in which Tiger supporters, dressed in camouflage uniforms and carrying mock rifles, were shown raising funds in a Toronto school building. Does Mr. Martin regard this as an acceptable cultural activity too?

It took the Air India bombing for Canada to wake up to the fact that Sikh militants had established an active base of operations in Canada; and just last December, Ahmed Ressam, a suspected Algerian terrorist, was caught smuggling a trunkload of explosives from Canada into the U.S. Will it take a similar incident for Mr. Martin to take the Tamil Tigers seriously? Last year alone they raised an estimated $22-million here. And according to Canada's Federal Court, people who raise funds for terrorists "bear the same guilt and responsibility as those who carry out terrorist acts." Politicians, particularly those who desire to lead their party, naturally seek to broaden the base of their electoral support. But it they should draw the line before they venture for voters into the CSIS's blacklist.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Martin fumes over terror charges
Hosts of dinner he attended linked to Tamil Tigers

Stewart Bell and Andrew McIntosh
National Post

Mr. Ted White Faced with continuing accusations that he showed poor judgment by speaking at an event hosted by a group branded a front for Tamil terrorism, Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, lashed out at critics in the House of Commons yesterday, calling them "anti-Canadian."

During Question Period, the opposition challenged Mr. Martin for attending a dinner for the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils. Ted White, a Canadian Alliance MP, said FACT has been identified in reports as "one of the most active and vital fundraising bodies for the Tamil Tigers."

Mr. White referred to a photograph in yesterday's National Post showing Tamil Tigers supporters dressed in camouflage and carrying replica assault rifles rallying at a Toronto-area public school, and asked if that was "the sort of things Canadians should celebrate?"

Mr. Martin insisted the dinner was a cultural celebration, and that "to condemn these people, to call them terrorists, is anti-Canadian. There is Irish blood coursing through my veins, but that doesn't mean I am member of the IRA."

Outside the House, Mr. Martin continued to chastize the Alliance, saying that "anybody who attacks a group of Canadians, whether they are Tamils or anything else, who gather at a cultural event and basically try to link them with terrorists, that is not the Canadian way. Canadians judge you for what you are.

"There were business people, workers of all kind [at the dinner] and they'd simply gathered for the Tamil New Year. And to try to to say that those people are, by the fact that there is a civil war going on Sri Lanka, to say that those people are terrorists, that's just not the Canadian way."

Mr. White said it was telling that Mr. Martin did not address the central issue -- that reports published by both the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and U.S. State Department identify FACT as a front for the Tamil Tigers terrorist group.

"I can only come to one conclusion from that evidence, and that is that he realizes and his staff realizes they made a mistake, but they don't know quite what to do about it, other than bluster. So that's what he's doing and, of course, trying to turn it into a racism issue," Mr. White said.

Meanwhile, a new report by a leading academic authority includes FACT on a list of "front, cover and sympathetic organizations" operating within Canada. The report estimates that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) raised more than $22-million in Canada last year to finance their campaign of political violence in Sri Lanka.

According to the study, donations totalling $12-million, as well as $10-million in other revenues, were collected in Canada to fuel the Sri Lankan civil war in 1999. The money was raised through a combination of fundraising drives and profits skimmed from businesses.

The money was transferred from at least 40 "feeder" bank accounts in Canada to 20 rebel accounts in Europe and Asia and used primarily for the purchase of weapons and technology with dual military and civilian uses, the March/April 2000 report says.

The study says it was not possible to estimate the value of Canadian organized-crime profits funnelled to the Tigers.

The figures appear in Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Organisation and Operations in Canada, a study by Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, a research associate at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence in Scotland and the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel.

"In Canada, the LTTE imposes a minimum tax of $300 per annum per working adult Tamil," wrote Dr. Gunaratna, author of Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict and National Security. "Even those who are on social benefit are expected to pay $300 ... Those who have established businesses, from grocery shops to computer stores, will pay $3,000 per year."

The Tigers have been labelled a terrorist group for their ruthless tactics, which include political assassination and suicide bombings that target civilians.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Tamil terror allies use Toronto schools for fundraisers
Police: 'To use a school for that type of cause is a little bit immoral'

Stewart Bell and Marina Jimenez
National Post

Wearing camouflage and carrying replica assault rifles, supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rally at a public school in the Toronto area recently. Behind them is a map of "Tamil Eelam," the ethnic Tamil homeland the rebels want carved out of Sri Lanka. A Liberal member of Parliament spoke at this function, according to law enforcement sources.

Canadian public schools are being used by supporters of the Tamil Tigers, one of the world's most ruthless terrorist organizations, for fundraising drives and militaristic after-school rallies featuring men in camouflage uniforms carrying mock assault rifles.

Donations are collected and Tamil Tigers paraphernalia and propaganda are sold at the monthly events, held at schools in the Toronto area. Law enforcement officials claim that the money goes to Tamil community organizations, which send it to the terrorist group to finance the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Liberal MPs have also turned up at the fundraising events -- in one case on a school stage where men in military uniforms carried replica assault rifles, according to law enforcement officials. The "soldiers" stood in front of a large map showing the areas under Tiger control.

"To carry replica guns in a school and sell rebel flags, propaganda and videos is not appropriate," said one law enforcement official.

Added another official, "It's not good to have a display of armed conflict in schools. To use a school for that type of cause is a little bit immoral."

The rallies are "magnets for violence" because they attract ethnic Tamil gangs, which the RCMP has said are heavily involved in financing the Tamil Tigers. "We know that a lot of them are gang members that are involved in these things," a law enforcement official said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been declared a terrorist group because of its use of political assassination, child soldiers, suicide bombs directed at civilians and ethnic cleansing during its 17-year fight for a separate state in Sri Lanka. Thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils have sought refuge in Canada, which now has the world's largest expatriate Tamil population, about 155,000.

While many Canadian Tamils are opposed to the violent methods of the Tigers, some continue to support them from abroad, sending money to the rebels and using their freedom in Canada to rally support, spread propaganda, lobby politicians and intimidate critics.

Officials estimated there had been at least a dozen Tiger fundraising rallies in the Greater Toronto Area in the past year. Organizers approach local boards of education and ask to use the schools for "Tamil cultural events."

"What they do is they say it's a cultural event and the board of education goes along with it," said a law enforcement source.

The organizers often charge a $10 admission fee and sell videos and books, as well as T-shirts and flags emblazoned with the Tamil Tiger logo -- a roaring tiger in front of two crossed guns surrounded by a ring of bullets.

The events begin with a march in which uniformed men carrying mock rifles parade on stage. This is followed by a video showing war casualties, a speech by a local MP and then a keynote speaker, police say.

One law enforcement official described the sequence as: "Get them sympathetic, work them up and get them to make a donation."

Police have been monitoring the events and approached school boards with photos showing the use of military garb.

