Hezbollah got 'diverse material' in Canada for its armed struggle: report
Secret CSIS analysis released as government adds to list of terrorist entities
Jim Bronskill-The Ottawa Citizen
Hezbollah's Canadian procurement network acquired a diverse range of equipment "for use in the group's armed struggle" in the Middle East, says a newly obtained intelligence report. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service assessment was prepared last November, two weeks before the federal government formally branded Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The CSIS report acknowledges the group's involvement in legitimate political and social activities, but plainly states Hezbollah "has conducted a number of terrorist operations around the world."A declassified version of the secret report, Hezbollah and its Activities in Canada, was obtained yesterday by the Citizen under the Access to Information Act.
A passage indicating when the group began organizing in Canada was deleted from the report. It says, however, that the "procurement network established by Hezbollah in Canada acquired diverse materiel for use in the group's armed struggle in the Middle East."
In March 2001, Ali Adham Amhaz of Burnaby, B.C., was among three people indicted in North Carolina for allegedly plotting secretly to provide services and items -- including false documents and high-tech gear -- to Hezbollah operatives in the Middle East for use in violent attacks. CSIS and the RCMP had assisted the FBI in a probe of the apparent terrorist conspiracy, which involved several other individuals, operating from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mr. Amhaz has denied involvement with Hezbollah. The U.S. has dropped its case against him. A fourth individual, U.S. resident Said Harb, was also indicted and later pleaded guilty and offered testimony against two other Americans who were convicted last June on charges of supporting Hezbollah. The CSIS report also says Hezbollah has conducted training courses in weapons and explosives handling, collects funds through the use of benevolent organizations and has been implicated in money laundering activities. The release came as the government added three more groups -- the international Abu Nidal Organization, the Philippines-based Abu Sayyaf Group and the Shining Path of Peru -- to its list of terrorist entities, bringing the total to 19. The assets of any listed group may be seized. In addition, it is a crime to knowingly participate in the activities of a designated organization or deal in its property or finances.
The Lebanese-based group Hezbollah, also known as the Party of God, has called for the destruction of Israel. CSIS warned as long as six years ago that Hezbollah had established a base in Canada that can "assist and support terrorists" seeking safe haven in North America. However, the federal cabinet was divided last year on whether to label the group a terrorist organization because of the charitable works done by its political and social arms.
Hezbollah was eventually added to the list of terrorist entities in December.
The Canadian Alliance and Jewish groups complained the move was long overdue, while Lebanese officials protested the listing. The Nov. 27 CSIS report, which was distributed to key federal security officials, notes Hezbollah consists of a military wing for the purpose of waging war with Israel, and political, social, educational and religious divisions to assist with the reconstruction of Lebanon and improve living standards."Nonetheless, since its inception, Hezbollah has largely engaged in political violence to achieve its aims," the report says.
Three New Groups Added to Terror List:
- Abu Nidal Organization, named for its founder, has carried out attacks on several continents. It wants to destroy Israel and create an independent Palestinian state.
- Abu Sayyaf Group, an Islamist separatist group, is fighting to establish an Iranian-style Islamic state in Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines.
- The Shining Path, or Sendero Luminoso, aims to destroy Peruvian institutions and replace them with a communist revolutionary regime that would rid the country of foreign influences. It has targeted some Canadian citizens and businesses, as well as the Canadian Embassy. Ran with fact box "Three new groups added to terror list", which has been appended to the story. Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen