- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

While Canada’s security services performed admirably in the investigation leading to last weekend’s arrests of Muslim men for planning a series of terrorist attacks, Ottawa has only begun to address the larger problem: that its lenient asylum, immigration and refugee-status laws have made Canada a haven for terrorists with easy access to the United States. The threat was spotlighted Thursday at a hearing held by House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims.

The panel, chaired by Rep. John Hostettler, Indiana Republican, heard chilling testimony from Janice Kephart, a former counsel to the September 11 commission, and David Harris, formerly strategic planning chief for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Much of the problem, according to Mr. Harris, stems from the fact that in per capita terms, Canada takes in double the number of immigrants and three to four times the number of refugees as the United States. Moreover, as CSIS admits, Canada is unable to effectively screen and integrate these immigrants, with approximately 90 percent of applicants from Afghanistan and Pakistan being insufficiently vetted for security purposes.

Canada’s security problems have been further exacerbated by the fact that politicians from the Liberal Party, ousted from power in January’s national elections, curried favor with Islamists and friends of the Tamil Tigers. Supporters of the Tigers, a terrorist group that helped pioneer the modern use of suicide bombings, have become a political force to be reckoned with, particularly in the Toronto area, as a result of the mass migration of Sri Lankan refugees to Canada since the early 1980s. The Liberals moved only belatedly and under pressure, including the threat of court action, to ban Hamas and Hezbollah in Canada.

On the positive side, new Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party has been in power just over 100 days and heads a minority government, has courageously acted to ban the Tamil Tigers. But the Islamist threat has benefited from a lethal combination of Saudi money and radical clerics that have helped turn Canada into a home of radicals who fought in such places as Chechnya, Afghanistan and Bosnia. In total, according to Canadian intelligence, there are more than 350 jihadists and 50 terrorist groups with a presence in Canada.

Most troubling of all is the testimony of Miss Kephart, who made a powerful case that today, “terrorists with Canadian, Caribbean or Mexican citizenship can move in and out of the United States… virtually unconcerned about detection,” and that al Qaeda is working to exploit these weaknesses in order to attack us again. Anyone concerned about addressing U.S. national security vulnerabilities needs to go to the House Judiciary Committee Web site and read this testimony.

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