"We just take the photo to the board of education and say, 'What do you think of this?'" said a law enforcement official. But the schools lack the resources to monitor every event.

A spokeswoman for the Toronto District School Board said there had been reports of Tamil Tigers flags being flown at some after-hours functions. "We have had rumours to that effect but we never had anyone with sufficient proof that we could dismiss that group," said Stephanie Bolton.

She said there had been no complaints about the use of replica weapons but emphasized they are banned under the safe schools initiative and any group found using them would not be permitted to rent board property again.The school board lends its buildings to community groups for a nominal fee, provided they satisfy a list of conditions, including having off-duty police present.

Changes to board policy on the use of school property are to be voted on tomorrow and should address some of the concerns, she said. The board will also be doing more spot checks to make sure the schools are being used for appropriate purposes, she said.

This is the second time this month that Liberal politicians have been accused of associating with Tamil Tigers supporters. Federal cabinet ministers Paul Martin and Maria Minna attended a dinner in early May for the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), which has been branded a terrorist front for the Tigers.

Yesterday in the House of Commons, Mr. Martin, the Minister of Finance, faced accusations from the Canadian Alliance that he was consorting with terrorist supporters but responded that the FACT dinner was a cultural celebration and, at $60 a plate, it was "hardly a major fundraising event."

In another sign that terrorist support is occurring freely in Canada, Tamil groups, including the World Tamil Movement, which has also been named a terrorist front, have been advertising a series of "victory celebrations" in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to cheer on a wave of ethnic violence in northern Sri Lanka that has left hundreds of troops and civilians dead.

However, at least one of the events will not proceed.

Maureen Moloughney, executive director of the Bronson Centre in Ottawa, said despite Tamil-language advertisements saying there would be a celebration at the centre on June 4, no formal agreement was in place and the event would not go ahead.

The centre is operated by the Sisters of the Immaculata, and the event would not be compatible with the group's non-violent beliefs, she said.

The Ottawa event had been advertised as a "celebration" of Unceasing Waves, the name of a continuing series of Tamil Tiger attacks in northern Sri Lanka.

SLUNA COMMENT: This is what a SLUNA member found out after talking to Gail Nyberg, Chair of the Toronto Distric School Board, over the phone-According to her,none of the schools she is affiliated with had anything like the National Post had printed,staged anywhere. However she promised to look into this. She had apparently already got in touch with the local Police and is looking around for info regarding the venue. She wanted any one to call her if we could give her more info for her to proceed with her part in securing a safer environment in her schools. She seemed fully aware of the situation. She said that until and unless we keep her and the other Principals and Boards of Educaiton informed as to the location and dates, she is powerless because no one has brought this particular event for her info.
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Thursday, May 18, 2000

Tamil street gangs expanding illegal activities, report says

Stewart Bell
National Post

Ethnic Tamil street gangs and crime syndicates in Ontario and Quebec are involved in an expanding range of illegal activity, from home invasions and drugs to migrant smuggling and arms trafficking, according to an RCMP intelligence report.

The police brief, which compares the emergence of Tamil crime to the early days of Asian gangs, says an estimated 155,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and "as these communities have grown, Tamil criminal elements have also taken root."

Much of the crime involves street gangs, whose members are believed to have had military training. There has also been an escalation to more sophisticated crime such as casino and bank fraud, says the report by the RCMP Criminal Intelligence Directorate.

"Tamil criminal groups are involved in a variety of criminal activities including extortion, home invasion, thefts, sales of contraband cigarettes, the importation and trafficking of brown heroin, trafficking of other drugs, arms trafficking, fraud, production and sale of counterfeit passports, illegal migrant smuggling and attempted murders, bank and casino frauds and money laundering."

The report, dated February, 2000, was released yesterday by Canadian Alliance party researchers, who obtained a copy under the Access to Information Act.

It follows an RCMP study last year that found organized crime was being used to raise money for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Sri Lankan terrorist group that has killed hundreds of civilians and politicians during its 17-year quest for an ethnic state in Sri Lanka.

The more recent briefing report says there have been "more than 40" Tamil gang shootings in Toronto in the past two years and five unsolved homicides. Fearful of the gangs, many Tamils refuse to testify in court or complain to police, it says.

"The gangs have been involved in increasing violence in both the [Greater Toronto Area] and Montreal, including murders and fire bombings, with a noted escalation in the use of weapons."

A central focus of Tamil organized crime is immigration fraud, the report says, noting that Tamil criminals have an "international reputation" for producing false documents and migrant smuggling.

To pay back the smugglers, migrants "may be extorted, subject to home invasions, forced into gang activity, used to import heroin or otherwise exploited. The smugglers sell their services to anyone regardless of ethnic group," it says.

Tens of thousands of Sri Lankans fled to Canada in the past two decades due to an ongoing insurgency by the LTTE guerrillas. Recent reports published by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the U.S. State Department say the rebels are supported by a global network of front organizations, which includes the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils and the World Tamil Movement in Toronto.

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Thursday, May 18, 2000

Tamil gangs on rise: RCMP
Blamed for 40 shootings

Stewart Bell
National Post

Ethnic Tamil street gangs and crime syndicates in Ontario and Quebec are involved in an expanding range of illegal activity, from home invasions and drugs to migrant smuggling and arms trafficking, according to an RCMP intelligence report.

The police brief says an estimated 155,000 Sri Lankan Tamils live in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and "as these communities have grown, Tamil criminal elements have also taken root."

Much of the crime involves street gangs, whose members are believed to have had military training. There has also been an escalation to more sophisticated crime such as casino and bank fraud, says the report by the RCMP Criminal Intelligence Directorate.

"Tamil criminal groups are involved in ... extortion, home invasion, thefts, sales of contraband cigarettes, the importation and trafficking of brown heroin, trafficking of other drugs, arms trafficking, fraud, production and sale of counterfeit passports, illegal migrant smuggling and attempted murders, bank and casino frauds and money laundering, " says the report, dated February, 2000. It was released yesterday by the Canadian Alliance party, which obtained a copy under the Access to Information Act.

The report says there have been more than 40 Tamil gang shootings in Toronto in the past two years and five unsolved homicides.

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Saturday, May 06, 2000

Martin to dine with terrorist 'front'
Two ministers to attend Tamil event organized by alleged fundraiser for rebels

Stewart Bell
National Post

TORONTO - Two Liberal cabinet ministers, including Paul Martin, are representing the Canadian government at a dinner tonight for an organization described earlier this week by the U.S. State Department as a "front" for terrorism.

Mr. Martin, the Finance Minister, and Maria Minna, the Minister of International Co-operation, are expected to deliver a greeting on behalf of Ottawa at a $60-a-plate dinner organized by the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT), which the U.S. has called a front for the Tamil Tigers, a separatist rebel group that kills civilians and politicians in its quest for an ethnic state in Sri Lanka.

