June 10, 2006

June 10, 06: CSIS Jack Hooper, Deputy Director Operations

Fund our security services adequately; don't create new ones. Let the agencies we already have do the jobs for which they have trained and are eminently capable. Then, let the mainstream media and the courts not undo their efforts ... you may have your own examples of this.

Statement by Jack Hooper, Deputy Director Operations
Canadian Security Intelligence Service
to the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
(SCONSAD), May 29th, 2006


[....] First, the current threat environment related to terrorism; and
Secondly, our organization's specific interests in Afghanistan.

Terrorist activities inspired by the "Al Qaida ideology and operational doctrine" are currently the most prominent and immediate terrorist security threat faced globally and domestically. It is a phenomenon that has been manifested in many parts of the world.

[....] There has been, as well, a growing trend towards non-terrorist criminal activity by these individuals and groups to either generate revenue or acquire materials in their terrorist planning.

Canada is not now, nor has it ever been immune to the threat of terrorism. In fact, the committee will know that prior to the events of 9/11, the most significant act of terrorism in contemporary history, if you measure it in terms of casualties, had its roots in Canada. I am speaking of the Air India bombing, which resulted in the deaths of 329 people.

Similarly, Canadian citizens have not been immune more recently as witnessed in the deaths of Canadian citizens in the 9/11 attacks in the United States or in Bali. As well, Canadian military personnel and a diplomat serving in Afghanistan have been killed and wounded in terrorist attacks there and the threat to our forces there remains high.
We have not been immune from terrorism in other ways as well. There are residents in Canada that are graduates of terrorist training camps and campaigns, including experienced combatants from conflicts in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya and elsewhere.

As well, Canadian citizens or residents have been implicated in terrorist attacks and conspiracies elsewhere in the world. For example, a young man is now awaiting trial here in Ottawa because of his alleged involvement in a bombing conspiracy in the United Kingdom. Others have been involved in terrorist plots against targets in the United States, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Singapore, Pakistan and other countries.

Canada has been named on several occasions as one of six Western "target countries" by Al Qaida leaders, most recently last summer.

[.... Afghanistan]

Let me conclude with a few words about Afghanistan. It is a country that has been of interest to CSIS for a number of years. It continues to be of active interest to us for three basic reasons.

First, it has a long-standing association with the global terrorist phenomenon, particularly Al Qaida, dating back to the days of the Soviet occupation. Many foreign nationals were active participants, along with Afghan nationals, in the anti-Soviet campaign. Many of them continued their links with that organization after the Soviet withdrawal. And a good number of them, have since migrated elsewhere in the world, including to our country.

Second, the deployment of Canadian Forces to Afghanistan has resulted in our Service taking an active role to support our military colleagues in the country. While I am not at liberty to discuss the operational details or methodologies of that support, I can say two things about it.

This support has been principally focussed on the acquisition of intelligence to help the Canadian Forces defend themselves against terrorist attacks in that country. This intelligence is known to have saved lives, uncovered weapons and arms caches, and disrupted planned terrorist attacks.

The third reason we have a continuing active interest in Afghanistan comes back to concerns for the stability of the region, more broadly speaking. Afghanistan is the current venue where the terrorist designs of a number of organizations rooted in Pakistan, the central Asian republics and the subcontinent are planned and operationalized, and where individual activists seek support and sanctuary.

Our historical investigations have taught us at some point, this condition of broader regional instability will be the progenitor of terrorist threats in Canada. Therefore, we have to orient our collection programs not only tactically in response to current circumstances in Afghanistan, but strategically as well to better situate the Canadian security intelligence community against future threats.

In the here and now, terrorism and insurgency is being brought to Canadians in Afghanistan. At some future point, if we are to learn the lessons of history, their practitioners may bring violence to the streets of our cities.


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