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TERRORIST THREATS TO THE UNITED STATES
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
JANUARY 26, 2000
Serial No. 85
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
JAMES E. ROGAN, California
LINDSEY O. GRAHAM, South Carolina
MARY BONO, California
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
THOMAS E. MOONEY, SR., General Counsel-Chief of Staff
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas, Chairman
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
JIM WILON, Counsel
LAURA BAXTER, Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
LEON BUCK, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
January 26, 2000
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Collacott, Martin, Ambassador, Canadian Department of External Affairs (retired)
Emerson, Steven, executive director, Terrorism Newswire
Harris, David, former chief of strategic planning, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (retired)
Sands, Christopher, fellow and director, Canada Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Stubblefield, Gary, president, GlobalOptions LLC
Thompson, John, director, the Mackenzie Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wilcox, Philip C., Ambassador, U.S. State Department (retired)
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Collacott, Martin, Ambassador, Canadian Department of External Affairs (retired): Prepared statement
Emerson, Steven, executive director, Terrorism Newswire: Prepared statement
Harris, David, former chief of strategic planning, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (retired): Prepared statement
Jackson Lee, Hon. Sheila, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas: Prepared statement
Sands, Christopher, fellow and director, Canada Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies: Prepared statement
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas: Prepared statement
Stubblefield, Gary, president, GlobalOptions LLC: Prepared statement
Thompson, John, director, the Mackenzie Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Prepared statement
Wilcox, Philip C., Ambassador, U.S. State Department (retired): Prepared statement
TERRORIST THREATS TO THE UNITED STATES
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2000
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 11 a.m., in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, Edward A. Pease, and Sheila Jackson Lee.
Also present: Representative John J. LaFalce.
Staff present: George Fishman, Chief Counsel; Jim Wilon, Counsel; Kelly Dixon, Clerk; and Leon C. Buck, Minority Counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will come to order.
Before we get to opening statements, I have a couple of comments and announcements to make. The first is to thank our witnesses for staying in town an extra 24 hours to be here today. My feeling was that a lot of people had gone to a great inconvenience and a lot of effort and perhaps expenditure of funds to be here, and we needed to proceed on such an important subject.
I wasn't sure whether it was the right thing to do early this morning when we were trying to make a final decision, but clearly I think it feels good to take the initiative, when the government is closed down, and to be here and to have a hearing on such an important subject.
Also I want to mention that Sheila Jackson Lee, the ranking member, is on her way here. I talked with her earlier this morning. She has other meetings going on today as well, so she will be in and out, but I do expect her shortly to be able to make an opening statement as well.
Also I want to recognize, we have two Members of Congress with us today, Ed Pease, a member of this subcommittee from Indiana, to my right, and John LaFalce from New York, who has an interest in this subject as well.
I would like to single out Ed Pease simply because we could not have this hearing if we did not have two Members present, so Ed Pease is the indispensable individual here today. He is also, in my judgment—or maybe I should put it this way: I don't know of any other Member of Congress who is more conscientious than Congressman Pease. I don't think he has ever missed a hearing or markup of this subcommittee. He reads everything ahead of time and is well-educated on the subject of immigration and terrorism today. He is a special friend, and I appreciate his always making an effort to be at these hearings.
With that, I think we will proceed. We are going to go straight through today. We won't take a lunch break. We only have one panel. I am sure we will have a number of questions for the members of the panel who are here. We are missing two witnesses. I understand that Mr. Sands is on his way. Mr. Thompson was in Canada as of yesterday afternoon. We have not heard from him since. So we hope that he will walk in the door at any minute as well. But in any case, I hope by the time we get to them they will be here or we will know their whereabouts.
I am going to recognize myself for an opening statement. Then I hope Ms. Jackson Lee will be here. If not, we will proceed to our witnesses.
Recent arrests on the Canada-U.S. border underscore the threats faced by both our nations from international terrorists and alien and drug smugglers.
The December arrest of Ahmed Ressam as he attempted to enter the U.S. from Canada with hundreds of pounds of sophisticated bomb-making materials was a loud wake-up call. An alleged accomplice, Lucia Garofolo, a Canadian, smuggled one or more suspected Algerian terrorists into Vermont.
Canadian media reported that Ressam came to Canada in 1994 carrying a false French passport and using an alias. He applied for refugee status, stating that the Algerian Government had accused him of terrorist and criminal activities.
The Canadian authorities released Ressam and scheduled a court date to hear his refugee claim, but he failed to appear. Ressam was taken into custody but then was released again.
Between 1994 and 1999, Ressam repeatedly failed to appear for court hearings, but he was not detained or deported. He embarked on a career of crime that resulted in a number of criminal charges and convictions.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service identified Ressam as a potential terrorist and tracked him for a few years, but then dropped its surveillance due to a lack of resources.
In May of 1998, Canadian immigration authorities issued a warrant for Ressam's arrest but did not actively pursue or locate him. In the summer of 1998, Montreal police charged, convicted and briefly imprisoned Ressam for theft, but failed to act on the immigration warrant.
In February of 1999, when Ressam submitted fingerprints along with his application for a Canadian passport, the fingerprints were not correlated to those in his refugee application or his criminal record, so Ressam was able to receive a Canadian passport in a false name.
Numerous Canadian Government officials, terrorism experts and journalists have criticized the Canadian refugee system as prone to abuse by criminals and terrorists. Thousands of refugee claimants each year—as many as 10,000 last year, according to Leon Benoit, a member of the Canadian Parliament—disappear into Canadian society, never to be located by law enforcement authorities.
Even if a refugee claim is denied and the alien ordered deported, the deportation order is seldom carried out. The Canadian National Post recently reported that Immigration Canada, the Canadian immigration agency, has accumulated over 40,000 outstanding deportation orders over the past 6 years.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has warned us about terrorism. ''For a number of reasons, Canada is an attractive venue for terrorists. Long borders and coastlines offer many points of entry which can facilitate movement to and from various sites around the world, particularly to the United States,'' CSIS reported last month.
This statement echoes the Service's 1998 annual report: ''most of the world's terrorist groups have established themselves in Canada, seeking safe haven, setting up operational bases, and attempting to gain access to the USA,'' CSIS informed the Canadian public at that time.
In Montreal, where Ressam was briefly jailed then released despite pending warrants, police investigator Claude Pacquette noted that loose immigration controls and interagency fumbling have turned Canada into ''a Club Med for terrorists.'' .
In a disturbing story about organized crime and illegal drugs, The Globe and Mail quoted 19-year Royal Canadian Mounted Police veteran Constable Scott Rintoul as calling Canada ''an easy mark'' because of its porous border with the United States and weak sentences for those convicted of drug offenses.
Drugs coming to the U.S. from British Columbia, where there is a significant domestic production, have increased tenfold.
It would be misleading to suggest that the only problems are in Canada. The U.S. has only 300 Border Patrol agents along the entire 4,000-mile U.S.-Canadian border. Although Congress has authorized and funded 1,000 new Border Patrol agents each year since 1996, the Clinton administration hired only 369 agents in fiscal year 1999. And the United States has yet to begin the implementation of an entry-exit control system at its borders to monitor cross-border traffic for law enforcement purposes.
All of the above problems have created a situation where terrorists, and also illegal aliens, alien smugglers and drug smugglers, are increasingly using Canada as a transit country en route to the United States. In fact, the fortuitous apprehension of Ressam occurred only because he panicked during his inspection, which raises the question of how many other Ressams have successfully crossed the border.
The problem is a two-way street. The U.S. also exports terrorists and drugs to Canada, so improved border security will benefit both countries.
Both Canada and the U.S. are sovereign nations and should respect each other's right to determine their own immigration laws. The goal should be to reach mutual solutions to mutual problems, acting with good faith in the interests of our respective nations. If Canadians want more liberal immigration and drug policies, that is their decision, and if Americans want to act on security concerns, that is our decision. The issue is one of sovereignty, not who is to blame.
Experts from both countries have observed that the border has become an irresistible temptation to international terrorists and smugglers. As a result, we should focus on two issues: First, terrorism and the smuggling of drugs and aliens. These crimes pose a direct and growing threat to citizens in both Canada and the U.S. Second, the legitimate flow of people and goods across the border. This should be facilitated.
There is too much at stake in terms of bilateral trade to accept anything less than a well-secured border that also facilitates legitimate crossings. In fact, cooperation at the border between immigration, customs and investigative agencies is already good. This cooperation resulted in the largest-ever alien smuggling bust in upstate New York and in Quebec in 1998 and triggered the international law enforcement response in the Ressam case.
Ahmed Ressam proved that those in the U.S. who argue that accused terrorists don't enter at checkpoints are wrong. The United States now needs, more than ever, to develop and implement a system to track the entries and exits of foreign nationals. While it won't stop all terrorists, an entry-exit system will deter them, because they can no longer slip across the border with no trace.
Canadian citizens will benefit from such a system through information shared with law enforcement officials about suspected criminals traveling north. Canadians share our relief that the result of the Ressam entry was an arrest, not a terrorist bombing, and understand that the U.S. must act to protect its citizens.
Congress has authorized a buildup of the Border Patrol. A similar buildup of border infrastructure that responds to both security and congestion concerns is also needed.
Congress has authorized development and implementation of a comprehensive port-of-entry security system that will allow us to know who enters and leaves our country. When we don't know who comes in, we don't know what comes in, such as bomb-making materials or illegal drugs.
Our Border Patrol and Customs agents are dedicated professionals, but they have too few resources and have said that the Ressam arrest was an exception. ''It was pure luck, the unraveling of this in Port Angeles,'' Vincent Cannistraro, former counter-terrorism chief for the CIA, explained.
To protect United States citizens from terrorism, illegal drugs, and alien smugglers, we must know who enters and leaves our country, a legitimate and understandable goal given the security risks we face and the illegal immigration problems we confront.
As we implement this crucial policy as quickly as possible, consistent with efforts to expedite and expand legal traffic, we should also make better use of present and future technologies. For instance, programs to preclear business travelers and provide them with a variety of options for quick passage across the border should be expanded. The twin goals of increasing security while also facilitating legal traffic can be attained.
Canadians want easy access to the U.S. Americans want increased security in an increasingly unfriendly world. Neither request is unreasonable. Given our two nations' long and successful past relationship, there is no reason why we cannot accommodate both interests.
That concludes my opening statement.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. LAMAR SMITH, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Recent arrests on the Canada-U.S. border underscore the threats faced by both our nations from international terrorists, and alien and drug smugglers.
The December arrest of Ahmed Ressam as he attempted to enter the U.S. from Canada with hundreds of pounds of sophisticated bomb-making materials was a loud wake-up call.
And an alleged accomplice, Lucia Garofolo, a Canadian, smuggled one or more suspected Algerian terrorists into Vermont.
Canadian media reported that Ressam came to Canada in 1994 carrying a false French passport and using an alias. He applied for refugee status, stating that the Algerian government had accused him of terrorist and criminal activities.
The Canadian authorities released Ressam and scheduled a court date to hear his refugee claim, but he failed to appear. Ressam was taken into custody but then released again.
Between 1994 and 1999, Ressam repeatedly failed to appear for court hearings, but he was not detained or deported. He embarked on a career of crime that resulted in a number of criminal charges and convictions. Evidence indicates that Ressam was a member of an Algerian crime gang raising funds for an Algerian terrorist organization responsible for murderous attacks on Algerian and French civilians.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service identified Ressam as a potential terrorist and tracked him for a few years, but then dropped its surveillance due to a lack of resources.
In May of 1998, Canadian immigration authorities issued a warrant for Ressam's arrest but did not actively pursue or locate him. In the summer of 1998, Montreal police charged, convicted and briefly imprisoned Ressam for theft, but failed to act on the immigration warrant. In February of 1999, when Ressam submitted fingerprints along with his application for a Canadian passport, the fingerprints were not correlated to those in his refugee application or his criminal record, so Ressam was able to receive a Canadian passport in a false name.
Numerous Canadian government officials, terrorism experts, and journalists have criticized the Canadian refugee system as prone to abuse by criminals and terrorists. Canada does not detain refugee claimants, even those with suspicious backgrounds. Instead, thousands of refugee claimants each year—as many as 10,000 last year, according to Leon Benoit, a member of the Canadian Parliament—disappear into Canadian society, never to be located by law enforcement authorities.
Even if a refugee claim is denied and the alien ordered deported, the deportation order is almost never carried out. The Canadian National Post recently reported that Immigration Canada, the Canadian immigration agency, has accumulated over 40,000 outstanding deportation orders over the past six years.
The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service has warned us about terrorism. ''For a number of reasons, Canada is an attractive venue for terrorists. Long borders and coastlines offer many points of entry which can facilitate movement to and from various sites around the world, particularly the United States,'' CSIS reported last month.
This statement echoes the service's 1998 annual report: ''Most of the world's terrorist groups have established themselves in Canada, seeking safe haven, setting up operational bases, and attempting to gain access to the USA,'' CSIS informed the Canadian public at that time.
In Montreal, where Ressam was briefly jailed then released despite pending warrants, police investigator Claude Pacquette noted that loose immigration controls and interagency fumbling, have turned Canada into ''a Club Ed for terrorists.''
Last August, The Globe and Mail reported, ''Canada could soon enjoy membership in an exclusive club of nations—including Panama, Columbia and Mexico-blacklisted by the United States for being soft on drugs.'' The newspaper quoted British Columbia Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh as blaming a lack of funding for the drug enforcement shortcomings in B.C.
And in another disturbing story about organized crime and illegal drugs, The Globe and Mail quoted 19-year RCMP veteran Constable Scott Rintoul as calling Canada ''an easy mark'' because of its porous border with the United States and weak sentences for those convicted of drug offenses.
Drugs coming to the U.S. from British Columbia, where there is significant domestic production, have increased tenfold.
It would be misleading to suggest that the only problems are in Canada. The U.S. has only 300 Border Patrol agents along the entire, 4000-mile U.S.-Canadian border. Although Congress authorized and funded 1,000 new Border Patrol agents per year since 1996, the Clinton Administration hired only 369 agents in FY 1999.
And the United States has yet to begin the implementation of an entry-exit control system at its borders to monitor cross-border traffic for law enforcement purposes. All the above problems have created a situation where terrorists, and also illegal aliens, alien smugglers, and drug smugglers, are increasingly using Canada as a transit country en route to the United States.
In fact, the fortuitous apprehension of Ressam occurred only because he picked a poor crossing route and panicked during his inspection, which raises the question of how many other Ressams have successfully crossed the border.
The problem is a two-way street. The U.S. also exports terrorists and drugs to Canada. So improved border security will benefit both countries.
Both Canada and the U.S. are sovereign nations and should respect each other's right to determine their own immigration laws. The goal should be to reach mutual solutions to mutual problems, acting with good faith in the interests of our respective nations.
If Canadians want more liberal immigration and drug policies, that is their decision. And if Americans want to act on security concerns, that is our decision. The issue is one of sovereignty, not who is to blame.
Experts from both countries have observed that the border has become an irresistible temptation to international terrorists and smugglers.
As a result, we should focus on two issues: First, terrorism and the smuggling of drugs and aliens. These crimes pose a direct and growing threat to citizens in both Canada and the U.S. Second, the legitimate flow of people and goods across the border. This should be facilitated.