The appearance of the ministers, believed to be a first, comes as Canadian immigration officials are trying to deport the former FACT co-ordinator in Toronto, Manickavasagam Suresh, alleging he was sent to Canada by the terrorist group's leadership to raise money for the ongoing civil war.

Canadian law enforcement officials who have been working to counter the infiltration of the Tamil Tigers into Canada were shocked that the politicians would agree to appear at the dinner.

"I thought we didn't support terrorist causes," said one official.

A staff member in Mr. Martin's office confirmed that the finance minister would be attending the dinner, a celebration of the Sri Lankan new year, at a Toronto hotel, along with Ms. Minna, and that they would be "bringing greetings on behalf of the federal government."

Asked if Mr. Martin had any qualms about attending an event hosted by an alleged terrorist front, the official said that other MPs as well as provincial and local politicians would also attend.

"The minister has no reservations in celebrating the Tamil new year and the contribution of the Canadian Tamil community," he said. "With respect to FACT, my understanding is that it is an umbrella organization comprised of a wide variety of groups, mostly cultural and community-based, so the point that I would emphasize is that this is a cultural celebration -- Tamil new year, not unlike Chinese new year."

According to the RCMP and Canadian intelligence, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are funded in part by supporters in Canada who collect money through fundraising drives, front businesses and organized crime, including extortion, drug smuggling and immigration and passport fraud.

Canada is currently drafting legislation that would outlaw terrorist fundraising and is attempting to deport known Tigers financiers. In January, a Federal Court of Canada judge hearing the Suresh case ruled that "those who freely choose to raise funds to sustain terrorist organizations bear the same guilt and responsibility as those who actually carry out terrorist acts."

The Sri Lankan government is engaged in a fierce battle over the South Asian island's northern Jaffna peninsula, considered the Tamil cultural heartland.

The rebels are steadily advancing and the state security forces have been seeking international assistance to keep the territory from falling under Tiger control.

Ananda Goonasekera, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Ottawa, said he was "surprised and saddened" that Canadian government representatives would attend a FACT event, saying it "might send the wrong message.

"Perhaps they are ignorant of the facts, I don't know," Mr. Goonasekera said. "The only thing I can think is they have not been briefed properly."

One man who called the FACT office to inquire about the event told the National Post he was told the purpose of the event was "fundraising for our people's freedom."

But the FACT spokesman said the dinner was not a fundraising event and that the fee was simply to cover the cost of the meal and venue. He said the group had complained to the state department about being named once again as a front organization on the 1999 American list of terrorist groups, released on Monday.

"The LTTE's overt organizations support Tamil separatism by lobbying foreign governments and the United Nations," the report said. "The group also uses its international contacts to procure weapons, communications, and bombmaking equipment."

The report also named the World Tamil Movement as an LTTE-front organization.

Raymond Chan, the Secretary of State for the Asia-Pacific, said recently that FACT members had joined the Liberal party and approached him for assistance at the party convention in Ottawa. He subsequently flew a FACT representative to Ottawa to discuss Canada's role in brokering peace in Sri Lanka.

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Monday, May 01, 2000

US State Department identifies two Canadian Tamil organizations as fronts for terrorism

Stewart Bell
National Post, with files from The New York Times

An alleged Algerian extremist cell accused of working in Canada to organ ize a bomb attack against the United States was made up of "Afghan alumni" trained by mujahedeen fighters, according to a report to be released today that also identifies two Canadian Tamil organizations as fronts for terrorism.

In its latest annual report on global terrorism, the U.S. State Departme nt concludes that the world's primary terrorist threats are no longer polit ically motivated groups or states that sponsor terrorism but "loose network s" driven by religion and ideology and financed by crime.

"Such a network supported a failed attempt to smuggle explosive material and detonating devices into Seattle in December," the report notes, referr ing to the arrest of Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian living in Montreal, and seve ral others connected to an alleged millennium bombing attempt.

The U.S. does not criticize Canada in the report. Instead, it says the t wo countries "co-operated closely" on the bombing investigation and America n and Canadian authorities meet regularly and are "exploring new mechanisms for exchanging information."

The report does, however, name the World Tamil Movement (WTM), based in Toronto, and the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils (FACT) as kn own front organizations for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel group that has killed hundreds in its quest for an ethnic state in Sri Lan ka.

The Canadian government is currently trying to deport Manickavasagam Sur esh, the former WTM leader, alleging he was sent to Toronto by the Tamil Ti gers to raise funds to finance the civil war in Sri Lanka. But the group re mains active, as does FACT.

Raymond Chan, the secretary of state (Asia-Pacific), told the National P ost recently that several FACT members had joined the Liberal party and had approached him at the party convention this year to ask what Ottawa would do to assist with the political situation in Sri Lanka.

The following week Mr. Chan invited the FACT leader and a dozen other me mbers of Canada's Sri Lankan community to Ottawa to discuss Canada's potent ial role in peace negotiations. His officials refused to disclose who else was at the meeting.

The report accuses seven countries of sponsoring terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. But it says the hub of internati onal terrorism has shifted from the Middle East to South Asia, particularly Afghanistan and Pakistan, which it accuses of harbouring terrorist groups. Afghanistan is called a "major terrorism threat," partly because it shelte rs Osama bin Laden.

While the number of terrorist incidents jumped last year to 392 from 274 the year before, deaths and casualties dropped dramatically. The report sa ys 233 were killed and 706 wounded in attacks, down from 741 dead and 5,952 injured -- a difference that partially reflects the high toll of the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa.

The State Department also cites improvements in the Middle East, althoug h Iran and Syria are condemned in the report for supporting regional terror ist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which ar e trying to undermine the current peace effort.

Improvements were also noted in Cuba and Syria, which the report said ha d reduced their direct support for terrorism. North Korea might be removed from the list of states that sponsor terrorism due to an apparent thaw in r elations with South Korea and recent pronouncements condemning terrorism.

"The positive experiences of Spain, Turkey and Algeria this year all sug gest that tough counterterrorism measures, plus political dialogue with non -terrorist opposition forces, seems to be the model," Mr. Sheehan said.

The WTM and FACT have been named on the U.S. list of terrorist groups as "fronts" for the Tamil Tiger rebels for several years now. Last year's Sta te Department report said the Tigers have "a significant overseas support s tructure for fundraising, weapons procurement, and propaganda activities," which include lobbying foreign governments.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Low-rent hotel is home for migrants waiting to leave
Rooms are small and hot, but only $2 a day

Stewart Bell
National Post

Stewart Bell, National Post
Guests peer out of the Island Lodge in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Island Lodge, a low-rent hotel in this city's Pettah market district, advertises "quality rooms" on a faded sign outside. But the rooms are small, sweltering and attractive only because of their $2-a-day price.

Despite their condition, however, the 42 rooms are almost always occupied, filled by ethnic Tamil migrants who rent them for months at a time while awaiting passage to countries such as Canada. Another 16 people sleep on the floor in a large open room.

