1897) International Terrorism In Canada: Is The Canadian Police Doing Its Job?

On August 27, 2007, Turkish Canadians will hold a memorial service in Ottawa to remember the killing of Colonel Attila Altıkat by Armenian terrorists exactly a quarter of a century ago. The killers remain free at large. Canadian justice is yet to be served.

Many are asking whether the Canadian police are doing their job?

International terrorism has found a fertile ground in Canada long before the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Two notable cases are: (1) the downing on June 19, 1985 of Air India flight 182 by Sikh terrorists; and, (2) the assassination of a Turkish diplomat three years earlier by Armenian terrorists in the Canadian national capital.

The Air India inquiry, set up by the Harper government, to ease the mind of a justifiably skeptical public has revealed some disturbing facts, notably the communication disconnect that seems to exist between intelligence and police/security systems. Top security experts giving evidence at the public inquiry stated that, just days prior to the bombing of flight 182, the then director general of counter-terrorism had come into possession of intelligence that Sikh terrorists would indeed bring down a plane.

Similar information was transmitted to security officials – as became known in the inquiry later - in the case of the Armenian terrorist attack on the Turkish embassy in 1982. No follow-up action was taken and the terrorists carried out their bloody schemes with relative impunity.

In 1985, 329 innocent people died when AI flight 182 was downed off the coast of Ireland by a Sikh terrorist bomb. Two Sikh nationalists, Parmar and Reyat, were given light five-year sentences when they confessed their role in the bombing. However, it is not certain whether they were the real masterminds of the bombing and whether the Canadian police and security services were as diligent and efficient as they should have been. The on-going public inquiry on the AI terrorism is turning up amazing revelations.

Thus, when Graham Pinos, a former justice department lawyer and later a terrorism expert in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, first heard of the plane bombing, he revealed his thoughts at the public inquiry in the following terms: “I was greatly upset. I said: ‘Holy expletive, they knew, they knew.' I had a distinct impression that they knew something was going to happen.”

25 year on, assassins remain at large

The same sad reality is valid in the case of the murder of the Turkish diplomat, Attila Altıkat. Twenty-five years ago, this innocent person was murdered in a cold-blooded attack at the intersection of Champlain Bridge in downtown Ottawa as he was driving to work. The sketch of the Armenian terrorist who carried out this murder was published on the local TV broadcast on August 28, 2006. The reporter, Charlie Greenwell, has unearthed an incredible set of information about this case, including information about the car (a yellow 1970 Citroen) rented in Montreal ostensibly for the contract killing in Ottawa. Even more astonishing, the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa had, days before the murder, conveyed an official warning of impending terrorist action to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs in Ottowa and was requesting protection; the warning fell on deaf ears.

The police and security remained inactive, in effect providing international terrorism a free hand for their dastardly activities on Canadian soil.

Even now, after so many years, there are huge problems with the Canadian police and security services when it comes to protection against international terrorism in Canada, especially in the national capital. First of all, there is the age-old Canadian problem of divided jurisdiction and responsibility. As happened in the 1982 murder of diplomat Altıkat, there was a significant delay in response on the part of the Canadian police as the question of who should respond (whether the federal Royal Mounted Canadian Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the City of Ottawa Police) was taken up. As the police and security forces discussed possible responses, the murderer literally got away.

More significantly, as Charlie Greenwell of the Ottawa TV Channel CJOH has indicated, the Altıkat case has languished in police hands as “a cold file case.” In other words, the police have done precious little to trace and arrest the murderer and his terrorist team.

Canadian justice has failed miserably in both the Air India and the Altıkat cases. The war against international terrorism is being lost in Canada.

Turkish Canadians remember on August 27th not only the innocent Turkish diplomat Altıkat, but at the same time they mourn the miscarriage of Canadian justice.

Ironically, the Harper government has suddenly decided to recognize the so-called Armenian “genocide” and the Canadian Parliament has adopted pro-Armenian resolutions. Turkish Canadians are left wondering whether the miscarriage of Canadian justice is part of a political strategy of rewarding Armenian terrorism.

* Ozay Mehmet, Ph.D, Professor Emeritus of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ont., CANADA. He can be reached at mehmet5010@rogers.com

August 23, 2007


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