There is too much at stake in terms of bilateral trade to accept anything less than a well-secured border that also facilitates legitimate crossings. In fact, cooperation at the border between immigration, customs, and investigative agencies is already good. This cooperation resulted in the largest-ever alien smuggling bust in Upstate New York and in Quebec in 1998 and triggered the international law enforcement response in the Ressam case.
Ahmed Ressam proved that those in the U.S. who argue that accused terrorists don't enter at checkpoints are wrong. The United States now needs, more than ever, to develop and implement a system to track the entries and exits of foreign nationals.
While it won't stop all terrorists, an entry-exit system will deter them because they could no longer slip across the border with no trace.
Canadian citizens will benefit from such a system through information shared with law enforcement officials about suspected criminals traveling north.
Canadians share our relief that the result of the Ressam entry was an arrest, not a terrorist bombing, and understand that the U.S. must act to protect its citizens.
Congress has authorized a buildup of the Border Patrol at a rate of 1,000 new agents per year. A similar buildup of border infrastructure that responds to both security and congestion concerns is also needed.
Congress has authorized development and implementation of a comprehensive, computerized port-of-entry security system that will allow us to know who enters and leaves our country. When we don't know who comes in, we can't know what comes in, such as bomb-making materials or illegal drugs.
Our Border Patrol and Customs agents are dedicated professionals. But they have too few resources and have said that the Ressam arrest was an exception. ''It was pure luck, the unraveling of this in Port Angeles,'' Vincent Cannistraro, former counterterrorism chief for the CPA, explained.
To protect United States citizens from terrorism, illegal drugs, and alien smugglers, we must know who enters and leaves our country-a legitimate and understandable goal given the security risks we face and the illegal immigration problems we confront.
As we implement this crucial policy as quickly as possible, consistent with efforts to expedite and expand legal traffic, we should also make better use of present and future technologies. Programs to pre-clear business travelers and provide them with a variety of options for quick passage across the border should be expanded.
The twin goals of increasing security while also facilitating legal traffic can be attained.
Canadians want easy access to the U.S. Americans want increased security in an increasingly unfriendly world. Neither request is unreasonable. Given our two nations' long and successful past relationship, there's no reason why we cannot accommodate both interests.
Mr. SMITH. Does the gentleman from Indiana have an opening statement or any comments at this time?
Mr. PEASE. No.
Mr. SMITH. If not, as I say, we will recognize the ranking member when she arrives, but we will now go to our panelists. Let me introduce the witnesses who are here or who are expected to come.
Mr. Thompson, I am glad you sneaked in the door. We are glad to have you here. I know you made a big effort, and we weren't sure where you were between here and Canada. So we are glad to have you.
The witnesses here today are Ambassador Martin Collacott, Canadian Department of External Affairs, retired; Mr. Steven Emerson, Executive Director of Terrorism Newswire; Mr. David Harris, former Chief of Strategic Planning, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, retired; Mr. Christopher Sands, Fellow and Director, Canada Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Mr. Gary Stubblefield, President, GlobalOptions LLC; Mr. John Thompson, Director of the Mackenzie Institute, Toronto; and Ambassador Phillip C. Wilcox, U.S. State Department, retired.
Mr. SMITH.Collacott, we will start with you, if we may. Thank you again for being here.
STATEMENT OF MARTIN COLLACOTT, AMBASSADOR, CANADIAN DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (RETIRED)
Mr. COLLACOTT. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for inviting me to testify this mornings. First of all, may I say as the first Canadian to testify, I want to absolve myself and my colleagues for your weather. Usually we get blamed for that, but I think we are pretty sure it came up from the Carolinas.
Now, you have mentioned many of points that I want to mention, but as you said, Canada and the United States both face major problems in dealing with the entry of criminals, terrorists and illegal migrants in general into our countries. Some of these manage to get in through regular channels, and many of them come in surreptitiously, or try to, to sneak in from the sea or from across borders, occasionally by airplane.
What I want to focus on, though, is what we call our refugee determination system, which you have already flagged, Mr. Chairman. I think in the United States you call them asylum-seekers rather than refugee claimants, but we are talking about the same thing.
I am going to focus on some of the problems with our system, which you have already done. I will make some comments briefly about your system, because, as you have said, this is a two-way discussion and a dialogue.
Most of my comments on the Canadian system are going to be quite critical. I will try and identify the bright spots.
I would like to look at some specifics. One of the problems we have in Canada is we have stretched the definition of refugee way beyond what it was intended in the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees. It was originally meant to include people fleeing well-founded fear of persecution on various grounds. We have extended it to include people fleeing from civil conflict, such as civil wars, which the U.N. intended to be only temporarily settled in neighboring countries, and all sorts of social problems, battered spouses, people who oppose the one China policy.
You have stretched it also to some degree, and I think the major source of this was very effective refugee lobbies in both countries who want to make the doors open, sometimes on humanitarian grounds, sometimes for vested interests. This has been well outlined in a document published in the States by the Center for Immigration Studies just how powerful this lobby is.
We don't have a similar document, but I think we face the same problems in Canada.
I will mention one problem you give us, and that is that you allow many people in as visitors who probably intend to stay here and can't get permanent status here, but they know they can get in under our refugee claim system because we allow people that you don't. So we have had tens and probably hundreds of thousands of people you have allowed in, and then they go up to the border and are able to claim refugee status.
One of the big problems with both of our systems is that once you are into a refugee claim or asylum claim, you are into a very elaborate, many-layered, and costly and long process. This is one of the things that I think encourages people to come and try and stay.
In our case in Canada this is made possible in large measure because of an interpretation of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms which gave some of the same rights to anyone on Canadian soil, even if they are there illegally. We don't have any provision really for removing people quickly. You have an expedited removal system, but, again, once people get into your system, they are there for a long time. In our case, protesting under the Immigration and Refugee Board still takes over 11 months, and then there can be another 7 months of assessment of risk if returned to their country of origin and another 10 months before removal. That encourages people to come to stay for a long time. The government does aim to get this down to 6 months in Canada, but the Auditor General, who is our oversight agency, wants to get it down to 10 weeks.
Again, the complexity and many-layered nature is due to an effective refugee lobby.
There are a lot of measures we can take to improve the situation. One thing we have been doing is improving intercepts at airports abroad of people with bogus travel documents. We have been doing that in cooperation with the United States. We should be doing a lot more of that. That takes resources.
One thing we did drop that we were doing was to interrogate refugee claimants when they arrive, or let's say question them when they arrive, to get all the information we can on who brought them in and how they got here. We discontinued doing that in Canada I think largely for resource purposes, and we shouldn't have.
Detention can be an important tool. That is controversial, but we started doing it in Canada with some of the Chinese boat people. We are still not doing it with the much larger numbers of people who come in by air without documents, and it makes me question how determined the government is to deal with this problem. If we were detaining people who don't have a manifestly sound claim when they arrive, this would also give us a chance to start a security check, because at the present time we don't really do a security check until people are successful in their refugee claim and then apply for landed immigrant status. That can be several years sometimes, unless there is really an egregious outstanding case against some individual that surfaces.
Perhaps the worst problem, and you mentioned it though, is our tracking and removal. The government did try to get some money to do some automated tracking a few years ago and couldn't get it on board. We have a huge number of people who haven't even had their hearings for deportation who have been refused, many who have been refused, but still haven't been deported. This is a very attractive feature, I think, of our refugee determination system for anyone who wants to come and stay for a long time.
All these measures take resources, but if we streamlined our refugee determination system, as you need to as well, I think we would have the funds for that.
Well, what is the impact in terms of things like terrorism? I would like to use the example of one group, the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka. We now have about 200,000 Tamils from Sri Lanka in Canada, most of whom have come in through the refugee system or nominated their relatives, not fleeing persecution, fleeing civil conflict. The real Tamil refugees are in refugee camps in India. The Tamil Tigers have been able to influence and infiltrate this community and I think pretty well control it, have done, I think, their fund-raising for their activities in Sri Lanka. It is the largest Sri Lankan community anywhere in the world, and it is an example of where our system has aided and abetted.
They are not the only problems. We have Middle Eastern groups, we have Sikh terrorist groups, we have IRA. But the system itself has encouraged this. I think our security and intelligence agencies are very good. They have excellent cooperation with you, but the refugee determination system does not help.
We have had a few positive developments. We made changes to our Immigration Act to provide for not giving status in Canada to terrorists. We have had a recent court decision which said Canadian national interests took precedence over deporting people back to a risky country, and we are going to sign an international convention on suppression of financing of terrorism. I tried to push through something on that 10 years ago and failed.
We have some moves in the right direction, but overall I have to say I am not comfortable with the extent to which the Canadian system is dealing. We have had reports on the inadequacy of our refugee determination system going back in the 1980's. The government has made moves to correct these, but I don't see yet a sustained attempt to clear up the kind of problems that encourage to a considerable extent terrorist groups to function in Canada.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ambassador.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Collacott follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MARTIN COLLACOTT, AMBASSADOR, CANADIAN DEPARTMENT OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (RETIRED)
Canada along with other countries is faced with an unprecedented movement of illegal migrants organized by international criminal organizations. It is estimated by the UN that four million people are smuggled across international borders each year. Criminals are now believed to make money more from people trafficking than from the smuggling of narcotics.
Canada's refugee determination system has come under severe criticism in recent years because of the ease with which claimants can enter the system, the generous treatment they receive once in it, the high rate of acceptance of claims and the considerable likelihood that they will never be forced to leave the country if their claim is rejected. This has made Canada a favorite target not only for bogus refugee claimants seeking better economic opportunities but also for criminals and terrorists.
While Canada has had a strong tradition of accepting refugees who are genuinely fleeing persecution as defined by the United Nations Convention on Refugees, there is growing concern on the part of the Canadian public over what is regarded as widespread abuse of the system. It is not only very costly but results in many people remaining in Canada who should not be here. This is seen as unfair to migrants who have come here legally, usually after a lengthy processing period, who may also suffer from being confused by the public with large numbers of illegal migrants coming from the same source countries. It is equally unfair to genuine refugees whose processing is delayed because the system is clogged with bogus cases. Other major problems are the opportunities available to criminals and terrorists to use the system to enter Canada as well as the problems created for the United States by large numbers of people gaining entry into Canada by making refugee claims in order to be smuggled across the border.
I a well as other critics of the present system have made a number of proposals to tighten up the system. Many of these are contained in a report issued two years ago by the Auditor General of Canada, who identified so many shortcomings that it cautioned against making patchwork changes and recommended a thorough review of the refugee process. Thus far, however, the government's response has been limited. A major obstacle in the way of instituting fundamental reforms is the existence of a highly articulate and influential lobby, comprised in large part of refugee lawyers and advocacy groups whose funding is closely related to the continued arrival and settlement of significant numbers of refugee claimants in Canada. A similar situation exists in the United States.
Specific recommendations to reform the refugee determination system include the following:
a) Given the very large numbers of persons arriving in Canada, the United States, Australia and many Western European countries without valid travel documents and without plausible grounds for seeking asylum, much wider use should be made of detention until it is determined that they have reasonable case for claiming refugee status or, alternatively, are deported. Experience to date indicates that this will substantially reduce the numbers trying to enter the country. Those who are really fleeing persecution are presumably prepared to put up with this inconvenience. While such detention will be not come without considerable expense, the long term social costs of letting in thousands of bogus refugee claimants, a large percentage of whom disappear if not kept in detention, will be much greater. Canada has shown some progress in this direction—although very limited. After most of those released from the first boatload of Chinese who arrived last summer disappeared, our authorities detained those from the second, third and fourth boats. Relatively few of the undocumented claimants arriving by air—and who, over time, enter the country in much larger numbers than the boat people—are detained, however.
b) Claimants entering the Canadian refugee determination system can be at present be assured of staying in the country for a considerable period of time as well as receiving free legal counsel, welfare payments and full access to the health care system. This extended stay has been made possible in large measure by a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada which conclude that Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (namely, that everyone is entitled to life, liberty and security) applies to everyone who has managed to set foot on our soil, and not just to Canadian citizens. It will be difficult to make fundamental reforms of the system unless this decision is revisited in some form or other. While there is also considerable scope for improving various aspects of the refugee determination system in the United States, Canada could benefit from the introduction of something similar to the U.S. Expedited Removal System, which allows for the quick deportation of those with manifestly unfounded claims. The average processing time for a claimant in Canada is now just under one year. The government's objective is to reduce it to six months by 2002. The Auditor General recommends reducing it to ten weeks.
c) Canada needs to review its application of the standards outlined in the U.N. Convention on Refugees. At present Canada accepts claims from many persons who are not fleeing persecution as defined by the UN Convention. Many have left their homeland because of civil wars or other conflicts and by UN standards require only temporary protection until they can return home. Still others have been granted refugee status for more personal reasons, such as having an abusive spouse. Canada, in fact, warned the UNHCR back in 1991 that stretching the definition of refugee would make so many people around the world eligible to claim status that the system would become unmanageable—to the particular disadvantage of those requiring protection from persecution. The United States has also stretched the definition well beyond the original intent of the UN Convention in some areas—although not to the same extent as Canada. The result is that many persons who visit the United States with the hope of staying permanently, but who do not meet U.S. refugee standards, simply travel to the Canadian border where they are almost automatically accepted into our determination system.
d) Substantial additional funding is required to make the Canadian system function more efficiently. As well as the resources required for increased detention more need to be applied to the interception of persons with questionable documents at airports abroad before they emplane for Canada. More resources should be used to track rejected claimants and have them removed as quickly as possible. The fact that Canada has one of poorest records for those who fail to get status is a major inducement for bogus claimants. Much if not all of the required funding can be realized from savings resulting from the speeding up of the refugee determination process.
e) Foreign-based terrorist organizations have been attracted to establishing themselves in Canada for a number of reasons. One of these is the fact that it is not only very easy to get into the refugee determination system in the first place but, unless there is very obvious adverse information available on an individual, no security check is usually made until a claim is accepted and application is made for landed immigrant status. A more stringent detention system combined with at least a preliminary security check would improve this situation. A much more effective and expeditious deportation regime, as recommended in the previous paragraph,-particularly in the case of those with connections to terrorist organizations—is also much needed.
f) A further circumstance that has attracted foreign terrorists to Canada has been the ease with which they can raise and transfer funds abroad. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are a particularly notable example of a group adept both at bringing large numbers of supporters into Canada through the refugee determination system and at fund raising. One encouraging development is that Canada appears about to sign a United Nations convention which will require our government to pass domestic legislation making it illegal to raise funds for terrorism.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Emerson. You will need to move the microphone down as you testify.
STATEMENT OF STEVEN EMERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TERRORISM NEWSWIRE
Mr. EMERSON. I am very impressed with your high-tech termination procedures here.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Before I begin my prepared comments, I would just like to take a moment to express my deepest appreciation to you for holding this hearing, and, equally important, for standing up to the orchestrated campaign to stop me from appearing this morning. Because of the investigative work I have carried out as a journalist and investigator in exposing the presence of militant Islamic fundamentalists and Middle Eastern terrorists in the United States, I have been the focus of a sustained campaign of defamation and even a threat to my life during the past 5 years. These threats have disrupted my life, but I continue to work in this area.
The aim of this campaign is to prevent me, as well as others, from speaking about the threat. The very success of these types of intimidation creates a chilling climate where free speech on this issue has become somewhat suppressed. Just as significantly, the tactics of these groups do a tremendous disservice to the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans who do not support violence or terrorism. Mr. Chairman, your refusal to allow these militants to suppress free speech is to be applauded and lauded.