"They are all waiting," said Aruldas Joseph Chelliah, who works at the front desk and hopes to move to Canada one day himself, to join a brother who already lives in Montreal. "I like Canada," he said.

The route out of Sri Lanka passes unavoidably through Colombo, which has the country's only international airport, and, for this reason, many migrants end up living temporarily in one of the city's "lodges." Some tenants are waiting for relatives to sponsor them to move abroad, but authorities say the hotels are also havens for smuggling agents.

The narrow streets of Pettah are filled with agents who will arrange the illicit journey for a hefty fee. There are also photo shops that will supply the pictures needed for forged passports, as well as travel agencies that immigration officials suspect are fronts for smuggling rings.

Police arrested a suspected member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the rebel group fighting for an independent Tamil homeland, in Pettah last month for allegedly supplying forged passports, identity cards and marriage certificates to Tamils from Sri Lanka's north and east.

At Island Lodge, the largest in Pettah, many of the clients are women with young children. Their husbands have gone off to Europe and North America and are awaiting a decision on their refugee claims before summoning their families to join them. Others are elderly, and wait for their refugee children to sponsor them to Canada and other nations. There are also many young fighting-age men who have left their home to avoid being drawn into the civil war.

Police are wary of the lodges and raid them frequently, searching for members of the LTTE rebels, who have staged a series of political assassinations and suicide bombings in Colombo.

One squalid lodge is unmarked by any signage, an attempt to avoid detection by police. Inside, a 24-year-old education student describes how he left Jaffna, in northern Sri Lanka, three years ago and paid an agent to take him to Norway. But his refugee claim was denied and he returned to Colombo. He said he spent two months in a filthy jail cell on suspicion of being a member of the LTTE.

Like all Tamils visiting Colombo, he must carry a government identity paper that must be renewed every two weeks. "What are we to do," he says, sitting on a cot in the hotel room. "We can't go to Jaffna, we can't stay here in Colombo." He would like to go to Canada, but doesn't think he would be accepted as a refugee after his experience in Norway.

Island Lodge was shut down by police for 3 1/2 years, Mr. Chelliah said. "They didn't give any reason." The lodge reopened last year, and under Sri Lanka's emergency measures law it is not allowed to accept ethnic Tamil guests from out-of-town unless they possess a certificate that says they have been registered with the government. The stack of certificates sits at the front counter and the hotel staff say police visit regularly to check up on the hotel's revolving clientele.

V.S. Kandasamy has been living at the lodge for seven months. The civil war split up his family; one daughter lives in Germany, another in Switzerland and his remaining daughter and three sons live in Canada, where he plans to move. "His son is sending some money," said Mr. Chelliah at the front desk. Mr. Kandasamy holds up a photo of his grandchild, born in Ottawa.

Canada is the destination of choice for many hotel guests.

"Most of the people would like to go there," Mr. Chelliah says. "Why your country won't allow more people to come there?

"They should do something. They should help. These people, they are prepared to do any type of work and they want a peaceful life."

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Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Man freed after murder conviction thrown out

Chris Eby
National Post

TORONTO - A Sri Lankan refugee who spent nearly seven years in a maximum security prison walked out of court a free man yesterday after his murder conviction was overturned and charges against him were withdrawn.

Kulaveerasingam Karthiresu, 37, wept as Mr. Justice David Watt apologized, saying: "I cannot return to you the time you have spent in custody. What I can do is apologize on behalf of the administration of justice for your detention. You, sir, are free to go."

Outside the courthouse Mr. Karthiresu described his 6 1/2 years in Collins Bay Penitentiary, home to some of Canada's most violent criminals, as "hell."

"I didn't do this crime. Everybody [in prison] asked me why I was there, and I told them I was innocent. They laughed at me," Mr. Karthiresu said. "I'm going home now. I'm a free man."

Mr. Karthiresu, a Tamil who fled Sri Lanka, ravaged by civil war, for Canada in 1991, was convicted two years later of second-degree murder in the shotgun slaying of Sivapiragasam Namasivaya at a Toronto house party.

At his 1995 trial, the Crown alleged that Mr. Karthiresu flew into an alcohol fuelled rage when he was kicked in the head by Mr. Namasivaya during a scuffle.

Throughout the trial, Mr. Karthiresu and his lawyers maintained his innocence, claiming that the Crown's star witness, Jeyaseelan Thurasingham, was in fact the one responsible for the murder.

Ten Crown witnesses who testified against Mr. Karthiresu later recanted.

Mr. Karthiresu's lawyers appealed and last month Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry threw out the murder conviction.

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Friday, March 24, 2000

Profits from forgery used to fund Tamil Tigers
Sri Lankans lead trade: Police say they lack sufficient undercover officers

Stewart Bell and Marina Jimenez
National Post

Between 40 and 50 passport forgers are operating in Canada, producing high-quality fraudulent travel documents for the booming migrant smuggling industry, according to RCMP immigration sources.

They work in concert with an estimated half-dozen printers who use sophisticated silk-screening and off-set printing equipment to make copies of Canadian passports that are difficult to detect from the real thing.

Many of the forgery and smuggling rings are run by Sri Lankans who funnel the profits back to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the ruthless rebel group also known as the Tamil Tigers that has killed hundreds of civilians and politicians, police and intelligence sources say.

Investigators with the RCMP's Immigration and Passport unit complain they have caught various middlemen in the forgery business but have failed to capture the leaders, partly because their undercover operations have been shut down by a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling.

In the Shirose-Campbell case, the court ruled that Canadian police do not have carte blanche to break the law in pursuit of lawbreakers. The federal government has already set out exceptions for officers working on drug investigations but the Immigration Act contains no such provisions.

"We have been restricted in our ability to investigate forgers because we can no longer buy passports ourselves," says an investigator in the RCMP's Immigration and Passport section.

Police also say they lack sufficient undercover officers to deal with the ethnic groups who specialize in forged documents.

Considered the masters of the trade, Sri Lankan forgers produced their first counterfeit passports, or "books," about 15 years ago, using silk screens and engravings.

Since then, they have become increasingly sophisticated, developing as many as 40 subsequent versions, each series an improvement on the last. At one stage, there were up to 24 Sri Lankan forgers operating in Ontario and Quebec, according to the RCMP.

Santhakumar Kumarasamy, considered the king forger until his death in Toronto's Don Jail in 1992, ran a counterfeit enterprise in the late 1980s and trained up to 20 members of the current generation of forgers.

Police say the deals are made in Toronto while the "books" are produced in Montreal. "We believe there are only two sources manufacturing false books but a lot of different people use them and Toronto is the smuggling hub," said an RCMP officer with the Immigration and Passport section.

