"The Toronto 17 were not the First Canadian Homegrown Terrorists: A Review of The Martyr's Oath: The Apprenticeship of a Homegrown Terrorist, by Stewart Bell"
June 14, 2006.
If you didnít read Martyrís Oath last fall when it first came out, youíre probably like most Canadians sitting there wondering how seventeen nice Muslim Canadian boys came to be arrested on terrorism charges in Toronto last week. Donít wait to be enlightened by the terminally politically-correct CBC. Instead check out Stewart Bellís book. Not only is it prescient in warning about the spread of the new phenomena of "homegrown" terrorism to Canadaís tolerant shores, it is a very good read, conjuring images of Osama bin Laden wannabes wandering around in exotic Middle Eastern deserts, AK-47s in hand.
But if, in a moment of weakness, you turn on your TV to see whatís going on, youíll find that the CBC, except for the curmudgeonly Rex Murphy, has been thrown into a paroxysm of angst over this head-on challenge to the Corporationís guiding multicultural ideology. While the CBC has featured some brief informative clips from terrorism experts on the "alleged" plot, more air time has been allotted to spokespeople from the Muslim community more worried about violations of civil rights and backlash than the prospect of death and destruction in Canadian streets. Still though the CBC coverage of the Brampton Courthouse showing men in Islamic robes and skullcaps and women in black niqabs, looking like they had just gotten off the plane from Iraq, struggling to get through a mob of reporters, while a line of riot police stood menacingly by, was scaring the hell out of ordinary Canadians about where multiculturalism was headed.
Stewart Bell thoroughly researched his book, tracking the Jabarah brothers from their middle class home in St. Catherines on the Niagara Peninsula to Kuwait, Pakistan, Afghanistan, South East Asia, and beyond. Although he never got access to either of the boys Ė one being in the Manhattan Detention Centre and the other already in Paradise with his reward of seventy two virgins, he spent much time with the boysí alienated father Mansour whose own fundamentalism and anti-Western ways may have planted the seeds of the boysí own peculiarly Islamic spiritual quest.
As an experienced and award-winning investigative reporter on the national security beat for the National Post, Bell managed to get his hands on many intelligence reports and court documents. Bellís book just invites comparisons between the Jabarah brothers and the Toronto 17.
The brother who swears the bayat or "martyrís oath" of loyalty to Osama bin Laden, which gives the book its title, is Mohammed Jabarah. He and his older brother Abdul Rahman who also becomes an Al Qaeda member came to St. Catherines as children with the family. Mohammed was twelve years old. The boys attended the Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School, which unlike Meadowvale Secondary School, which was attended by some of the Toronto terror suspects, did not have Muslim prayer rooms and allow Islamic attire. Mohammed came to school for the ESL program wearing the obligatory Catholic school uniform of white shirt, sweater vest and slacks. He stayed to himself and his classmates donít remember much about him. Maybe if he would have come to school dressed like some of the Toronto 17 or preached Islam at lunch like another, he would have made a more lasting impression.
Mohammed and Abdul Rahman differed from what has been reported about the Toronto "cell" in that they maintained much closer ties with their home countries going back to Kuwait every summer to visit relatives. It was while there that through their wealthy young friend Anas Al Kandari they were exposed to the radical preaching of Muslim cleric Sulayman Abu Gaith who showed them videotapes from his jihad in Bosnia. They watched documentary scenes of Muslims being abused and Osama bin Ladin calling for a return to the Koran and a fight against the Crusaders and the Jews. Abu Gaithís role in recruiting the boys looks very much like that of Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the 43-year old janitor-cum- prayer-leader at the Ar-Rahman Islamic Centre in suburban Mississauga, who allegedly recruited some of the younger Toronto jihadis.