Today the U.S. and Canada serve as the home for a wide spectrum of international terrorist groups as well as indigenous home-grown groups. Today's hearing focuses on the threat of international terrorism on American soil and the porous nature of U.S. borders.
It is important to point out that even though every single terrorist group in the world has established a presence here in the United States, the primary threat to international security stems from Middle East-based terrorist groups. The entire spectrum of Middle Eastern terrorist groups now operate on American soil, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Egyptian Al Gamat Al Islamiya, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Hamas.
In the last few years, the list of terrorists and militants allowed to enter the U.S. or granted green cards or citizenship is nothing less than staggering: Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the Egyptian Al Gamat and leader of one of the plots to bomb U.S. landmarks and bridges in New York; Musa Abu Marzook, a top Hamas figure; Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who served as a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa; Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and unindicted coconspirator in the World Trade Center bombing, who visited the U.S. multiple times for fund-raising and political recruitment without any knowledge of the INS; Lyman Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Al-Gihad organization, lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, and conspirator in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
There are no shortages of examples of the problems on American borders with Canada. Last fall, and there is some new information in what I am about to say, a stateless Mauritanian flew from Germany to Montreal. Within days before and after his visit to a group of Algerian nationals living in Montreal, several members of that group flew to Chechnya, another group traveled to Vancouver, and another headed for the Vermont border.
The Mauritanian, whose arrival in Montreal from Germany last fall appeared to trigger some of the movements of this cell, is still believed to be in Montreal. Germany had notified Canada of this man's departure and pending arrival in Montreal. U.S. authorities believe the Mauritanian was connected to the Al Qaeda organization, the terrorist group headed up by Osama bin Laden, and he had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he trained in camps operated by bin Laden.
At about the same time that the Mauritanian left Germany for Montreal to rendezvous with the Algerian terrorist cells, several other Islamic militants connected to bin Laden began activating another terrorist plot. Khalil Deek, a Palestinian who became a U.S. citizen in 1991, travelled from Peshawar, Pakistan, to Amman, Jordan, where he helped organize a terrorist plot to bomb tourist sites, including the Radisson hotel. In charges made public last week, the Jordanian prosecutors alleged that Deek conspired to carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan and had acquired explosives in furtherance of that conspiracy.
Deek was extradited from Pakistan to Jordan on December 17, 1999. He had served as a facilitator in the underground railroad operated by bin Laden, arranging the transport of terrorists and explosives. He had trained in a Camp near Khost, Afghanistan.
An accomplice of Deek in the same camp, a person by the name of Idris, was arrested by Pakistani authorities at the same time that Deek had been picked up.
Another person who is still wanted in connection with that plot is a person named Hejazzi, who has been living in Boston. His whereabouts today are not known.
Long before the arrests in Montreal of Algerian terrorists last December, Canada had witnessed its soil being used by foreign-based terrorists. Ward Elock, Director of CSIS, testified in testimony on January 1998, ''With perhaps the singular exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist groups active here than in any country in the world. The Counter-Terrorism Branch is currently investigating over 50 organizational targets and 350 individual terrorist targets.''
I have other information here about the degree to which Canada has served as a site for Hezbollah, the degree to which Hezbollah has been able to penetrate Canada and provide intelligence back to Iran on potential Canadian targets, and the degree to which Canada was used as a staging branch for other terrorist organizations.
I think it is important to point out that while Canada does get criticized, and I think appropriately, for some of its policies, its openness and its intellectual candor in acknowledging the degree to which terrorists have emplaced themselves in Canada is something that we should be applauding.
Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Emerson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Emerson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF STEVEN EMERSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TERRORISM NEWSWIRE
Good morning. Before I begin my prepared comments, I would like to take a moment to express my deepest appreciation to you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing, and, equally important, for standing up to the orchestrated campaign to stop me from appearing. Because of the investigative work I have carried out as a journalist and investigator in exposing the presence of militant Islamic fundamentalists and Middle Eastern terrorists in the United States (see attached bio), I have been the subject of a sustained campaign of vilification, defamation and even a threat to my life during the past five years by militant Islamic organizations operating as self-anointed representatives of the larger Muslim population, whom they decidedly do not represent. But without access to accurate information about my real background to correct the false claims being fabricated about me, some of those who receive this information are unfortunately subject to manipulation. In the end, the aim of this campaign is to prevent me, as well as others, from speaking and writing about the threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism on American soil, and thus prevent the public from being properly informed. The very success of these organizations and their supporters, fronting under the false veneer of being ''moderate'' and ''mainstream,'' in creating a chilling climate where free speech on this issue has been suppressed, has become a factor in allowing foreign terrorists to operate in the United States below the radar screen and thus avoid the scrutiny from either the media, public officials or law enforcement. Just as significantly, the tactics of various Islamic organizations do a tremendous disservice to the vast overwhelming majority of Muslim Americans who do not support violence or terrorism. Mr. Chairman, your refusal to allow these militants to suppress free speech is to be applauded and lauded.
Overview of international terrorist problem:
Thanks to the quick response of US Customs Agents to behavior deemed suspicious at the Canadian border in Port Angeles on December 14, 1999, Ahmed Ressam was caught trying to smuggle REX explosives. A wide-ranging investigation, unprecedented in its sweep and scope, succeeded in identifying and arresting other members of the hitherto unknown terrorist cell to which Ressam belonged. A plot to bomb and destroy targets in the United States, although still not publicly identified, had been narrowly averted.
Today the United States and Canada serve as the home for a wide spectrum of international terrorist groups as well as indigenous ''home-grown'' groups. Certainly, today's hearing focuses our attention on the threat of international terrorism on American soil and the porous nature of US borders. While virtually all foreign terrorist organizations from throughout the world, including Latin America and Asia, have set up infrastructures in the United States, the primary threat of international terrorism on American soil stems from Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, a fact that FBI and CIA officials have repeatedly testified to. These organizations have set up fundraising operations, political headquarters, military recruitment and sometimes even command and control centers. The entire spectrum of Middle Eastern and Islamic terrorist groups now operates on American soil, including Hamas, Hezbollah, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Egyptian Al Gamat Al Islamiya, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic Liberation Party, the PKK and Al-Qaeda, the organization of Osama bin Laden.
There are various reasons for the emergence of these groups in the United States, which include:
Ability to operate under our political radar screen
Ability to hide under mainstream religious identification
Loopholes in immigration procedures
Ease of penetration of borders
Limitations on FBI and other agencies performing law enforcement functions, including INS and Customs
More sophisticated compartmentalization of terrorist cells around loosely structured terrorist movements
Exploitation of freedoms of religion and speech
Absence of a vigilant media
Exploitation of non-profit fundraising prerogatives and lack of government scrutiny
Increasing cross fertilization and mutual support provided by members of different Islamic terrorist groups
Ease of availability of student visas from countries harboring or supporting terrorism
Failures by universities to keep track of foreign students and their spouses
Protection afforded by specially-created educational programs
Ease of visa fraud and the invention of false credentials, from passports, drivers licenses, credit cards and social security numbers
Blowback from the anti-Soviet mujihadeen that the US supported in Afghanistan.
Despite passage of the anti-terrorism bill and a realization by law enforcement since the World Trade Center bombing that the threat of Middle Eastern terrorism had become part of the US and Canadian landscapes, militants and terrorists continue to use both countries as a base of operations. As water seeking its own level, terrorists will gravitate to those areas that give them the greatest freedom to maneuver. Unless choked off and stopped along the different points of entry's ranging from the visa granting process overseas to the hundreds of unmanned border crossing points between Canada and the United States—terrorists will continue to come to the United States. The list of major international terrorists and militants allowed to enter the United States in recent years or actually granted green cards and citizenship is nothing less than staggering.
Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the Egyptian Al Gamat Al Islamiya, and convicted leader of an interdicted plot to bomb US landmarks, bridges and tunnels in New York
Musa Abu Marzook, one of the top three officials of Hamas (who founded and operated a ''think tank'' in Chicago and Virginia
Ali Mohammed, a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden (and not insignificantly, enrolled as a Special Forces sergeant at Fort Bragg)
Wadih el Hage, secretary to Osama bin Laden
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (who served as a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa)
Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing (who visited the United States multiple times for fundraising and political recruitment without any knowledge of the INS)
Ayman Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Al-Gihad organization, lieutenant to Osama bin Laden and conspirator in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat
Rashhid Ghannoushi, head of the Tunisian Al-Nahdah
Anwar Haddam, a leader of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)
Leith Shbeilat, a militant Islamic leader implicated in an assassination plot against Jordan's King Hussein
Khalid Mishal, a top leader of Hamas, who, in his speeches in the United States, has called for stabbings
Kamal Hilbawi, a spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, who has called for attacks on American targets and who has encouraged carrying out of suicide bombings
Yusef Al Qaradawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and active supporter of Hamas and other violent groups, who has called for suicide bombings and taking over the United States
Qazi Hussein Ahmed, leader of Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami, a militant group that supports violent ''jihad'' or holy war
Ramzi Yousef, the top organizer of the World Trade Center bombing
Sheikh Abdulmunem Abu Zant, a militant Jordanian Islamic cleric, who has routinely called for violence
Ishaq Al-Farhan, a leader of the militant Islamic Jordan Action Front who has issued numerous exhortations to carry out violence
Wagdi Ghuniem, a militant Islamic cleric from Egypt, who has called for jihad against Jews and other ''enemies of Islam.'' (Curiously, on one of his recent visits to the United States, Ghuniem was barred from entering Canada because of his terrorist affiliations and sent back to the United States, where he continued his tour exhorting Islamic groups to carry out violence.)
Loopholes and weaknesses of immigration controls:
Foreign nationals who are terrorist operatives routinely utilize false identity documents to illegally enter the US and/or remain here once they have entered. There are no shortages of examples in this regard—the recent Washington State and Vermont arrests clearly show this. The ability of Islamic Jihad leader Abdel Aziz Odeh to have entered the US numerous times, without leaving a record under his real name, is yet another example. Ghazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer and Lafi Khalil were arrested on July 31, 1997 in a Brooklyn apartment by police officers from the New York City Police Department, based on a tip that people in the apartment were intending to bomb the New York subway system. The arrests narrowly averted a series of bombings that could have killed hundreds of commuters. After the arrests, police determined that Mezer and Khalil were in the United States illegally. Mezer was apprehended three times by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the thirteen months prior to the arrest in New York for attempting to illegally enter the United States from Canada. At the time of arrest, the INS had begun formal deportation proceedings against him, but he was free on bail and had filed a request for political asylum based on his fear that the Israeli government would arrest him for membership in Hamas. False documents are as important to terrorists and their organizations as their guns and bombs—they are tools that help them ply their international trade of death and destruction.
In addition to false documents, alien terrorists and their support operatives frequently engage in immigration benefit fraud. One of the most glaring examples would be asylum fraud. All one has to do is show up at a US port of entry, even without documents, utter the two magic words ''political asylum,'' have any moderately truthful sounding story and one is likely to be processed in—at least temporarily. The tightening of the asylum process over the past couple of years has helped—but, be a fraudulent asylum claimant showing up at a very busy Point of Entry such as JFK Airport or Miami International Airport—and you are likely to remain in detention for only a short time before you are paroled out to (hopefully) appear at a later hearing! If a name (real or false) does not appear in any of the lookout systems and the applicant merely has an alleged ''friend'' to stay with in the US, then parole from detention is most likely. Of course, it goes without saying, terrorist aliens so released seldom show up again—and the INS, because of serious manpower shortages and conflicting priorities, rarely pursues such absconders. Of course, any number of other immigration fraud schemes abound—marriage fraud, other familial relation fraud, naturalization fraud, work visa fraud (H–1 and L–1 and ''E'' status—as used by Islamic Jihad officials Ramadan Abdullah Shallah and Bashir Nafi), investor fraud and religious worker fraud.
Smuggling of alien terrorist operatives—apart from the noted utilization of false documents: alien terrorists use established alien smuggling pipelines across both the US–Mexico and US–Canada border. Maritime smuggling along the coasts, particularly via the Caribbean as well as East and West Coast seaports, occurs. How easy can it be for a terrorist operative to bribe his/her way onto a freighter destined to a busy US seaport, and simply be hidden aboard the vessel until Customs and INS have done their routine inspections, then to simply disembark the vessel?
The issue of classified evidence in immigration proceedings is now under assault by editorialists in the media and from some members of Congress. What they forget is that these proceedings are administrative in nature—not criminal—and such evidence, in spite of all the recent hoopla, is only rarely and very selectively utilized. Deportation proceedings ultimately result in a person being removed from the US—not sentenced to prison (as in criminal proceedings)—even though aliens may be detained while those proceedings go forward. As such, it should be remembered that aliens detained hold their own cell keys ''all they have to is simply agree to be deported and they can be free—just not in the US. Moreover, Congress itself approved of the Classified Information Procedures Act, in which classified information can be introduced in criminal trials without releasing this information to the defendant.
Unfortunately, too many senior INS managers do not recognize the critically important role INS enforcement branches, particularly the Investigations Division, can and should play in the counter-terrorism and national security arena. These are officials at both the HQ and field levels. INS has but a small contingent of agents dedicated to this work—and, often those do not receive the recognition and support from higher management they should. INS should have at least a hundred field agents assigned to these missions—at least the same it has assigned to Organized Crime Drug Task Force efforts—but in fact INS has less than half that assigned to counter-terrorist efforts in the field. I have been told that it is not unusual for very senior INS officials—especially at headquarters (who should know otherwise), when the topic of counter-terrorism arises in senior staff meetings, to state, ''that's the FBI's responsibility'' and ''what does INS have to do with that!'' Certain key, senior INS managers fail to even understand and recognize the very statutes within the Immigration and Nationality Act they are charged with enforcing!
New information on the Algerian and Jordanian terrorist plots:
Last fall, a stateless Mauritanian flew from Germany to Montreal. Within days before and after his visit to a group of Algerian nationals living in Montreal, several members of that group flew to Chechnya; another group traveled to Vancouver and another headed for the Vermont border.
According to a superceding federal indictment released last week, Ressam and a still fugitive accomplice Abdelmajid Dahoumane plotted '' to destroy or damage structures, conveyances or other real or personal property within the United States.'' The plot, which stretches back to at least 1998, according to federal authorities, called for compartmentalized cells to be activated in the United States. No one cell would know about the others, in the event that any of the participants got arrested. Members of another cell belonging to the same group and entering the United States through Vermont border crossings were to rendezvous in a still undisclosed location in the northeast. Ressam was to be met in Seattle by a Brooklyn based Algerian Abdel Ghani Meskini. While Ressam had planned to fly to London after leaving the explosives laden car for someone else to pick up, Meskini was to fly from Seattle to Chicago to help secure additional funding for the Islamic terrorist group. Telephone toll records, released by prosecutors, show that the Seattle cell was in contact with the Vermont-based cell through third party numbers.
The Mauritanian, whose arrival in Montreal from Germany last fall appeared to trigger some of the movements of the cell, is still believed to be in Montreal. Germany had notified Canada of this man's departure from Germany and pending arrival in Montreal. US authorities believe the Mauritanian was connected to the Al Qaeda organization, the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden and had been to Pakistan and Afghanistan where he trained in camps operated by bin Laden.