Counterfeit documents are sent from Montreal to Toronto in a minivan -- referred to by police as the "magic bus." The forgers have traditionally used a handful of grocery stores in Toronto as distribution and deal-making centres.

Five years ago, undercover officers purchased two passports for $3,400 from Sooriyakumaran Nallanathan, the owner of Kumeran's, a store that used to be located in Toronto's west end. He pleaded guilty and received a one-year conditional jail term. Recently, Sri Lankans have branched out and begun making "books" for other visible minorities: Jamaicans, Guyanese and Pakistanis.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam sanctions the work of the Sri Lankan smuggling agents because they contribute directly to the rebel group's $50-million "national defence fund" and helps create a global network upon which the Tigers can draw when they need money to finance their war.

"The LTTE often provides the refugees with forged documentation and identification in order to get them into various Western countries," said a Canadian intelligence training report. "It is estimated that many Tamil refugees have paid up to US $10,000-$20,000 per person to be smuggled into Canada by LTTE members.

"This money is used by the LTTE in support of its terrorist activities."

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Friday, March 24, 2000

Sri Lankan ring supplied fake Canadian passports

Marina Jimenez, with files from Stewart Bell
National Post

A Canadian-Sri Lankan is in jail in Hong Kong and five more are wanted in connection with a human trafficking syndicate that has helped dozens of Sri Lankans come to Canada using counterfeit travel documents from a secret cache locked in bank safety deposit boxes.

The smuggling ring, which has ties to the Tamil Tigers, supplied Sri Lankans with forged Canadian citizenship cards and drivers' licences, and phony passports from Canada, Singapore and Malaysia, so they could bypass immigration controls and board flights to Canada.

The case represents an important victory against human smugglers, and illustrates the global nature of the industry and the ingenuity of Sri Lankan forgers, who some experts believe are the most proficient in the world.

"We stumbled into a major smuggling ring, and intelligence sources told us their destination was Canada," said Detective Senior Inspector Steve Berry of the Hong Kong police.

Police arrested 14 Sri Lankans and charged three, two of whom are Canadian citizens, including Thambirajah Uthayakumar. According to RCMP sources, Utha-yakumar is a Toronto-based smuggler who works for a major financier of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Sri Lankan rebel group known as the Tamil Tigers.

Sri Lankan smuggling operations are often run by Tiger activists and sympathizers in Canada and abroad who funnel the huge profits back to the insurgents in Sri Lanka.

During the eight-month Hong Kong operation, which ended in February, 1999, police found the smugglers' crude accoutrements in eight metal safety deposit boxes in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's Kowloon branch in Tsim Sha Tsui, an upscale shopping and commercial district.

Boxes #4981 and #3692 contained: plastic laminate; more than 100 passport-size photos; a Canadian External Affairs passport dry seal; bona fide and forged Canadian passports with the photos missing; and a crib sheet, advising Sri Lankans how to impersonate new Canadians. The 18-page, hand-written book of instructions was rife with spelling errors and malapropisms: Oh Canada. We Stand on God for Thee. Ontario Lake. The Block Party. Prime Minister Mr. John Charafiean.

Since the infiltration of the operation, the illegal movement of Sri Lankans through Shek Lap Kok, Hong Kong's airport, has virtually ground to a halt. Still, police and immigration officials consider the case only a partial success.

"We stopped a smuggling cell but the cells are all over. In Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and China," says Caryl Ayearst, an immigration control officer at Hong Kong's Canadian embassy who assisted with the case. "And this cell has probably just gone somewhere else."

People-trafficking has become the world's most lucrative illicit industry, with profits rivalling the drug trade -- and with far more lenient penalties. The number of migrants on the move around the world has doubled in the last 30 years, and now comprises an estimated 120 million.

Eager to exploit these people are terrorist groups, organized-crime figures, corrupt government officials and disreputable immigration consultants. Their currency? Fraudulent travel documents, old fishing trawlers, someone else's airline boarding pass -- anything that allows them to bypass immigration controls.

Global trafficking in undocumented migrants is estimated to generate $5-$7-billion (all figures U.S. dollars) a year. It's big business in Canada, too; smugglers charge anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 to bring people here by boat, plane or overland.

Sri Lankan people-traffickers have long specialized in passport forgery, but they are just one of many groups involved in the movement of human cargo.

This spring, intelligence sources anticipate as many as six migrant smuggling ships from China will arrive in British Columbia -- joining the 630 Chinese from Fujian province who washed up on B.C.'s shores last fall in rusted vessels and frigid container ships.

"They actually call it the 'other immigration system,'" said Brian Crocker, an immigration control officer at Canada's embassy in Bangkok, which is considered a world capital for forged documents. "If it works, it's a whole lot of hassle avoided. The only reason they do this stuff is to bypass the process."

Canada's generous immigration and refugee policies make it a popular destination for many illegal migrants in search of better economic opportunities and political stability. All they have to do is make it on to a flight to Toronto or Vancouver; once they arrive, they can claim refugee status and stay, at least until their claims are heard.

Elinor Caplan, the Immigration Minister, is expected to introduce a new immigration bill next Thursday that will attempt to address some of the problems with the system, and introduce stiffer penalties for alien smugglers.

A network of Canada Immigration officers posted at embassies around the world work with airlines to catch imposters, and keep one step ahead of their inventive attempts to fool the system.

"Recently, I've had six cases of elderly Sri Lankans in wheelchairs trying to board flights to Canada using imposter kits, false Canadian passports," said Ms. Ayearst. "When we take them off the flight, they get up out of their wheelchairs and walk away."

Last year, 40 Canadian teens of Asian descent came to Hong Kong and "lost" their passports. Ms. Ayearst investigated and discovered that the young Canadians had been enticed to accept "free trips" to Hong Kong -- trips that were actually organized by smuggling rings. The smugglers confiscated their passports upon arrival, and then passed them on to Chinese nationals who attempted to board flights with their new identification, and the Canadians' return tickets.

These scams reveal Hong Kong is an increasingly popular "transit" destination for Chinese, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis and others who stop there to pick up phony travel documents en route to Canada. Hong Kong is by no means the world's forgery leader; Bangkok still claims this distinction, boasting the largest counterfeit document market in the world, with up to 30 different kinds of forged "books" or passports available for purchase.

It is rare for authorities overseas to infiltrate as extensive an operation as the Canadian-Sri Lankan "safety deposit box" ring in Hong Kong. As a result of police infiltration, 30 Sri Lankans, who had paid $10,000 each to be brought to Canada, were left stranded in Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong in mainland China's Guangzhou province.

The case began with a tip in 1998 from a police informant that Sri Lankans were running an operation out of HSBC's Kowloon branch. On June 24, four Sri Lankan men paid the bank a visit. One was a known Canadian smuggler: Thambirajah Uthayakumar. Uthayakumar and three accomplices had recently arrived in Hong Kong, and checked into the Chungking Mansions, a notoriously flea-bitten, labyrinthine complex of guesthouses and tatty shops selling watches, textiles and electrical goods on Nathan Road.