The Jabarah brothers also didnít have to go all the way to Arabia for radical Islamist preaching. According to Bell, their own mosque, the Masjid al Noor, back in St. Catherines featured visiting extremist Saudi clerics, members of the Fateh Kamel cell in Montreal that spawned Ahmed Ressam, the would-be Millennium bomber, and veterans of the holy wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia, all proselytizing for jihad and martyrdom.
Like some of the Toronto group, Abdul Rahman went to Canadian universities, many of which with their Wahabi-influenced Muslim Students Associations have become hotbeds of radical Islam and jihadist ideology. In Abdul Rahmanís case, it was Brock University and the University of Ottawa. Mohammed was accepted at St. Maryís University in Halifax, but wanted to do more than just talk about jihad. After he graduated in 1999, he went off to Kuwait for the summer and then told his father he was proceeding on to Pakistan to study Islam. This should have been a real tip-off, but apparently seemed like nothing out of the ordinary to his father. Instead, Mohammed was off to Afghanistan following Abdul Rahaman and Anas to an Al Qaeda training camp. It is here that the parallel with the Toronto Tim Horton jihadis (so-dubbed because they would change at the popular donut chain on their way to and from their loud training games in peaceful Ontario cottage country that alerted the locals) begins to get a bit strained.
In Afghanistan, Mohammed took a series of progressively more advanced training courses in the infamous Al Qaeda camps, spent a few days with the Taliban fighting the Northern Alliance, met and impressed Osama bin Laden who being no dope immediately saw the utility of his English language skills and clean Canadian passport, and eventually swore the bayat at the end of July 2001.
Mohammedís career was short and not as glorious as his brother Abdul Rahman who was subsequently ďmartyredĒ by Saudi security forces after blowing up a housing compound in Riyadh. Mohammedís first assignment was a terrorist operation against American and Israeli targets in South East Asia. It started before 9/11 and continued afterwards. The targets were originally to be in Manila, but were switched to Singapore. There he organized an operation with Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda affiliate from Indonesia, and succeeded in buying a large amount of ammonium nitrate, the chemical also purchased by the Toronto suspects. However, also like in Toronto, Singaporeís Internal Security Department got wind of the plot, and rounded up most of the JI plotters except for Mohammed who happened to be out of the country in Kuala Lumpur at the time trying to get more money. Mohammed got wind of the arrests and fled, first by land to Thailand and then by air to the Gulf where he was caught in Oman.
For domestic political reasons not wanting to turn Mohammed over to the Americans, who were anxious to interrogate him about his extensive Al Qaeda contacts and knowledge of ongoing operations, he was offered to Canada. Somewhat reluctantly, because the Canadian authorities didnít know what they could do with him as the anti-terrorist law was only passed after Jabarahís alleged terrorist acts, two CSIS agents were dispatched to bring him back. Once back in Canada, Mohammed was turned over to an enterprising CSIS agent by the name of Mike Pavlovic who, after sweettalking as much information as possible out of him and entertaining him at the Brassrail strip club in Toronto, got him to turn himself over to the Americans. And so that is how Mohammed Jabarah came to take up residence in the Manhattan Detention Center where at least for a while he cooperated providing intelligence before clamming up.
And, of course, ever since Muslim advocacy groups like CAIR Canada and civil rights champions have been howling about how poor Mohammed Jabarahís civil rights were violated. The complaints have already started about the treatment of the Toronto 17 with the usual cast, like lawyer Rocco Galati, in front of the cameras. But donít expect much sympathy from the relatives of the more than 200 victims of the Bali bombing, which tragically was paid for with money that Mohammed Jabarah gave to Hambali, the mastermind of the bombings. And ďwhenĒ it happens here as CSIS has warned ďnot if,Ē Canadians will feel the same. Those who have read Martyrís Oath, and not those who have only watched CBC, will be in a much better position to understand what is going on.
Note: Patrick Grady is the author of Royal Canadian Jihad, a novel about Islamist terrorists in Canada.
Interview by Joseph Planta of Stewart Bell about Martyr's Oath on Monday, September 26,2005 on thecommentary.ca.