At about the same time that the Mauritanian left Germany for Montreal to rendezvous with the Algerian terrorist cells, several other Islamic militants connected to bin Laden began activating another terrorist plot. Khalil Deek, a Palestinian who became a US citizen in 1991, traveled from Peshawar, Pakistan to Amman, Jordan, where he helped organize a terrorist plot to bomb tourist sites, including the Radisson hotel. In charges made public last week, Jordanian prosecutors alleged that Deek conspired to carry out terrorist attacks in Jordan and had acquired explosives in furtherance of that conspiracy. A dozen Jordanians and an Iraqi and Algerian were arrested by Jordanian authorities in the first week of December as being members of that same conspiracy. Deek had been extradited from Pakistan to Jordan on December 17, 1999. Deek served as facilitator in the underground railroad operated by bin Laden, arranging the transport of terrorists and explosives.
According to intelligence sources, Deek trained in a bin Laden camp near Khost, Afghanistan. An accomplice of Deek in the same bin Laden camp, a person by the name of Idris, was arrested by Pakistani authorities at the same time that Deek had been picked up. Another terrorist colleague of Deek, a Palestinian who goes by the name Abu Zubeida, escaped arrest as did another suspected conspirator in the Jordanian plot, a man named Hejazzi. Hejazzi traveled on an American passport and had previously driven a taxi in the Boston metropolitan area. He had rented a house in Amman where he stored a vast amount of explosives. Hejazzi's whereabouts are unknown today. US authorities believe that he was connected to other members of terrorist cells still active in the United States. That he was able to acquire a US passport and use of the US as a base of operations only further illustrates the problem we face.
Hejazzi's accomplice, Deek, who had lived in Anaheim, California, is the focus of a still unraveling US investigation. US authorities acquired his computer disks and are now studying them. Although Deek's brother told a reporter last week that he (Khalil Deek) had left the United States in March 1997, federal authorities believe that he may have been in the United States as recently as September 1999—although they are not certain at this moment as they try to reconstruct his movements. But authorities have determined that while he lived in the United States, he was involved in wiring transactions of sums totaling tens of thousands of dollars to overseas destinations. Interestingly, Deek made the transactions not from Anaheim, where he lived and worked, but rather from Chicago, where he flew multiple times en route to Pakistan. Deek was also associated with a Californian registered Islamic non-profit charity called Charity Without Borders, whose existence was disclosed last week. As also disclosed, Deek's brother, Tawfeeq, has been involved with the Islamic Association for Palestine, described by former FBI official Oliver Revell as a ''front group'' for Hamas, and has allowed his mosque to host fundraisers for the Holy Land Fund for Relief and Development, a non-profit fundraising organization that has been linked to Hamas, with offices in Texas, Illinois and New Jersey.
Although the President's Executive Order of January 1995—and renewed again several days ago—orders the seizure of assets belonging to terrorist groups, and the 1996 anti-terrorist legislation similarly ordered the freezing of terrorist assets of some 30 groups, very little money has actually been seized. With the primary exception of funds belonging to Musa Marzook, the head of the Hamas politburo who was deported in 1997, the US Government has not designated terrorist affiliates in the United States.
The problem, of course, is that terrorists don't openly raise funds for explosives or guns but rather for ''humanitarian'' purposes, such as education or for orphans.
The use of Canada by terrorists: Details of Hezbollah's modus operandi:
Long before the arrests in Montreal of Algerian terrorists last December, Canada had witnessed its soil being used by foreign based terrorists. As stated by Ward Elock, Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, on January 24, 1998, in testimony delivered to the Special Committee of the Senate on Security and Intelligence, ''With perhaps the singular exception of the United States, there are more international terrorist groups active here in than in any country in the world. The Counter-Terrorism Branch is currently investigating over 50 organizational targets and 350 individual terrorist targets—By way of example, the following terrorist groups acting on behalf have been and are active in Canada: Hezbollah and other Shiite Islamic terrorist organizations; several Sunni Islamic Extremist groups, including Hamas, with ties to Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Lebanon and Iran; the Provisional IRA; the Tamil Tigers; the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK); and all of the world's major Sikh terrorist groups.''
Hezbollah in Canada:
Hezbollah has been particularly active in both Canada and the United States. One of those arrested in Canada was Mohammed Hussein al-Husseini, arrested in March 1997. In seeking to deport al-Husseini, who arrived in Canada in 1991 without travel documents and who was immediately granted refugee status based on his fear of prosecution in Lebanon, Canadian authorities filed an extensive memo in 1993 detailing his involvement with Hezbollah. In interviews conducted by Canadian authorities, al-Husseini admitted that he was a member of Hezbollah and ''provided information, which revealed a great deal of knowledge of the inner workings of Hezbollah, including names and positions of Hezbollah officials.'' And when asked about the existence of Hezbollah in Montreal, he stated flatly, ''Yes Hezbollah has members in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto—in all of Canada.'' Al-Husseini provided extensive material on the modus operandi of Hezbollah, from the tasking of its missions in Iran to the support it has enlisted in specific Canadian Islamic centers. One of the most interesting pieces of information he provided was that video of potential Canadian targets was taken by Hezbollah members in Canada and sent back to Hezbollah headquarters in Lebanon for contingency planning in the event that Hezbollah would want to target Canada.
After being granted refugee status, al-Husseini flew back to Lebanon in August 1993—and returned to Canada in early September 1993, this time with a new Lebanese passport, which revealed a US visa issued to him in Montreal on May 20, 1993. An entry stamp to the United States was dated September 1, 1993.
In 1997, Canada charged two Saudi-born men who had entered Canada the previous year with being members of Islamic terrorist organizations. One of them was Hani Al-Sayegh, accused of being a member of the Saudi branch of Hezbollah and being an active participant in the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996 that killed 19 Americans. Al-Sayegh arrived in Canada on August 16, 1996 from Kuwait. But he first traveled to Italy and then to Boston, where according to US intelligence officials, he made contact with members of an Islamic terrorist group. From Boston, he went to Canada. According to documents filed by Canadian authorities, ''conducted surveillance at the site of the [Khobar] bombing. On the day of the bombing, he was the driver of the car which signaled the explosives-laden truck to enter the parking lot.'' After entering into a plea agreement with the US Department of Justice, Al-Sayegh agreed to be extradited to the United States, where he was to plead guilty to a charge of conspiring to kill US nationals in exchange for a ten-year sentence. But after arriving in the United States, Aal-Sayegh withdrew his plea agreement and in the absence of admissible corroborative evidence, the Department of Justice was forced to withdraw its charges. Al-Sayegh was subsequently deported to Saudi Arabia.
Canadian authorities have been courageously open about the degree to which their country has become a base of operations for terrorists. I think this openness should be lauded for it helps provide the public with the necessary information to evaluate policy decisions. While certain components of Canadian policies, such as the ease in which terrorists have entered Canada in recent years, are glaring in their absence of proper oversight, the willingness of Canadian intelligence and law enforcement to publicly acknowledge the problem on Canadian soil should be applauded.
The most recent report, Terrorism 2000/2001, by the Canadian Intelligence Security Service on December 18, 1999, and which can be read on the Internet makes for very instructive and important reading. I have cited three sections in particular:
34. For a number of reasons, Canada is an attractive venue for terrorists. Long borders and coastlines offer many points of entry, which can facilitate movement to and from various sites around the world, particularly the United States. As a wealthy industrial society, Canada is an excellent location in which to raise money in the name of causes abroad. The nation accepts large numbers of immigrants and refugees, and consequently has significant émigré communities, which can be a source of haven and support.
35. Many of the world's terrorist groups have a presence in Canada, where they engage in a variety of activities in support of terrorism, including:
logistical support for offshore terrorism through efforts to obtain weapons and equipment to be shipped abroad, such as electrical detonators for explosives, or remote-control devices that can be adapted for use in the remote detonation of bombs. In one case, a Canadian was involved in an attempt to purchase a Stinger missile for PIRA;
attempts to establish an operational support base in Canada, to enable groups to send in hit teams for attacks on targets of opportunity;
fundraising, advocacy, propaganda. For example, not long ago members of the Kurdish PKK tried to enter Canada illegally to carry out a leadership, propaganda and fundraising role;
intimidation and manipulation of Canadian citizens in émigré communities to support activities for homeland issues;
a safe haven for terrorists. The recent case of the Saudi Arabian, Hani al-Sayegh, implicated in the Al Khobar bombing, provides one example of this trend;
use of Canada as a base to arrange and direct terrorist activities in other countries. This is a particular problem with some members of Sikh terrorist groups whose leaders continue to endeavor to use Canada as their headquarters; and
raising money through illegal activities. Tamil Tiger supporters have been accused of raising money through intimidation and the manufacture and sale of false passports and documentation.
36. Authorities have been reasonably successful in thwarting the growth of right-wing extremism across the North American continent, but the activities of some groups continue to pose a substantial threat. The Militia Movement, for example, while not established in Canada, has endeavored to expand northward—a cache of weapons and equipment belonging to an American group was discovered in British Columbia.
Think tanks as a conduit for visa issuance: A case study of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR):
The United States is full of educational institutes and think tanks that issue visas to foreign individuals in order to have them work for these institutes. This process has not evaded the sphere of those groups which pursue radical and extremist agendas and that serve as apparatuses for foreign terrorist organizations abroad. The utilization of these institutes allows radicals, terrorists and militant activists from abroad to enter the United States with little or no monitoring by the federal government. Two prime examples of this method are the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a now-defunct Islamic think tank based in Tampa, Florida with alleged ties to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization; and the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), a fully operational Islamic think tank based in Springfield, Virginia, against which have been levied claims of providing a headquarters for Hamas operatives in the United States.
WISE and ICP:
''Yes for Jihad in the name of Allah, yes for Islam, yes for the Intifadah. We're going toward the future that Allah promised us. Allah is one. Mohammad is the leader. The Koran is our constitution. Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel.'' (Translated from Arabic)
It would be understandable if one assumed that the statements above were taken from a rally or speech in the Middle East; however, this was the conclusion to a speech that took place in the heartland of America: Chicago, Illinois on September 29, 1991. The speaker was Dr. Sami al-Arian, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa. In addition to his professorial role, al-Arian was the president of a Palestinian charity organization known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), the organization that sponsored the Chicago rally, and the incorporating ''chairman of the board'' of an Islamic research organization known as the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). Both of these organizations ceased to exist after 1995 due to the ascension of one of their leadership alumni, Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, to the role of Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad based in Damascus, Syria.
The Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP) and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) were two organizations defined by Special INS Agent William West as ''fronts for the purpose of fund-raising activities for the Islamic Jihad and the Hamas terrorist organizations and—also engage in other support-type activities, primarily to allow for the perceptually legitimate entry of foreign nationals, aliens into the United States who are leaders and/or operatives of the Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other terrorist organizations.'' WISE was incorporated in Tampa, Florida in 1991. At that time, the institute's executive director was Dr. Khalil Shikaki, the brother of then- Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Dr. Fathi Shikaki. ICP was incorporated in 1988 and was headed by Dr. al-Arian personally.
Under the auspices of WISE, al-Arian arranged for entry visas into the United States for the primary leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization hierarchy. Among these were Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the current head of the Islamic Jihad in Damascus; and Dr. Bashir Nafi. In late October 1995, Shallah was appointed the new Secretary General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to succeed Dr. Fathi Shikaki, who had been assassinated days earlier in Malta. Nafi, whose visa applications stated that he was Director of Research for WISE, appeared at a conference in Lebanon, in October 1994, of Islamic and opposition leaders opposed to the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, alongside Dr. Fathi Shikaki. Nafi was deported from the United States in 1996, following Shallah's ascension to the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and based on his violation of the stipulations of his visa which dictated that he would be working at WISE in Tampa. In 1996, Nafi was working at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Herndon, Virginia. As a side note, a letter written by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to the University of South Florida indicated that this institute, IIIT, was the primary funder of WISE.
In addition to these individuals, al-Arian's ICP played host to other radicals from around the world, gathered at conferences sponsored by the ICP in St. Louis, Missouri in 1988 and in Chicago, Illinois from 1989 until 1992. The other radicals appearing at these conferences included Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad; Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his spiritual role in a plot to blow up various landmarks and bridges in the New York City area in 1993; Sheikh Rashhid Ghannoushi, the leader of the Tunisian Al-Nahdah Movement, who was exiled from Tunisia in 1989 after being found guilty of conspiring to carry out violence against the Tunisian regime; Leith Shbeilat, a militant Islamic opposition figure in Jordan, who has been in and out of prison in Jordan for his role in incitement of riots against the Jordanian government and whose name now appears on the website for the Jordanian Association Against Zionism and Racism; Anwar Haddam, spokesperson for the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), who is currently appealing a deportation order in the United States for his ties to terrorist activities; and Sheikh Saeed Sha'aban, the leader of Lebanese Tawheed Movement, who passed away in 1999.
In 1992, in a further attempt to legitimize its activities, WISE (represented by Ramadan Abdullah Shallah) signed a cooperative agreement with the Committee for Middle East Studies at the University of South Florida in Tampa. As a joint event with the university, WISE invited Rashhid Ghannoushi, whose radical ties have been discussed earlier, to speak at a roundtable symposium at the university. When the Department of State refused to grant a visa to Ghannoushi, WISE (primarily Sami al-Arian) petitioned the State Department for Ghannoushi's admission, but was denied. It is clear through these efforts that WISE, through its legitimizing agreement with USF, attempted to, as Special Agent William West stated, ''allow for the perceptually legitimate entry of foreign nationals, aliens into the United States who are leaders and/or operatives of the Islamic Jihad, the Hamas and other terrorist organizations.''
Since 1995, WISE and Dr. al-Arian have been the subjects of a federal investigation in Tampa to determine their role as a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. As stated in West's November 1995 Affidavit:
Based upon the facts and information that I have set forth in the instant affidavit, I have probable cause to believe that ICP and WISE were utilized by Sami Al-Arian and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah as ''fronts'' in order to enable individuals to enter the United States, in an apparent lawful fashion, despite the fact that these individuals were international terrorists. Among the unlawful methods employed by these terrorist organizations are the apparent lawful procurement and use of visas and other documents relating to immigration which enables terrorists and other excludable aliens to gain entry into the United States through false statements, misrepresentations, and other forms of fraud.
This statement encapsulates the problems associated with current visa issuance guidelines. By providing an organizational structure to host undesirable individuals, Dr. al-Arian and others at WISE and other similar organizations are able to exploit the law to their advantage to further their illegal goals.
Musa Abu Marzook and UASR:
The United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), an Islamic think tank now based in Springfield, Virginia, was founded in 1989 in Chicago, Illinois by a number of prominent Islamic radials living in the US, primary among whom was Musa Abu Marzook.
Musa Abu Marzook, a.k.a. Abu Omar, was the head of the Hamas Political Bureau since 1988, while he was resident in the United States. Hamas (Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia fi Filastin—The Islamic Resistance Movement in Palestine) is one of the most militant Islamic groups in the world and is included in the United States Department of State's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations that are outlawed pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Hamas has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombing attacks within Israel resulting in the deaths of scores of innocent Israelis.
On July 27, 1995, Marzook was arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport because ''he played an important role in supervising the activities of the military wing to Hamas [the wing responsible for the terrorist attacks] and in appointing individuals to important leadership roles in the military wing.'' In the United States, Abu Marzook was ''responsible for the Muslim Brothers organization in the U.S. and resigned from this job in order to devote his time to activities dedicated to Palestine'' following the foundation of the Hamas. Marzook, who was born in the Gaza Strip, was a close associate of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the Islamic cleric who founded Hamas as an organization distinct from its parent group Muslim Brotherhood.