The quartet strolled through the glass door of the HSBC bank, and requested the key to their safety deposit box. The bank manager left them waiting in the lobby, and discreetly rang police, who arrived within minutes to arrest the men. Only Uthayakumar failed to make bail; the others promptly fled the country, travelling to Singapore, China and Switzerland respectively, leaving most of their impressive stash behind.

Police found in the safety deposit boxes: 67 passport-sized photos of Sri Lankans; passports from Canada, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, some with the photos removed, blank Canadian Citizenship certificates, plastic laminate, and $19.90 in Canadian currency. In the quartet's filthy room in Chungking Mansions, police also recovered: 31 more head shots of Sri Lankans, a child's printing kit and three pieces of passport paper.

Uthayakumar, who has a wife and family in Toronto, was eventually convicted of possession of unlawfully obtained documents in the District Court of Hong Kong. He is serving a 39-month sentence in Ping Shek Prison on Lantau Island.

In November, 1998, Hong Kong police infiltrated more members of the syndicate. Malaysian police warned them that three blank biographical pages for Canadian passports were en route to Hong Kong in a Federal Express package, addressed to a Sri Lankan man. Police lay in wait outside a courier office and ambushed the man and his parcel.

An analysis of his phone records revealed the involvement of five more men, four of them Canadian citizens, including Kandiah Sangaralingam. They too had been staying at Chungking Mansions and another seedy block of hostels nearby, the Mirador Mansions.

Police discovered two more safety deposit boxes rented by these men in the same branch of HSBC, overflowing with forged documents. There were 50 passports from Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and India; Canadian social security cards and drivers' licences. "Sri Lankans can pass for Malaysians because they have a large population of Indians and Malays," said Det.-Insp. Berry.

Sangaralingam was convicted of possession of unlawfully obtained documents and sentenced to one year in prison, while the other men were released due to lack of evidence. Canada Immigration checked into the background of the Canadians and discovered one was a known alien smuggler back home, criss-crossing the globe under an alias. Another had reported his passport "lost" in Hong Kong five times, suggesting he may have been "leasing" it to others.

It was a setback for the smuggling ring, but business still trickled in. In January, 1999, police conducted a raid on a "workshop" being run out of Chungking Mansions. They found thread, similar to the kind used to stitch together a Canadian passport, a magnifying glass, laminate, different kinds of ink and pens, cutting material -- and the ubiquitous passport-size photos of Sri Lankans. They did not lay any charges in the end, because it was impossible to prove these items were the paraphernalia of a smuggler.

On Feb. 23, 1999, police discovered yet another series of safety deposit boxes, rented out to Sri Lankans at the familiar HSBC branch. Inside one was a forged Canadian landed immigrant document -- enough evidence to convict Verrasingam Thilakendiran, a Sri Lankan, to three months in prison.

While some of the counterfeits in the collection were sophisticated, others were notable for their lack of refinement. One batch of forgeries contained the same spelling errors as those found in a raid of a Sri Lankan smuggling operation in the 1990s in Montreal, suggesting that smugglers are recycling their documents.

Hong Kong police talked to one of the Canadians in jail about becoming a police informant -- but he turned down the offer, saying the money was better in his chosen profession.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2000

Tamil Tigers raising funds from families in Canada
Cash for weapons

Adrian Humphreys
National Post

The Tamil Tigers are asking Tamil families living in Canada to each contribute $1,000 (US) to support their battle with government troops for control of a highway in Sri Lanka, according to a report prepared for Canada's spy agency.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, described as one of the world's most dangerous guerrilla/terrorist groups, are "petitioning" the overseas Tamil population for support in their costly military campaign over the northern portion of Highway A9, the country's main arterial road, the report says.

The direct appeal to Tamils in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia is allegedly part of an international fundraising effort that helps the Tigers acquire most of their weaponry and ammunition.

As much as 90% of the money used in the war comes from abroad, says the report on the Tigers, published by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and prepared by Peter Chalk, an Australian professor who works for the Washington, D.C.-based RAND Corporation.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting against the mainly Sinhalese military for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east since 1983. Nearly 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The Tigers are considered by the U.S. State Department to be a terrorist organization.

Highway A9 is strategically located. It splits in half, from north to south, the island that lies off the southern tip of India. The area around has been the site of numerous battles in recent months.

Control of the road would give the government a link between the northern Jaffna peninsula, the former Tamil stronghold taken by the army in 1996, and the rest of the island, as well as split the rebel forces in half with one zone on each side of the highway.

Canada forms an important link in the campaign, the report says. There are about 200,000 Tamil refugees here, the largest Tamil population outside of Sri Lanka.

The fundraising also aids the Tigers' cause by financing the lengthy legal battle to stop Canada from deporting Manickavasagam Suresh, a man identified in court as a leader of the Tigers.

Tamil supporters have "hired two highly paid lawyers to provide legal counsel under the overall coordination of a prominent New York-based attorney, Viswanathan Ruthirakumaran -- the de facto head of LTTE operations in the U.S.," the report says.

The legal battle was "one of the most keenly contested in Canadian legal history as far as reviews of security certificates were concerned," which is "no mean feat for a jungle-based insurgent force located on the other side of the world," the report says.

Barbara Jackman, a Toronto lawyer working on the case, said she is surprised by the reference to her and Mr. Suresh in the CSIS publication. "The fact that a community decides to assist in the support of someone's legal defense I don't think is a concern for CSIS," she said.

"The implications of this is that there is something wrong with defending someone; something wrong with Mr. Suresh trying to resist what he believes is a wrongful characterization of his activities and that of his community. I find it perverse, obnoxious and dangerous."

Ms. Jackman said Mr. Ruthirakumaran, the New York attorney referred to in the report, did assist in the legal efforts because of his depth of knowledge on the issues being debated, but she denied he co-ordinated the defence.

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Saturday, March 18, 2000

Politicians seeking ethnic votes are soft on terrorism: report
Tamil tigers singled out: Canadian activity has proved 'vital to terrorist campaign'

Adrian Humphreys
National Post

Western liberal politicians, who feel the ethnic vote makes the difference in elections, are too tolerant of extremists in their constituencies, allowing groups such as the Tamil Tigers to fund wars in their homeland, says a new report prepared for Canada's spy agency.

While most of the documented cases of weapons sales and violent attacks have largely been confined to Asia, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and Africa, intensive publicity and fundraising activity in Canada and elsewhere allow the terrorist attacks and war of secession to continue, the report says.

The West has been particularly tolerant of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam "in spite of its ruthlessness," an analysis of the Tigers organization, published yesterday by Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says.

"Because the Tamils have been able to run effective propaganda campaigns, which have successfully mobilized significant sectors of the overseas Tamil diaspora in their favour, politicians have become increasingly reluctant to support tougher actions against the LTTE for fear that this would impinge on their local electoral support base."

That hesitancy has allowed the Tigers to establish offices and support groups in Canada that "have proved vital to the Tigers' ongoing terrorist and guerrilla campaign in Sri Lanka," writes Peter Chalk, author of the report.

The analysis is not endorsed by CSIS but is part of a series of discussion papers published by the spy agency.

Mr. Chalk is a professor at Queensland University in Australia and works for the RAND Corporation, a private Washington, D.C.,-based public policy institute.

The Tamil Tigers have been fighting against the mainly Sinhalese military for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east since 1983. Nearly 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Canada has about 200,000 Tamil refugees, the largest Tamil population outside of Sri Lanka. Most live in Toronto.

The report calls the Tigers "one of the most proficient and dangerous guerrilla/terrorist groups in the world," and says the group is highly organized and supervised by the supreme leader, Velupillia Prabhakaran.

Mr. Prabhakaran supervises six divisions, including: an amphibious unit, called the Sea Tigers; an airborne unit, called the Air Tigers; an elite fighting wing, known as the Charles Anthony Regiment; and a suicide commando squad, widely regarded as the deadliest suicide squad in existence, called the Black Tigers, the report says.

Other units handle intelligence and politics.

The global operations of the Tigers include publicity and propaganda, fundraising, arms deals and weapons shipping. It is an expansive effort, thought to maintain offices in at least 54 countries, including Canada.

Tamil propaganda is largely carried out here by the Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, the report says.

The Tigers often campaign under the slogan "Peace," a move that has drawn several non-governmental organizations to their cause, including the Canadian Relief Organization for Peace in Sri Lanka, the World Council of Churches, the International Federation of Journalists, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Centre for Human Rights, the report says.

The campaign was damaged recently when the U.S. State Department added the Tigers to its list of international terrorist organizations.

"By permitting the LTTE to open offices and establish representation, Western countries have unwittingly blessed the group's political and military agenda," the report says.

"By appeasing groups such as the LTTE, Western states are helping to undermine not only the viability of their own borders, but also the integrity of the global system that they claim to represent."
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Thursday, March 09, 2000

Canadian financed terror bombs, Sri Lankans say
Tamil Tigers used TNT to kill dozens in 1996 attack

Stewart Bell
National Post

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - The explosives used by ethnic Tamil insurgents to wage a brutal bombing campaign that has killed and injured hundreds of civilians have been traced to an offshore bank account held by a Canadian, Sri Lankan intelligence sources allege.

A Singapore bank account opened by a Canadian of Sri Lankan origin was used to pay for 60 tons of explosives -- 10 tons of RDX and 50 tons of TNT -- imported from the Ukraine by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, senior intelligence officials said.

The explosives were used in a 1996 daytime bomb attack at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in downtown Colombo that killed 86 civilians and injured 1,400, the officials said, and have also been deployed for a series of subsequent bombings.

"They are still using it," a senior Sri Lankan intelligence official told the National Post.

"Out of the 60 tons, they are estimated to have used only 30 tons."

The allegation is the latest evidence that Canada is being used as a support base for terrorist attacks on foreign soil and follows an alleged plot by Algerian extremists in Montreal to "punish America" by staging a bomb attack against the United States.

Sri Lankan forces are battling hardline ethnic Tamil nationalists who want to form a separate state called Tamil Eelam in the north and east of the island, off the southern tip of India.

In addition to fighting a ground war in the jungles, the LTTE has been assassinating politicians and bombing civilian targets in an attempt to destabilize the nation. Last week, a municipal politician was assassinated in Jaffna, a suicide bomber tried to kill a senior military officer in Trincomalee, and a grenade was thrown at a cabinet minister visiting a temple at Mihintale.

The attacks follow a series of bus bombings earlier this year and the attempted assassination in December of the president, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Norway is attempting to bring the government and rebels together for peace talks, but there has been little progress to date.

Plastic explosives are a preferred weapon of the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, and are used in everything from the vests worn by suicide bombers to the crude "Johny Special" land mines buried throughout the northern Jaffna Peninsula.

The Tigers acquired a large cache of explosives six years ago by posing as the Bangladesh Armed Forces and purchasing the chemicals from the Rubezone chemical plant in Ukraine.

The clandestine purchase was documented by Rohan Kumar Gunaratna, author of Sri Lanka's Ethnic Crisis and National Security, who called it the "largest consignment of explosives ever to be moved by a terrorist group."

The Sri Lankan government has passed the details of the alleged Canadian connection and the name of the holder of the bank account to law enforcement agencies in this country.

Canada has granted refugee status to thousands of Sri Lankans over the past two decades, most of them ethnic Tamils, who complain of mistreatment at the hands of the country's ethnic Singhalese majority. Some remain sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers and have provided financial support for the rebel force, partly through organizations described by the U.S. as fronts for the LTTE.

Canada is currently attempting to deport a former leader of the World Tamil Movement, a Sri Lankan who Canadian intelligence says was sent by the Tamil Tigers to run a fundraising network in Toronto.

The intelligence officials in Sri Lanka said there is a direct link between overseas fundraising drives by the LTTE and rebel attacks. "We found that the amounts collected match up to some of the military successes here," one official said.

The central bank bombing in Colombo was one of the most brutal acts in the 17-year history of the civil war. It took place during working hours, ostensibly to maximize the casualties. Among those killed were a Canadian and her two-year-old daughter, who were visiting family at the time.

Zainulabdeen Mohamad Rafeek was in his office at the American Express Bank when he heard the initial blasts. He thought it had to do with construction next door.

Then he heard three shots.

He ran into the bank foyer and saw people on the streets, crying and running. The blasts were mortars fired by Tamil insurgents trying to take out the central bank, just across the street. Mr. Rafeek had just finished shepherding his employees out of harm's way when an explosion knocked him off his feet.

"I was about to return to my desk when the bomb went off," he said. "Immediately when I heard this noise I recited part of the Koran," said Mr. Rafeek, a Muslim, "and I was just thrown out of the building."

The explosion sent fragments of glass into his eyeballs and, despite a series of operations, he is still blind. Further surgery was needed to replace his chin, which was blown off.

"The best thing is to forget about the past," he said. "It should come to an end," he said of the fighting, which has killed 60,000. "I don't want anyone else to suffer, to undergo what I have undergone."

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01/16 The Maple Laugh of world terrorism

Organized crime money leaving Canada to fund rebels, kidnappers,drug empires

Profits from drug trafficking, welfare scams, credit card fraud and other organized crime plaguing Canada are sustaining political insurgencies around the globe.

And Canada is ill-equipped to fight the scourge that annually costs the country's taxpayers millions of dollars, says John Thompson, director of the Toronto-based Mackenzie Institute, which specializes in researching organized violence and political instability.