Marzook first came to the United States in the late 1970s, although immigration records show that he formally began residing in the United States starting in 1981. Marzook and his family lived in a number of locations during their 14 years in the United States, including Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia. He and his family moved to Falls Church, Virginia in 1991.
Between 1993 and 1995, Marzook resided principally in Jordan, which deported him in June 1995 for his involvement and senior position in Hamas. In July 1995, after making trips to Iran and Syria, Abu Marzook attempted to reenter the United States at which time he was arrested by customs and INS officials at the request of the Israeli government which sought to prosecute Abu Marzook for numerous crimes in connection with his leadership role in Hamas. In October 1995, acting at the request of the Israeli government, the United States initiated extradition proceedings against Abu Marzook based on pending Israeli criminal charges that included murder, attempted murder and conspiracy stemming from Hamas-sponsored terrorist acts.
At the time of his arrest, Abu Marzook was a permanent resident alien of the United States. In 1990, he and his family received their Green Cards in an INS lottery that offered ''permanent legal residency'' to potential immigrants. In affidavits filed by Deputy United States Attorney Shirah Neiman, the role of Abu Marzook in Hamas activities was discussed as follows:
In his role as head of political bureau, Abu Marzook financed certain activities of Hamas, including terrorist activities against soldiers and civilians in the Territories and Israel. In addition, he played an important role in supervising the activities of the military wing to Hamas (the wing responsible for the terrorist attacks) and in appointing individuals to important leadership roles in the military wing. Throughout most of the relevant period, he resided in the United States.
The arrest of Mohamad Salah, Mohamad Jarad and Nasser Hidmi by the Israeli authorities marked an important turning point into the investigation of Hamas. What was revealed as a result of interrogations and confessions of these individuals (Salah and Jarad were both residents of Chicago, Illinois, and Hidmi was a student at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas) was the importance of the United States as an operational base for Hamas. Under the leadership of Musa Abu Marzook, the Hamas headquarters in the United States was able to operate virtually unimpeded from the intense scrutiny of authorities.
On January 25, 1993, Salah and Jarad, two high ranking Hamas operatives with United States citizenship, were arrested by the Israeli General Security Services (GSS) with aid of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The Israeli authorities obtained the most significant information against Musa Abu Marzook from Salah, a.k.a ''Abu Ahmad.'' In these statements, Salah exposed the pivotal role of Musa Abu Marzook in the Hamas organization. Musa Abu Marzook directed the Hamas organization's activities, the allocation of its resources and the transfer of funds: ''Abu Marzook specifically directed funds towards Hamas' 'military' (i.e. terror) activities, encouraged acts of terror, and played an important role in overseeing certain 'military' aspects of 'Hamas' operations and in making 'military.' ''
On October 10, 1994, Abu Marzook appeared in a television interview broadcast from the ''Al Manar'' television station in Lebanon. This was only one day after the October 9, 1994 shootings in which two Hamas terrorists killed two and wounded eighteen persons in a suicide attack on pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem. In interview Marzook stated as follows:
''Death is the goal to every Muslim and every fighter wants to die on Palestinian land. This is not the first time that the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassem heroes carry out suicide and terrorism actions.
''The peace process, as described by Arafat more than once, is a failure. By these actions, we do not strive to foil the talks and the negotiations. We are doing them for a much higher aim and they are steps on the way for a full restitution of the rights of the Palestinian people.''
The succeeding passages of the interview put to rest any doubt and made clear that Marzook was providing endorsement for the violent attacks carried out by Hamas:
Q: what about the assessments that one of those killed is a Palestinian policeman?
A: We believe that one day the entire Palestinian police will join the ranks of its people and join the fight against the enemy..
Q: Christopher denounced the action and called to Arafat to denounce it and prevent similar actions in the future. We also saw that Faisal Al-Huseini also denounced the action. What are your expectations as regards Arafat's reaction to Christopher's instructions?
A: Arafat promised to stop the attacks since the signing of the Cairo Agreement and he said that they were obliged to do their best to do so. Arafat has no connection with this kind of activity and he cannot prevent it. the Hamas movement has been expressing its opposition and rejection of the agreement for a long time, and explained that it will continue according to the principle of the Jihad and God's instructions and will stick to its stand.
On October 18, 1994, Abu Marzook was interviewed by the Lebanese Ad-Dyiar newspaper. At the beginning of the interview, the writer states that ''Ad-Dyiar interviewed Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, head of the Political Bureau of the Movement, who arrived in Lebanon in order to take part in the Islamic National Congress and in order to meet with Lebanese leaders.'' In the course of this interview, Abu Marzook was asked if he could speak about the operations of the Movement. This was Marzook's answer:
The operations reflect the Jihad (Holy War) policy of the Movement in confronting the Zionist enemy . . . We fulfill our hope by way of Shahadah (martyrdom) . . . We will continue this line of Jihad until we realize this right.
Marzook also stated:
The jihad brings honor to all Muslims. Until Jerusalem is freed and Palestine is returned to its owners. This is the basis for the participation of the young Egyptian in the recent East Jerusalem action.
In an interview dated October 14, 1994, in Al-Ahed, Abu Marzook referred to himself as the ''head of the Political Bureau of the Hamas Movement'' and stated in response to the question ''is it possible the Hamas Movement has decided to take steps in martyrdom missions in order to fight the occupation'':
Martyrdom is the goal of every Muslim and death is the highest hope of that holy fighter on the land of Palestine. This was not the first martyrdom mission which the heroes of Al-Qassam have undertaken, it is rather continuing missions.
With this description of the founder of the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR), it is also instructive to describe the activities of that organization prior to exploring its usage in the visa issuance sphere. Another member of the ''inner circle'' of UASR alongside Abu Marzook, and who has served as the Executive Director of the institute since it moved to Virginia in 1991, is Ahmed Bin Yousef, aka Yousef Salah.
A popular UASR volume by Ahmed Bin Yousef is a tribute to Hamas founder and leader Ahmed Yassin entitled Ahmed Yassin: The Phenomenon, the Miracle, and the Legend of the Challenge [UASR, 1990]. It contains odes of praise and letters extolling the imminent victory of Hamas over the Jews, such as this letter from a Hamas activist in Chicago to the Hamas fighters in Palestine: ''Greetings to you from here in America, from over the seas, that you may know that we are your sons of the era, the era of Allah, the era of Islam, the era of Palestine, the era of Jihad, the era of Hamas, until complete liberation of all Palestine from the river to the sea!''
According to a February 17, 1993 New York Times article written by journalist Judith Miller, who had observed Israeli interrogation sessions, Mohammed Abdel Hamid Salah, a Hamas terrorist convicted by an Israeli court, confessed that ''the political command of Hamas in the United States is at the United Association for Studies and Research in Springfield, Virginia. He [Salah] identified the Hamas leader in the United States as the head of the institute, Ahmad Yousef [sic], a writer whose code name he said was Abu Ahmed. He [Salah] also said that Musa Abu Marzouk [sic], known as Abu Omar, 51, of Arlington, Virginia, was the political chief. . . .''
According to Ronni Shaked, an Israeli journalist and former member of the Israeli security establishment, in his book entitled Hamas: From Belief in Allah to the Road of Terror, Ahmed Bin Yousef is named as the person ''in charge of all Hamas activities.''
In a pamphlet called Hamas: Background of Its Inception and Horizons of Its March , Ahmed Bin Yousef wrote that Hamas represents a ''conflict between Islamic thought and Western thought and . . . a conflict of existence and destiny between the Jewish capitalist alliance and the Muslim people in Palestine.''
Under the auspices of this organization with clear ties to the Hamas movement in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, work visas have been issued for foreign individuals with determinable links to the Hamas movement.
According to an Affidavit by Ephraim Rabin of Israel's General Security Service, Nasser Al- Khatib returned to the United States in 1994 to work for UASR. In an Affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Robert Wright on June 8, 1998 (pursuant to a civil forfeiture case presented in Chicago, Illinois, against the property of individuals suspected of providing financial support for the terrorist activities of Hamas within the State of Israel), Mr. Wright characterized Al-Khatib as follows:
53. FBI review of bank records also show that during the same period, Nasser Al-Khatib (''Al-Khatib''), a United States-based supporter and financial backer of HAMAS and close associate of Abu Marzook, wire transferred additional funds into Salah controlled accounts in Chicago. In an interview with the FBI in March of 1994, Al-Khatib acknowledged being a supporter of HAMAS and that he donated money to HAMAS causes. Al-Khatib further related that prior to leaving the United States in June of 1993, he was an employee of Abu Marzook, serving essentially as Abu Marzook's personal secretary. In that capacity, Al-Khatib explained, he had access to and was a signatory to some of Abu Marzook's financial accounts, and that he had made financial transactions on Abu Marzook's behalf. (The footnote to this reads: Al-Khatib had previously written a check to Salah on August 21, 1992, immediately prior to Salah's trip to Israel during which he gave money to Salah Al-Arouri for the purchase of arms for HAMAS military operations See Para. 15–20. . . .)
According to published reports, there has been an ongoing grand jury investigation in New York to explore the activities of Hamas within the United States. This grand jury investigation was apparently precipitated by the extradition trial of Musa Abu Marzook and the arrest and conviction in Israel of Mohammed Abdel Hamid Salah (who was released by Israel in 1997 after being imprisoned since 1993). Pursuant to this grand jury investigation, Mr. Abdelhalim Al-Ashkar was called before the grand jury in the spring of 1998. Al-Ashkar was held in contempt after refusing to answer the questions posed by the grand jury and was afterwards incarcerated. He was subsequently let out of prison after it became clear that he would not change his mind about testifying.
According to the April 2, 1998 edition of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Risala (which is controlled by the Hamas movement in Gaza), Al-Ashkar was a Research Associate at UASR at the time that he was called before the grand jury to testify.
Prior to moving to the United States, Al-Ashkar had served as head of Public Relations at the Islamic University in Gaza for a period of about eight years. According to documents submitted in the Abu Marzook extradition proceedings, this University was founded by, among others, Abu Marzook and Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (about whom UASR has written extensively).
Al-Ashkar came to the United States pursuing post-graduate studies at the University of Mississippi where he founded the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund in the United States. According the April 2, 1998 Al-Risala article, this fund ''chooses, indiscriminately, several needy students from the families of martyrs or detainees and provides them with financial support in the form of tuition, registration and admission to the university.'' Intelligence sources have verified that the Al-Aqsa Educational Fund is tied to the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Germany which was deemed illegal in Israel for its connections with Hamas.
Islamic militants on the lecture circuit in the United States:
''The Jews distort words from their meanings . . . they killed the prophets and worshipped idols . . . Allah says he who equips a warrior of Jihad is like the one who makes Jihad himself.'' In Arabic, Wagdi Ghuniem, a militant Islamic cleric from Egypt, mesmerized his audience, with his relentless tirade against the Jews, reminding them of the Jews' ''infidelity,'' ''stealth'' and ''deceit.'' Known for his folksy deliveries and exhortations to commit violence against the Jews, Ghuniem did not disappoint his crowd, several of whom had come just to hear him. The conflict with the Jews, he said, was not over land but one of religion. ''The problem of Palestine is not a problem of belief . . . suppose the Jews said 'Palestine—you [Muslims] can take it.' Would it then be ok? What would we tell them? No! The problem is belief, it is not a problem of land.''
Ghuniem then led his rapt audience, which numbered as many as 500, in a special song, the audience responsively repeating each refrain:
No to the Jews
Descendants of the Apes
We Vow to Return
Despite the Obstacles
The administrators of Brooklyn College would probably have been surprised to learn that their campus was the site of an incendiary rally more similar to those held in Gaza than those held in the United States. On May 24, 1998, a special all-day program was held in the Walt Whitman Auditorium of Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. Organized by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), an American-headquartered front group for Hamas, the program was entitled ''Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation.'' Eleven Islamic organizations co-sponsored the event, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and the Islamic Circle of North America. To the outside world, this conference probably seemed like one of the many seminars held on campus. Conducted almost entirely in Arabic, the conference featured Islamic speakers from the United States and abroad.
Ghuniem has traveled to the US on a regular basis, giving lectures in large and small venues. In 1997 and 1998, Ghuniem appeared at the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) (an Islamic group that supports the positions of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas in the United States) and IAP conferences, as well as at smaller events in local mosques and Islamic centers across the United States and Canada. Part of his popularity may stem from the fact that he speaks in a local rural Egyptian dialect and peppers his talks with humorous anecdotes. His rhetoric espouses a deep hatred for Jews. He often praises terrorists and terrorist attacks.
Interestingly, Sheik Ghuniem was denied entry to Canada in early January 1998 and detained as he tried to enter Windsor from Detroit. Ghuniem was on a whirlwind US-Canada lecture circuit, with scheduled stops in Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, Detroit, San Diego, D.C., Toronto and Montreal. But the trip was rudely interrupted, if only temporarily, at the Canadian border. The reason he was barred? ''Our (computerized information) system indicated he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas,'' said Gerald Belanger, a Canadian immigration official as he was quoted in the Ottawa Citizen. Leaders of the Muslim communities in Detroit, Toronto and Windsor bitterly protested Ghuniem's detention, as evidence of an anti-Muslim bias, claiming that Ghuniem was a ''man of peace.'' ''He's a very reasonable man'' declared Hussein El- Hennawy, a MAYA official quoted in the Ottawa Citizen, ''He teaches people to be peaceful.'' MAYA has established the ''Scholars Defense Fund,'' to pursue legal action against the Canadian Government for its perceived ''humiliation'' of Ghuniem.
Canadian authorities released Ghuniem back to the United States and he returned to his lecture tour on behalf of militant Islamic groups in helping them recruit new members, raise funds and coordinate strategies with other militant Islamic leaders crisscrossing the United States. US officials say they are virtually powerless to stop the influx of known militants into the United States for reasons ranging from lack of adequate intelligence to easy circumvention of the watch list to legal restrictions in stopping self-described religious clerics from entering the United States.
Still, the question raised by Ghuniem's numerous appearances in the United States is how do terrorists manage to enter the country?
One method has been those who deliberately overstay their student visas, some op who are dispatched from terrorist-supporting regimes. Some of these ''students'' have acquired visas for the purpose of attaining cover for their illicit activities as activists for terrorist organizations. Others receive advanced degrees in the US and return to their countries where some might work in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. Although there is no official compilation of the number of student visas granted to would-be terrorists and agents of terrorist supporting regimes, one study currently in preparation shows that there are at least 200 terrorists or agents of terrorist regimes and organizations who have received student visas in the past decade to pursue undergraduate or graduate training.
To deal with this issue, the INS established a pilot program called ''The Coordinated Inter- Agency Partnership Regulating International Students'' or CIPRIS. It received congressional authorization in 1997. The CIPRIS program is comprised of a consortium including the INS, Department of State, USIA, Department of Education, 22 American schools and institutions, and a broad range of private sector consultants with expertise in data systems technology, telecommunications, academic advising, administration and records keeping. The goal of the pilot program is to examine the feasibility of monitoring foreign students in the United States—especially those from countries designated as State sponsors of terrorism. According to the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 1997, the Attorney General, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Education will issue a joint report on CIPRIS, no later than four years after the commencement of the pilot program.