Along with the demise of the Soviet Union went its sponsorship of various terrorist groups. The resulting cash crunch forced these groups into organized crime.

"That's the only source for money now. That's been the big change,'' says Thompson.

While agencies such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Transport Canada, the RCMP and other police forces are staffed by competent people, "all of them are under-funded, all of them are overworked and resources are tight almost all across the board,'' says Thompson.

"Generally, criminals and insurgents tend to be more responsive to new opportunities than the police forces are.''

Drug trafficking in Canada, conservatively estimated to be a $10-billion industry, also helps fund revolts in other countries.

South American guerrilla groups such as FARQ, which controls 40% of Colombia's territory and considers the rest of the country negotiable, "are pretty well all fuelled by cocaine,'' says Thompson.
Even without a rebel or terrorist group in Canada dealing narcotics, "just taking cocaine or heroin, generally means that the money is eventually going to go to an insurgent somewhere.''

While Colombian rebels themselves have little presence in Canada, they employ 14- and 15-year-old Latin American proxies or "mules'' to deliver and help distribute cocaine across the Great White North.
"They land in the country, they know all their legal rights and within two to three days they're handing off packages of powder. They came prepared.''
The Colombians use juveniles because of Canada's reputation for having lax immigration laws and being soft on criminals of tender years.

Kidnapping foreigners is another popular fund-raising tool among guerrillas and terrorists, who have grown more deadly in the last three decades.

"The regard for human life that some of the old classic terrorists in the '70s and '80s did have, they don't have.
"A European terrorist in the 1970s would put a bomb in an airline office normally at night, but the World Trade Centre bombing was an attempt to kill 30,000 people,'' says Thompson. "They're a lot more lethal than they used to be.''

The group most studied by the Mackenzie Institute is the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam of Sri Lanka, who have been fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the country's north and east since 1983

30,000 illegal Tamils?

Thompson, who estimates 30,000 of the 180,000 Tamils in Canada are here illegally, says endemic welfare fraud and forcing Sri Lankan women into prostitution are schemes used to raise money for the fight back home.

Thompson says the Tamils are superb identification forgers - so good that a Tamil used by RCMP as a translator to probe rebel activity avoided being revealed as a high-ranking Tiger.

"They had an idea that he'd been at one point the third man in command of the whole apparatus,'' says Thompson. "It wasn't that they didn't do a security check. They did. It was that he already knew how to beat that security check and had all the documentation and all the background lined up.

"These guys are probably the best of the lot. They are extremely sophisticated.''

Other frauds involve "systematic and organized'' Workers Compensation Board claim scams orchestrated by Somalis who came to Canada in the wake of the civil war that devastated their small African nation.
"And as far as can be told, the money is going back to Somalia. The clans still have their technicals (gunmen) and they still have ammunition,'' says Thompson.

"There's lousy co-ordination between the agencies, except on a particular task-oriented basis'' such as Asian organized crime and biker gangs.

One reason for this communication breakdown is historical.
"Canadians picked up from the British the habit of almost institutionalized secrecy in the civil service,'' Thompson says.
At the federal level, that means instead of raw information being sent directly to an interested agency, it must first pass through the Privy Council Office in Ottawa.

Canada does not have an agency like the CIA in the United States or Britain's Secret Intelligence Service to garner foreign intelligence abroad, but retains close formal intelligence links - forged during the Second World War - with the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

A senior official of the Privy Council Office, supported by the Security and Intelligence Secretariat, has a mandate from the prime minister to co-ordinate intelligence community activities.

The PCO also houses the Intelligence Assessment Secretariat, which co-ordinates political, economic, strategic and security intelligence for the prime minister, the cabinet and senior officials.
But if, for example, immigration officials want to talk with the RCMP, "it has to go up the ladder and back down, not straight across. And that's pretty well ... across the board,'' says Thompson.

Another factor behind Canada's lethargic systems of law enforcement and security intelligence is that "Canadians and, by extension, Canadian politicians, just don't take any (terror) problem seriously,'' says Thompson.
"We seem to be remote from most of the world's problems,'' says Thompson, who made a presentation 15 months ago to about 250 Hythe-area residents worried over scores of attacks on oilfield facilities in northern Alberta.
"Also, some sort of leftover of our old colonial mentality says that we're so unimportant that nothing really important could happen here,'' offers Thompson.

The danger of that mindset was underscored by the arrest last month of alleged Islamic terrorist Ahmed Ressam of Montreal.
The 32-year-old Algerian was nabbed trying to enter Washington state from British Columbia.
He is charged with attempting to bring a highly explosive substance - RDX, or cyclotrimethylene trinitramine - into the country.
Another Algerian national believed linked to Ressam was arrested last week in New York City.
Abdel Ghani, who is alleged to have travelled to Seattle on Dec. 11 to meet Ressam, was charged with secretly trying to help Ressam violate federal explosives laws and with conspiring to use fraudulent credit and bank cards.
"The Americans just had a good fright,'' says Thompson.

'Nightmare didn't appear'

"The nightmare I had of a bomb at a New Year's party didn't appear, but you have to wonder what else is down in the States right now.''
Thompson says a classic case of Canada burying its head in the sand surfaced in 1993 when massive cigarette smuggling on the Akwesasne reserve in Quebec turned violent.
Mohawk police were powerless to stem the flow of black-market smokes - out-manned and outgunned by the smugglers.
During the summer of 1993 there were several car bombings and drive-by shootings. And that fall, city hall in nearby Cornwall was shot up, spurring the mayor and his family to go into hiding.
"The government only got really interested (in the cigarette smuggling) when it realized how much money it was losing in tax revenue, never mind the law and order issue, which was profound enough,'' Thompson says.

Then there's the infamous case of Hugh Hambleton, the Canadian academic who spent more than 20 years spying for the Soviet Union.
Moscow recruited Hambleton in 1947. Between 1956 and 1961 he worked for NATO and supplied secrets to the Soviets. Canadian authorities discovered the economist's espionage equipment in 1979, which led to his eventual conviction in a British courtroom and a 10-year sentence.
Although the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau was alerted about Hambleton, "it took the British government to charge and convict him,'' Thompson says.

Paid for by CSIS

"The only time the Canadians really went after one particular group, CSIS and everybody else was allowed to go after the neo-nazis and the Heritage Front.

"It was an easy political call and so the resources and the political go-ahead were there to make life very hard for the Heritage Front,'' now neutered after being infiltrated by police and a CSIS agent.
"I think half the organization consisted of people who were placed in there to keep an eye on things. Then at the end we find out the whole organization was paid for by CSIS. The premise was if you're going to have a cockroach problem you might as well build a roach motel.''
Canada has had more success fighting home-grown troublemakers such as white supremacists. "It's too fragmented to be called a movement,'' says Thompson.

"Right now all the nuts seem to be unscrewed from the bolt.''

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Opdateret d. 22/1/05