Beyond the issue of how terrorists have been able to exploit student visas to stay in the United States for long periods of time, another major, even more frustrating, counter-terrorist problem is the ease in which terrorists and militants freely enter the US for shorter periods of time. The official purpose of such short visits is generally linked to invitations to appear at religious-based conferences and meetings at Islamic organizations in the United States attended primarily by American Muslims. The real purposes of these visits are to recruit new members of militant organizations; facilitate fundraising for militant activities, both in the U.S. and abroad; coordinate political and even military strategies with other militants leaders; indoctrinate new ''foot soldiers;'' and even participate in terrorist training sessions.
Every year, according to law enforcement officials and information obtained at Islamic conferences, dozens of militant Islamic clerics, officials, representatives and leaders of various terrorist organizations and movements come to the United States. These include Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Gamat Al Islamiya, Sudanese National Islamic Front, Jordan's Islamic Action Front, and Hezbollah. Visits by Islamic militants to the US are not a new phenomenon.
Some get into the United States using false identification, while others simply get in because they are not on any watch list. During these conferences, it is not uncommon to hear Islamic militants praise terrorists and terrorist attacks, attack the United States and the West, or call for the death of Jews and the destruction of the United States. For the most part, these incendiary lectures, almost invariably in Arabic, are not illegal insofar as the content, unless a specific act of violence is advocated, and fall under protected speech. Federal law enforcement is largely prohibited from attending the conferences at which these militants appear, because of the restrictions imposed by the Attorney General Guidelines against any surveillance of religious groups, unless there is ironclad evidence ahead of time that a crime or a conspiracy to commit a crime will take place. Of course, absent direct surveillance, it is almost impossible to obtain such evidence—which creates a Catch-22 conundrum. On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Attorney General Guidelines were issued in response to abuses by intelligence and law enforcement officials.
Even if the FBI were involved in greater surveillance, chances are that it would not witness the events going on behind the scenes—the most likely venue of any illegal activities—even though witnessing center stage activities would be considered shocking in and of itself. For example, the Islamic Association for Palestine held annual meetings in 1989 and 1990 in Kansas City where off stage, secret meetings were held with a pre-selected ''class'' of future Hamas terrorists who were taught car-bombings and other terrorist warfare. Meanwhile, at IAP's ''plenary'' sessions—held in the Kansas City Convention center—several notorious militants and leaders of Hamas gave fiery speeches praising attacks by Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist groups in language and rhetoric more familiar to Hamas rallies in the Middle East than to Kansas City. One of the most electrifying moments came when a keffiyeh-draped leader of the Izzadin Al-Qassem death squads—the military arm of Hamas—delivered a rousing account of the specific violent terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas.
The conferences mentioned above are but a few of the literally dozens of radical Islamic events held prior to the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993. Following the bombing and the subsequent investigations into the militant Islamic networks in the US and their ties to terrorist organizations abroad, it seemed likely that the US would seek to curtail the entrance of Islamic militants into the US. Yet conferences featuring prominent terrorist sympathizers and spokesmen for Islamic militancy have continued unabated.
Dr. Ishaq Al-Farhan:
Dr. Ishaq Al-Farhan is another Islamic militant who has succeeded in coming to the United States several times. Farhan is the current Secretary General of the Jordanian Islamic Action Front (IAF) ''the largest Jordanian opposition party which serves as the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan. There exists a strong relationship between the IAF and the international terrorist organization Hamas, which was also an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood philosophy. Both the IAF and Hamas are ideologically opposed to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and are both opposed to the process of normalization occurring between Jordan and Israel as a result of the peace agreement signed between those parties in 1994. Pursuant to this ideology, the IAF has created a ''Committee for Palestine,'' whose primary objective is to stop the peace process and to prevent Jewish/Israeli tourism or investment in Jordan.
Farhan and Hamas:
Ishaq Al-Farhan has a long history with Hamas in the United States, which the State Department noted on its list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations earlier this month. Nasser Hidmi, a Palestinian youth arrested in Israel in the early 1990s for attempting to detonate a bomb, exposed the role of the Hamas military wing in the United States and how this wing recruited new Hamas activists/terrorists within the United States. In his statements to the Israeli authorities, Hidmi described the role of Islamic conferences in the United States for the training of Hamas activists/terrorists. These conferences were sponsored by both the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA). The conferences played host to militant Islamists from around the world including members of the Jordanian IAF. Farhan played an integral role in these conferences not merely as a speaker, but also as one of the individuals who recruited the Palestinian youth to partake in the activities of Hamas. In his statements to the Israeli authorities, Hidmi said:
At the Islamic Conference there were five thousand invited guests that stayed at hotels surrounding the center. . . . At the conference at Kansas City [in 1989], Muhammad Salah [a/k/a Abu Ahmed] gathered about twenty young men including myself, for a secret meeting of the activists of Hamas in a meeting hall at one of the hotels. At this meeting, Muhammad Salah and Ibrahim Al-Muzain [an officer of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), another United States-based charity that provides funding for Hamas within Israel] lectured to us. They informed us that all the young men that were present and were chosen for the secret meetings were from the Occupied Territories and were selected according to forms they filled out in the [refugee] camps. This was done in order that they will take part in activities that will support and strengthen the Intifadah within the framework of Hamas.
Hidmi's statement also mentioned Ishaq Al-Farhan:
Among those that lectured to us was Ishaq Farhan who is a member of the Jordanian Parliament.
During the extradition trial of Musa Abu Marzook, the leader of the Political Bureau of Hamas, from July 1995 until April 1997, in the Southern District of New York, the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan, as well as the White House in Washington received a great number of requests for the release of Marzook. Ishaq Al-Farhan, as the Secretary General of the IAF, wrote letters demanding the release of Abu Marzook. In one of the letters dated May 13, 1996, Farhan calls ''on all the governments of the Arab and Islamic Worlds and all defenders of human rights to raise their voices and demand the abolition of this decision and the release of Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, a prisoner of opinion and political struggle.''
On November 10, 1996, the American Embassy in Amman received the most militant threat regarding the release of Marzook, which stated the following:
We demand that you immediately release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook and urge you not to hand him over to the Zionist enemy . . . We warn you that if you do not release Dr. Musa Abu Marzook, and if you hand him over to the Jews, we will turn the ground upside down over your heads in Amman, Jerusalem, and the rest of the Arab countries and you will lament your dead just as we did to you in Lebanon in 1982 when we destroyed the Marine House with a boobytrapped car, and there are plenty of cars in our country. You also still remember the oil tanker with which we blew up your soldiers in Saudi Arabia.
Significantly, the State Department translated the above threat and had the following handwritten message on the translation: ''The Arabic fax bears the Islamic Action Front [IAF] name.''
As noted above, Al-Farhan was an attendee at joint conferences of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA). At these conferences in the early 1990s, Al-Farhan played an integral role in the recruitment of Palestinian youth for the Hamas movement. Al-Farhan's continued appearances at such conferences are a direct affront to United States policy considerations. More recently, Al-Farhan was hosted by IAP in Chicago in December 1997 at its annual conference where he made the following statements, ''We need to change this situation [where Muslim countries engage in trade primarily with Western countries] so that in the 21st century we will have more trade between Muslim countries and less trade with Western countries. Sudan is the model for independence from the West. Sudan deals with Muslim countries.'' By allowing Al-Farhan free rein to come in and out of this country as he pleases, an affront has been created in opposition to the United States policy directive to combat terrorism and the spread of radicalism in our country.
Sheikh Yusef Al Qaradawi:
Sheik Yusef Al Qaradawi currently resides in Qatar and is one of the most popular clerics in the Muslim Brotherhood movement. In the past ten years, Qaradawi has been hosted in the United States by numerous radical Islamic organizations. In the month of November 1999 alone, he was hosted at three conferences in the United States: the conference of the Shariah Scholars Association of North America (SSANA) in Detroit, Michigan; the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA—Southeast Conference in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) Convention held in Los Angeles, California.
Qaradawi possesses a worldwide following as a cleric; however, statements by him indicate his support of terrorist activities of such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He has even gone so far as to suggest that if one cannot actively participate in the armed struggle, then he or she should provide financial support such that the mujahideen can fight on behalf of all Muslims.
In an interview that appeared in the September 1999 edition of the Palestine Times, Qaradawi states his support for the ''Islamic resistance in Lebanon and Palestine'' which he says, ''represents the glorious face of the Muslim Umma and serves as an example to that effect.'' Furthermore, Qaradawi blesses ''the martyrdom operations in which a given Muslim fighter turns himself or herself into a human bomb that casts terror in the hearts of the enemy. . . . If we can't carry out acts of Jihad ourselves, we at least should support and prop up the Mujahideen financially and morally so that they will be steadfast until God's victory.''
In a speech delivered by Qaradawi at the 1995 Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA) conference held in Toledo, Ohio, Qaradawi made the following statements:
. . .–[T]his is what is told in the Hadith of Ibn-Omar and the Hadith of Abu-Hurairah: ''You shall continue to fight the Jews and they will fight you, until the Muslims will kill them. And the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: 'Oh, servant of Allah, oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!' The resurrection will not come before this happens.
[In a question referring to the state of Islamic movements, Qaradawi responded] . . . Our brothers in Hamas, in Palestine, the Islamic resistance, the Islamic Jihad, after all the rest have given up and despaired, the movement of the Jihad brings us back our faith. . . .
In response to a question about suspension of Hamas' military actions, Qaradawi responded] In regard to Palestine, I would like to say that we are in a standstill for a while, but that does not mean the end of history. As Sheikh Ahmed Yassin [of Hamas] . . . has said: ''It is possible to make a truce limited in time, and this will never mean surrendering. We can bide our time, we can stand still for a while, get some rest, but the Jihad continues . . . until the Day of Resurrection.
In a sermon (Khuttba) Qaradawi delivered in March 1996, and that was made available at the official website of the Hamas terrorist organization (http://www.palestine-info.net), Qaradawi states that Hamas and Islamic Jihad suicide bombers are not engaged in terrorism, but rather in martyrdom, and that all members of Israeli society are valid targets for terrorism due to Israel's universal conscription policy.
A lecture delivered by Qaradawi about Jihad, from March 14, 1997, was taken from his website (http://www.qaradawi.net), and the translation of the first paragraph of the Arabic text found on the website states the following:
Qaradawi reaffirmed that the Jihad is the only weapon to stop the Israeli ambitions. He demanded that the Islamic organizations Hamas, Jihad and Hezbollah will recommence their Jihad against the Jews in the Occupied Land. He called for the revival of the Intifadah in the face of the enemy which submits only to the logic of power.
Again, as was the case with Ishaq Al-Farhan, the relative ease with which Qaradawi is allowed to enter and leave the United States is an issue that should evoke concern on the part of the American counterterrorism policy establishment based on the radicalism which he espouses and the support that he gives to terrorist actions including suicide bombings.
Abdulmunem Abu Zant:
On April 21, 1996, the International Relief Association, a US-based charity organization, held a fundraiser ''for the children of Iraq'' in Brooklyn, NY. The main speaker at the event was Sheikh Abdulmunem Abu Zant, a militant Jordanian Islamic cleric. In the past, Abu Zant's violent rhetoric has led him to be expelled from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Jordanian authorities have also detained him on several occasions. From 1990 to 1998, he was a deputy in the Jordanian parliament and the self-proclaimed leader of the most radical wing of the Islamic Action Front. His name and number were also found in Hamas chief Musa Abu Marzook's telephone/address book. He is an ardent supporter of Hamas and has repeatedly called for holy war against Israel and the United States. Given these facts, his repeated entries into the US and his subsequent appearance at the Brooklyn fundraiser are perplexing.
During the 1991 Gulf War, Sheikh Abu Zant became famous for his virulent public exhortations of violence against Western ''infidels.'' According to Abu Zant, the war ''is not a war between Iraq and the U.S., but rather one between Islam and the infidels.'' In August 1990, he gave a sermon, during which he thundered ''May God attack the Jews and those who stand with them. May God attack the Americans and those who stand with them. May God attack the Soviets and those who stand with them. May God attack the English and French and those who stand with them. May God destroy completely America and enslave the Jews for rejecting the 'Islamic way.' We call for a people's war.'' At another demonstration against US involvement in the Gulf Crisis later that month, Sheikh Abu Zant threatened that President Bush would leave the White House ''as a cripple in a wheelchair.'' He continued, ''Bush, you have condemned your own people to death'' Either we defeat you or we die for the sake of God.'' During the first of these, to an audience of about 15,000 Islamic militants, Abu Zant shouted, ''Mr. Bush, the fighters of Islam will turn your soldiers into human charcoal and send them back to you in bags!'' He continued, ''Oh women of America, prepare to shed tears for your sons and husbands!'' The crowd answered him with loud cries of ''Allahu Akhbar [God is Great]'' and ''Down with America.'' Banners were unfurled at the rally that read ''What is needed is a gravedigger to bury the Americans'' and ''We shall knock on the doors of paradise with the skulls of the Americans and Israelis.''
At another September, 1990 rally in Jordan of over 50,000 people, Abu Zant reaffirmed that ''Moslems will kill all American and Western troops who are dirtying our Holy land, and their corpses will be sent home in black bags addressed to Bush.'' Abu Zant frequently attacked moderate Arab regimes that had assembled against Iraq as ''apostates'' and issued frequent and insistent calls for jihad, or holy struggle, against Western forces engaged in conflict with Iraq.
However, Abu Zant's militant Islamic crusade did not end with Iraq's defeat during the Gulf War. He became one of the most outspoken proponents of the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group, Hamas. This was complemented by his unrelenting hostility to any peace with Israel or to anyone who would attempt to achieve it. In November 1994, Abu Zant was quoted as proposing a jihad ''to liberate Palestine as an alternative to this surrender.'' In May 1995, Abu Zant formally declared to the Jordanian parliament, ''I demand the government withdraw from the peace treaty with so-called Israel, end all forms of normalization, and that it take back legislation that activates normalization with the Zionist enemy and allows them to buy land in Jordan.'' Despite his consistent record of promoting radical Islamic fundamentalism and violence, less than one year later, Abu Zant was able to freely enter the United States to give his speech at the Brooklyn charity fundraiser. His militant crusade continues undeterred even today. This past October, Zant gave a fiery series of sermons denouncing the Jordanian government's actions to restrict Hamas activity in the kingdom. He ''hailed the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, as the spearhead of jihad (holy war) against the Jewish state.'' The sermons were so bellicose that Jordanian authorities summarily arrested the cleric. Abu Zant's violent opposition to the peace process, his support of the internationally-recognized terrorist group Hamas and his calls for holy struggle against the US were well-known and issued through public channels. Clearly, Western law enforcement agencies have good reason to prevent Abu Zant from traveling to their respective nations. The fact that such an individual was able to enter the United States at will raises a number of serious concerns about the effectiveness of our existing border control measures.
Terrorist fundraising in the United States—The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF):
The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) was founded as a non-profit charity in 1987. Although the Holy Land Foundation claims merely to be concerned with global crisis and with the Palestinian cause, it is an active Hamas supporter and acts as a financial conduit for Hamas. In addition, the Holy Land Foundation strives to legitimate Hamas' activities by putting a humanitarian veneer on supporting terrorist activity in the Middle East.
Connections to Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook:
Musa Abu Marzook, together with the Elashi family (his wife's family), helped to found HLF during the beginning of the Palestinian Intifadah in 1987 and 1988. Moreover, the 1993 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax Form 990 for the Holy Land Foundation shows that Abu Marzook donated $210,000 as a one time cash donation to the HLF in 1992. Nasser Al- Khatib, who was described as Marzook's personal secretary in an Affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Robert Wright pursuant to a civil forfeiture case presented in Chicago, Illinois against the property of individuals suspected of providing financial support for the terrorist activities of Hamas within the State of Israel, is also listed on this Return as having given a one time cash donation of $22,450 also in 1992.
Shukri Abu Baker has served as HLF's CEO since the organization was founded; however, the Abu Marzook/Elashi connection still exists through brothers Basman, Ghassan and Bayan Elashi, all of who have resided in close proximity to the HLF headquarters in Richardson, Texas.
Ronni Shaked, a former official in the Israeli General Security Service, commented on Hamas fundraising in a book he wrote based on his interviews with operatives while they were imprisoned:
The major channel for fund-raising for the Hamas organization in the United States is the Occupied Land Fund that was established in Los Angeles, California. In 1992, the organization changed its name to the Holy Land Foundation and moved to Richardson, Texas. The President of this organization is Shukri Abu Baker.
Evidence strongly suggests that the Holy Land Foundation provides a crucial financial service for Hamas family annuities to suicide bombers. These annuities assure a constant flow of suicide volunteers and buttress a terrorist infrastructure heavily reliant on moral support of the Palestinian populace. In the words of its literature, Holy Land Foundation supports ''families of detainees, deportees and martyrs.'' The offices of the HLF in Israel were closed by the Israeli authorities, based on the connection between HLF fundraising and support for the Hamas terrorist apparatus. HLF's Jerusalem office chairman, Muhammad Anati, was arrested and indicted on charges of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization.
Exactly whom the HLF was supporting was addressed in the Israeli interrogation of HLF Jerusalem chairman Muhammad Anati. Anati stated the following about the organization:
I remember I used to send to the United States—pictures of orphans, photos of projects that we did, photos of refugee camps and also videos that used to arrive to videotape projects, refugee camps, and photos of historical places, such as the Machpelah Caves in Hebron, Jerusalem, etc. . . . They used to present the movies and the photos in front of the people in the United States—invited them to conferences to show these movies. During these conferences, they used to describe the organization—The Holy Land Foundation, about the charity, they used to describe it as an Islamic organization which helps people. They did not say directly that the organization supported Hamas, they told the people that the institute—The Holy Land Foundation—is an Islamic institute, which was connected and was supporting Hamas. During these gatherings about which I spoke, in which also the adopters who support the organization and transfer money and also newcomers would come to these conferences. During these conferences, they [the attendees] would get the idea—that this is an organization that supports Hamas. . . .
Regarding your question, how do I know that the Holy Land Foundation institute in America supports Hamas and talks in the conferences about its support for Hamas and that in these conferences they sing songs for Hamas, my answer is that these people used to arrive in Israel and I had a chance to talk with them—people who participated in these conferences told me all about it.
The HLF Money Trail:
Donations to the HLF are transferred to a variety of organizations in the occupied territories and PA controlled areas. For example, the Israelis found a master list of payments made by the ''Moslem Youth Society,'' one of the HLF's ''charities,'' in Hebron,. The list is divided into six columns: the name of the ''martyr'' (a Hamas operative who is killed), the ''martyr's'' chief benefactor, the benefactor's identity number, his/her relationship to the ''martyr,'' the amount paid, and the signature of a Moslem Youth Society official. The list is extensive, illustrating the reach of HLF funds. The previous example is indicative of the way HLF transfers money to Hamas. The funds do not appear to go directly from HLF to Hamas operatives, or affiliated persons. As the example shows, the money apparently goes from the HLF to another organization (in this case the Muslim Youth Society), and from that organization to the operatives or affiliated persons.
A closer look at the list of names from the Muslim Youth Society shows that three of the names on the list are known to be Hamas activists involved in terrorism:
Eiyad Hasin Abdal Aziz Hadid—Hamas activist, who was involved in the murder of the Lapid family on December 6, 1993. He was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces on March 24, 1994.
Marwan Muhamad Halil Abu Ramila—He was involved in the attack of Ephraim Zarviv in November 1993. He was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces on March 24, 1994.
Khatem Kader Ya'akov Makhtaseb—He was an activist with the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades of Hamas (the units of Hamas responsible for the suicide bombings carried out by Hamas) who was involved in shooting against the Israeli Defense Forces.
Another revelation given by the Israeli interrogation of the HLF's Jerusalem chairman is the fact that two families that have been supported by HLF funds have been the families of Yihya Ayyash and Imad Akel. These two individuals served as the leaders of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades of the Hamas organization prior to their deaths.
Another organization that the HLF supports financially is the Islamic Relief Agency of Nazareth, which was shut down by the Israeli authorities on March 17, 1996. The court decision to close the Islamic Relief Agency stated:
The Islamic Relief Agency is involved in providing massive assistance to families of Hamas activists, that committed or planned to commit severe attacks and were arrested, killed or deported, and that the main funding of the Islamic Relief Agency is from donations from organizations abroad, which are part of the funding network of Hamas.
Moreover, the court documents describe the strong relationship between the Islamic Relief Agency and the HLF:
For purpose of demonstration, a list was presented that was found at the offices of the Islamic Relief Agency what was sent to it by the American foundation—The Holy Land Foundation, in this list the American Foundation itemized the amounts of money to be transferred to 28 families in the territories. A review of the documents reveals that the amounts allocated to these families are much greater than the amounts allocated by the same foundation and by the Appellant to families included in other lists. The above list was deciphered by the Shaback and the review turned up that at least 25 out of the families were families of Hamas activists that were killed, arrested or deported.
The conclusion was therefore obvious: this foundation [HLF] through the help of the Appellant [The Islamic Relief Agency], is supporting with significant amounts of money especially those families of Hamas activists—From this the conclusion was established that the main purpose of this foundation [HLF] and of the appellant [Islamic Relief Agency] is to provide massive support to the Hamas.
Although the HLF purports to allocate money to the needy, a disproportionate amount reaches the hands of Hamas activists and their families. The Israeli Government has stated that:
While the [Holy Land] foundation does give occasional small grants to ordinary orphans, the vast majority of its assistance goes to the families of Hamas terrorists who have been killed, deported or imprisoned. By giving the terrorists the assurance that their families will be cared for if anything happens to them, the state said, the foundation encourages and sustains terrorism.
HLF and Immigration Policy:
The Holy Land Foundation hosted, from October 15–18, 1999, a conference entitled ''Rebuilding Shattered Lives'' which featured representatives from a variety of foreign nations. Included among the participants in this conference were representatives of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the Palestinian Fund for Relief and Development, based in the United Kingdom; and the Al-Aqsa Fund, based in the Netherlands. It is important to note that the Palestinian Fund for Relief and Development, also known as Interpal, was outlawed in Israel at the same time as the Holy Land Foundation by the Israeli government pursuant to the Israel Defense Forces Emergency Defense Regulations of 1945 Declaration of Unlawful Associations (amendment 3) from May 1997. According to HLF's December 1999 newsletter, this conference also hosted ''several organizations carrying out field duties.'' As noted previously, ''field duties'' of the HLF included the activities of its surrogate organizations within the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Prior to this conference in October, a member of HLF's Board of Advisors from Gaza, who teaches at the Gaza branch of the Egypt-based Al-Azhar University, attempted to enter the United States in Houston. When he attempted to pass through Customs, the United States officials denied him entry into the country and sent him on a return flight. When questioned as to why he was entering the country, he told these officials that he intended to attend the HLF conference in Dallas, Texas.
Furthermore, HLF's Jerusalem Office Chairman, Muhammad Anati, answering questions posed by the Israeli authorities regarding who sponsored his visits to the United States, stated:
Shukri Abu Baker sent to me an invitation letter to arrive in order to be trained in the subject of: ''Management and customs of the non-profit charitable organization.'' This course was intended for me only and no more people arrived to it from charitable committees in Israel and not from abroad, but only me and other employees from the fund in America were there.
In short, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development has facilitated the entry into the United States of individuals representing organizations explicitly outlawed in Israel for their support of the Hamas organization. Though the HLF engages primarily in fundraising, its hosting of these individuals, in addition to others, makes their inclusion in this Immigration and Claims testimony relevant.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Harris.
STATEMENT OF DAVID HARRIS, FORMER CHIEF OF STRATEGIC PLANNING, CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (RETIRED)
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is Dave Harris. I am president of INSIGNIS strategic research in Ottawa, Canada, a writer, lecturer and commentator on counterintelligence, counter-terrorism, and was formerly Chief of strategic planning of the Canadian security intelligence service.
I would like to begin by departing briefly from my prepared remarks to commend Congressman Smith for his decisive efforts as subcommittee chair and public figure in keeping the light focused on international terrorism's mounting threat to North America. Your leadership, sir, in defending your citizens' security by exposing the dimensions of the terrorist threat has greatly assisted those of us struggling daily beyond the borders of the United States for the effective recognition, policies and countermeasures needed to challenge this building menace to our North American communities.
Now, this past April, my testimony before this subcommittee spoke of discouraging trends connected with the security of our joint border. Suffice to say that Canada is sought out as a haven by terrorists. Fifty international terrorist organizations are represented on our soil. Some of our laws are, frankly, terrorist-friendly in inadvertently establishing immigration, refugee and financial mechanisms that are vulnerable to exploitation by violence-prone groups.
Although our Security and Intelligence Community has been highly-professional and determined, political leadership has periodically been lacking in relevant areas. Much of this situation has stemmed from Canadian citizens' own lack of awareness. As I mentioned last April, the fact that Canadians themselves have not been traditional targets of political violence has meant a failure of popular diligence, a failure reflected from time to time in a lack of political will on the part of successive Canadian governments.
Now, despite such considerations, however, and despite recent high-profile arrests at the northern border, there are some heartening signs. U.S. and Canadian intelligence and law enforcement organizations have enhanced their already unparalleled level of cooperation and joint achievement. Indeed, following the latest border scares, Attorney General Janet Reno congratulated Canadian security authorities on their action.
Prompted by expanding threats, Canada's Solicitor General, too, announced in December that a major national counterterrorism strategy is under development. There is also evidence of some stability in Canadian security budgets whose reductions over the years had caught the subcommittee's attention, and indeed some movement to adjust those laws which terrorists exploit to earn taxpayer-subsidized money.
There is nothing like a little arrested terror to focus the mind and bring an end to denial. Recent alleged Algerian terrorists' attempts to use Canada as a staging base for operations in the U.S. shocked the system and self-image of Canadians. For Canadians, the publicity engendered by the episode has put the lie to their jealously-guarded belief that Canada could never be more than a backwater in the struggle against terrorism. This consciousness is the key to reinforcing the government's willingness to take and sustain decisive action. Whether the effect will be lasting is unknown, and problems do remain.
Enormous immigration levels continue to guarantee Canada's engagement in terrorism. Each year immigration adds about 1 percent to our 29 million population. That is like a roughly 2-million-person increase to the U.S. population per annum, a number so large that penetration by terrorism becomes unavoidable, even by terrorists entering Canada from the United States.
Immigrants especially become the victims of this penetration, as a tiny minority of terrorist supporters extorts, intimidates and assassinates members of their Canadian ethnocultural communities on behalf of their foreign causes. Absurd refugee laws commonly see ostensible applicants disappearing underground in Canada and the U.S., a technique apparently used by some implicated in the recent Algerian cases. Some immigrant community leaders have indeed called for immigration levels and laws to be brought into line.
Moreover, Canada's unique policy of multiculturism complicates matters by encouraging extremists to confuse the retaining of cultures with the importing of what Canadian counterterrorist officers call ''homelands violence.'' .
In conclusion, we must work together for North America-wide solutions to what is, after all, a continental problem. Today's counterterrorism starts with yesterday's transnational intelligence, and the best intelligence will continue to be the product of mutual U.S.-Canadian cooperation. Technology, too, must be mustered for efficient border security, and, at a time of high-tech forgery, Canada, in particular, must improve its travel document system by using fingerprinting and comparably reliable identification methods.
Canada and Canadians must face up to the weaknesses in law and attitude underlying its immigration, refugee and terror-financing problems.
Finally, the awaited Canadian counterterrorism strategy must be a fearless evaluation of Canada's situation and responses, including in relation to the menace of weapons of mass destruction. The best evidence of the Canadian Government's political will to fight terrorism, and to remain a worthy neighbor, will be a strategy whose realistic analysis and unsparing solutions come to grips with the expanding danger to this continent.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Harris follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID HARRIS, FORMER CHIEF OF STRATEGIC PLANNING, CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE (RETIRED)
Mr. Chairman, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, and Members of the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims:
This past April, my testimony before this Subcommittee spoke of discouraging trends connected with the security of our joint United States-Canadian frontier. Suffice to say that Canada is sought out as a haven by terrorists. Fifty international terrorist organizations are represented on our soil. Some of our laws are, frankly, ''terror-friendly'' in inadvertently establishing immigration, refugee and financial mechanisms that are vulnerable to exploitation by violence-prone groups. Although our security and intelligence community has been highly-professional and determined, political leadership has periodically been lacking in relevant areas.
Much of this situation has stemmed from Canadian citizens' lack of awareness. As I mentioned last April, the fact that Canadians themselves have not been traditional targets of political violence, has meant a failure of popular vigilance, a failure reflected from time to time in a lack of political will on the part of successive Canadian governments.
II. INDICATIONS OF CHANGE
Despite such considerations, however, and despite recent, high-profile arrests at the northern border, there are some heartening signs. US and Canadian intelligence and law enforcement organizations have enhanced their already-unparalleled level of cooperation and joint achievement. Indeed, following the latest border scares, Attorney General Janet Reno congratulated Canadian security authorities on their action. Prompted by expanding threats, Canada's Solicitor General, too, announced in December that a major national Counter-Terrorism Strategy is under development.
There is also evidence of some stability in Canadian security budgets whose reductions over the years had caught the Subcommittee's attention. And of some movement to adjust those laws which terrorists exploit to earn taxpayer-subsidized money.
There is nothing like a little arrested terror to focus the mind and bring an end to denial. Recent alleged Algerian terrorists' attempts to use Canada as a staging base for operations in the US, shocked the system and self-image of Canadians. For Canadians, the publicity engendered by the episode has put the lie to their jealously-guarded belief that Canada could never be more than a backwater in the struggle against terrorism. This consciousness is the key to reinforcing their governments' willingness to take and sustain decisive action. Whether the effect will be lasting is unknown, and problems do remain.
III. PROBLEM AREAS
Enormous immigration levels continue to guarantee Canada's engagement in international terrorism. Each year, immigration adds about one percent to our 29-million population, a number so large that penetration by terrorism becomes unavoidable—even by terrorists entering Canada from the United States. Immigrants, especially, become the victims of this penetration, as a tiny minority of terror-supporters extorts, intimidates and assassinates members of their Canadian ethno-cultural communities on behalf of foreign causes. Absurd refugee laws commonly see ostensible applicants disappearing underground in Canada and the US, a technique apparently used by some implicated in the recent Algerian cases. Some immigrant community leaders have called for immigration levels and laws to be brought into line.
Moreover, Canada's unique policy of multiculturalism complicates matters by encouraging extremists to confuse the retaining of cultures with the importing of what Canadian counterterrorist officers call ''homelands violence.''
We must work together for North America-wide solutions to what is, after all, a continental problem. Today's counterterrorism starts with yesterday's transnational intelligence, and the best intelligence will continue to be the product of mutual US-Canadian cooperation. Technology, too, must be mustered for efficient border security, and, at a time of high-tech forgery, Canada, in particular, must improve its travel document system by using finger printing and comparably reliable identification methods.
Canada and Canadians must face up to the weaknesses in law and attitude underlying its immigration, refugee and terror-financing problems.
Finally, the awaited Canadian Counter-Terrorism Strategy must be a fearless evaluation of Canada's situation and responses, including in relation to the menace of weapons of mass destruction. The best evidence of the Canadian government's political will to fight terrorism—and to remain a worthy neighbour—will be a strategy whose realistic analysis and unsparing solutions come to grips with the expanding danger to this continent.
Mr. SMITH. I just want to recognize the ranking member of this subcommittee, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who has just joined us. She will be giving her opening statement in just a few minutes.
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER SANDS, FELLOW AND DIRECTOR, CANADA PROJECT
Mr. SANDS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just want to apologize to all the Members for being slightly late. I had a good cab driver, but a relatively recent immigrant himself. He was not a snow driver. So perhaps the committee could undertake snow driving skills as part of the citizenship test and make another positive improvement.
I am very glad that you invited me to come talk a little bit. Unlike many of my colleagues, I am a big-picture think-tank fellow. I am not a specialist in security issues. So I want to talk a little bit about where this all fits in the Canada-U.S. relationship.
Since I came down from Ottawa on Monday—I am spending the year as a Fulbright scholar up in Ottawa—I had the chance to read the Chairman's op-ed in The Globe and Mail, which I think sets a very good tone for the hearing in a spirit of constructive dialogue. I think there is a lot that we can do together.
Clearly one thing that stands out after December is that the problem we face from international terrorism coming across the Canada-U.S. border has grown, grown in this sense: Thanks to a lot of good media coverage and CNN going and taking the message around the world, we have now advertised not just to the smart and crafty terrorists, but even to the dumb ones, that the easy way to get into the United States is Canada.
Now, as other people here will say, there are a lot of things we are doing to stop that, but that what we have just done is invited more pressure on the Canadian resources, and I think we have made our job a little bit tougher.
I think it is also true that Canada and the United States do a lot in terms of counterterrorism, intelligence sharing. We do a lot together to try to work at this problem, which is why President Clinton and Prime Minister Jean Chretien in Canada have said the situation is under control so quickly, because they know what most of the American public does not know, which is that there is a great deal that is done back and forth. So they are confident that things are being done, officials are working together.
The dilemma, I think, here, is that we is sent the signal that not only are we extra vulnerable on the Canadian border, but we have returned to business as usual just a few weeks after the holiday crisis. So I am afraid that we have sent the wrong message.
Now, maybe that is just a political communications issue, but I think it is a serious one we need to address through strong action now to look at the Canadian border, and I join my colleagues in saying this is a great time for a good hearing.
Now, dealing with terrorism doesn't happen in a void in the Canada-U.S. relationship. We have a large, long-standing security relation that has been around for a long time, and I don't want to bore you with historical quotes, but I can't resist. Too much education, I guess.
Back in 1938, in Ogdensburg, Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King talked about why we were going to have a security relationship with Canada at all. We weren't involved in World War II, the Canadians were, and the feeling was we still had to make a pledge to secure them, even if we are not in the war.
Franklin Roosevelt said the people of the United States, not just the government, the people of the United States, will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other empire. A noble sentiment. But the Canadians made a promise in return. They said, in the voice of Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, ''Canada shall remain as immune from attack or possible invasion as we can reasonably be expected to make it, and that, should the occasion ever arise, enemy forces should not be able to pursue their way, either by land, sea or air, to the United States across the Canadian territory.''
Now, that was meant, I think, to counter the idea that the Nazis would sends panzers across Ontario, but it is also true that in the current crisis, the Canadians had given their pledge to do everything they could to work with us. I think that that pledge is still good.
Now, in the midst of this present danger, you know, we talked about why we need to be so close and cooperate, we have something that we both value, which is a highly integrated trading relationship. Let me take the emphasis off trade. We also have a relationship that, going back to colonial times, has had friends and family who moved back and forth across the border every day. For people who live on the border—I grew up in Detroit and am used to crossing over, my sister lives in Buffalo, sort of near your district, so I get to cross over a lot, explaining that I am a Canada person and driving the Customs guys crazy, I am afraid.
But that border, that open border, is a wonderful thing. By way of analogy, we face with the Interstate Highway System occasional problems which you can watch on the Fox Real Life specials of one criminal or another chasing down the highway with the cops after him, putting everyone's life in danger, and ending up becoming a TV star in the process. But we don't shut down the highways because criminals use the highways.
We deal with the Internet, and we know today that cyberterrorism and cybercrime are on the increase, but we don't shut down the Internet. We look for ways to balance. And I think on the border, there is a virtue in the free movement of people and goods across the border that we have to be very careful to protect here because that free movement is a value which is treasured, I think, by many Americans, and which really calls on the committee to do what Congress does, I think, quite often, which is strike a balance between the needs of the rule of law and individual liberty.
It is a fundamental issue. It is not easy. In courts around the country every day we struggle with those balances, but I think that here there is an opportunity as we deal with the border to bring in the same principle, striking a balance between those two objectives which are both worthwhile.
Since I have been in Canada, I know David talked a little bit about this, but I want to underscore this, the Canadians have really come out of December's crisis with a changed mindset, and this gives us, I think, a golden opportunity. Canadians may have been lax in the past, they may have been slow to realize just how serious this concern is, but if you talk to Canadians today, they are very aware of the threat of international terrorism. It really has hit the front pages in Canada. And that is an opportunity, I think, for us to talk to the Canadian Parliament about the things we need to do to make the continent safer. Those things include, most likely, new measures to tighten up security, but also because we have so many bilateral commissions and committees talking about this now, also it is going to come down to funding.
Now, I know funding is a sensitive issue everywhere, but the northern border needs funding. No matter how much we put in terms of tough security measures, people have to be there to enforce them. So I think we need to look at the range of funding demands, both in Canada and the United States, that our agencies need to be able to make sure that border is secure.
Now, because I am asking you to think about funding, I am not going to ask you to sort of signal that there is money in the pot, because you know what that will mean, a long line of people who will think of creative ways to spend your money. So my closing thought is that perhaps we could do a lot of good here through the creation of a binational commission between Canada and the United States that would put respected people to come together with some real funding priorities and some real action priorities that would be mutual.
I know there are other groups talking bilateral, but this would be a group designed to advise Congress and Parliament about where the dollars need to be spent most. Part of the virtue of a binational effort is just as the Congress hates to be told where to spend money, it is the same for the Canadian Parliament. So a mutual effort, I think, would include both respect and hopefully get us someplace positive.
With that, I just leave that with you as a closing thought, and thank you once again for, I think, a hearing at a good time, which I hope will do a lot of good.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Sands.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Sands follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER SANDS, FELLOW AND DIRECTOR, CANADA PROJECT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
It is an honor to be asked to testify before you today on U.S. policy to confront the threat of international terrorism through illegal immigration across the border with Canada, and the efficacy of our current policy to safeguard American lives.
THE TIMING OF THIS HEARING
This hearing is an important opportunity to evaluate the current threat, and Mr. Smith and the Subcommittee should be commended for undertaking this valuable step in exercising congressional oversight over U.S. policy in this area.
Now is an appropriate time to review this aspect of U.S. policy regarding Canada. Why?
First, because in the wake of two attempted crossings by alleged members of a terrorist organization in December 1999 there are actions which can be taken now that can improve the U.S. policy position as this issue is debated in Canada.
Second, we cannot become complacent because there is reason to believe that one consequence of the arrests in December was to advertise the ease of crossing the land border between our two countries, and our attendant vulnerability, around the world.
Today, as close to one month after the first arrest as this year's congressional calendar will permit, it is prudent that the United States take stock of its current position.
The issue facing this committee is nothing less than the security of Americans from outside aggression—not Canadian aggression, but the threat that may be posed by third parties transiting Canadian soil. Canada and the United States have an existing security relationship that addresses these same concerns.
CANADA AND AMERICAN SECURITY
In 1938, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King met in the State of New York to discuss the defense of North America in light of the second great European war of the century. FDR articulated the reasoning behind a U.S. security guarantee for Canada in those more isolationist times:
''The people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other empire.''
Canada's Prime Minister King replied that:
''[Canada] shall remain as immune from attack or possible invasion as we can reasonably be expected to make it, and that, should the occasion ever arise, enemy forces should not be able to pursue their way, either by land, sea or air, to the United States across Canadian territory.''
Both of these statements make common sense today. The United States has to protect Canada in order to protect itself. And Canada has to protect the United States in order to protect itself—from potential U.S. intervention in Canadian affairs.
THE PRESENT DANGER
The nature of the threats to the security of the United States has changed. We no longer face a military threat, as we did from Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. As other testimony given here today will establish in detail, terrorist groups based outside North America are known to have planned attacks on American soil.
The arrest of two Algerian nationals and a potential Canadian collaborator attempting to enter the United States in December 1999 underscored for all of us that the risk of an attack on U.S. civilians is real. More importantly, in the midst of tremendous shared prosperity and historic bilateral trade between the United States and Canada, these arrests reminded us that our mutual border is as easy to cross for criminals as it is for the rest of us.
It is worth pausing for a moment to reflect on the good news: that the suspects in these cases were caught before an attack was carried out, and that the due process of law, and close cooperation between U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, will help to bring these individuals to justice.
Yet regardless of the outcomes of these cases, the arrests last December have important consequences for us today.
First, in the media coverage broadcast around the world by CNN and others, we alerted the world to the openness of the U.S. border with Canada. To those hostile elements around the world that had not discovered it yet, we advertised our vulnerability.
Second, after a well-publicized tightening of border inspection procedures, both Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrítien and President Clinton reassured the public that everything was under control. Certainly the laudable intention of both was to avoid public panic. But today, a little more than one month later, the tightened security has returned to its previous state.
Our vulnerability has grown, yet our response appears fleeting.
THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS ENEMIES
Relations between Canada and the United States are uncommonly close. Canada is the United States largest trading partner, buys billions of dollars of American exports every year, and is one of the leading foreign sources of investment in our companies and communities. But trade alone does not explain the closeness of these two neighbors.
Canadians are a familiar part of American life. They are ubiquitous in popular culture—from CAE1ine Dion to Shania Twain, from Michael J. Fox to Wayne Gretzky, to name just a few. Millions of Americans have relatives in Canada, and millions more have close friends there. Our veterans fought side by side with Canadians in all the major wars of the twentieth century—even in Vietnam, where many young Canadians fought and died as volunteers in the U.S. armed forces. Nearly all our leading companies do terrific business in Canada, and know Canadians as customers, suppliers and even employees. Few countries are as well-represented on the Internet as Canada and the United States, and today an American is almost as likely to meet a Canadian online as along the border.
These forces are deepening the integration of our societies as well as our economies—and making us rich. Canada's contribution to U.S. prosperity is unparalleled in human history. This is why many people in both countries express concern about the potential implementation of new security measures at the border.
Terrorism seeks to make the free society turn itself into a police state, and care is required to avoid this. Security and freedom must be compatible or neither can exist.
Yet we balance these imperatives in domestic law all the time. It is difficult to strike an appropriate balance in some cases, but the accommodation of the rule of law and individual liberty—the lion laying down with the lamb—is the noble work of democratic governments.
THE OPEN SOCIETY AND ITS FRIENDS
The worst that Canada may be accused of here today is of realizing somewhat late the nature and extent of the problem. Many Canadians thought the United States was being paranoid. Well, if it is true that even paranoids can have enemies, it is also true that even paranoids can have friends.
It would be a grave mistake to make Canada out to be part of the problem, when Canadians are willing to be part of the solution.
As others will testify today, Canada can and should do much more to screen prospective immigrants and refugee status applicants. While other major developed countries have tightened their immigration rules in recent decades, Canada—a big, largely empty country—has remained generous and welcoming to new settlers. This has drawn desperate migrants from as far as China—as well as those with hidden intentions and criminal associations.
I have spent the past few months in Canada, as a grateful recipient of a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Ottawa, the Canadian capital. Members of Congress would find the debates in Parliament, and the debates of Canadian pundits on the evening news, quite familiar. Canada has, through tough fiscal discipline, eliminated its federal deficit spending and is now reporting annual surpluses. These have awakened demands from all quarters for new spending and tax cuts as constituents seek to reclaim part of these surpluses.
In addition, I can tell you that the Canadian police investigation that has followed the December arrests has been a major story in Canada. Canadians may not have been alert to the threat of terrorists in their midst before, but they are absolutely aware of this daunting reality today.
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY FOR JOINT ACTION
Now, as a result, there is a golden opportunity to increase the security of the United States and Canada through joint efforts to improve procedures and invest in personnel, advanced technology and other vital resources. Members of Congress and their counterparts in the Canadian Parliament are surely now ready to fund reasonable measures, and law enforcement and immigration officials in both countries will certainly act, if a consensus on the appropriate measures can be forged.
I urge the members of the Subcommittee not to let this moment pass without decisive action.
No course will be more effective than one that builds a strong consensus in the United States and Canada on the appropriate measures necessary to balance our liberty and personal security.
A BINATIONAL COMMISSION ON NORTH AMERICAN SECURITY
To that end, I recommend to you the creation of a Binational Commission on North American Security, to be created in cooperation with Canada's Parliament.
This Commission should be charged with a mandate to promptly consult with law enforcement and immigration personnel as well as with the community of frequent border users (including representatives of the private sector and communities along the northern border) and recommend to Congress and Parliament a consensus agenda of concrete actions to be taken by officials in both countries to secure the safety of Canadian and American civilians in a manner that is technologically sophisticated and as unobtrusive as possible to the flows of family, friends and free commerce that are the lifeblood of our future prosperity.
The recommendations of this bilateral and all-partisan Commission would deserve and likely receive swift action from both countries.
Only by working in cooperation with Canada can the United States address the problems identified with Canadian immigration screening and domestic security arrangements that threaten our communities by allowing dangerous persons into our midst. Canadians have their hand outstretched in friendship, and we must not slap it away in stern judgment of previous nonchalance.
In closing, I remind the members of the Subcommittee that our vulnerability along the Canadian frontier is now widely known. The challenge for Canada's immigration and law enforcement authorities is certain to grow as others attempt to follow the road to the United States through Canada that has now been shown to the world to be an easy one to traverse.
As good neighbors, and in our own fundamental national interest, we must pledge to share our greater resources, experience with terrorism and expertise in security issues to help the Canadians to address the threat posed by international terrorism.
This opportunity for action is yours.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Stubblefield, before we go to your testimony, I am going to recognize the ranking member, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for your indulgence. As I indicated to you earlier, I had some prior meetings, and to overcome the snow as well, and I appreciate very much the opportunity to be able to be here this morning.
More importantly, let me say, Mr. Sands, I think it is appropriate to come right after you, because this is a timely hearing, and I thank the Chairman very much. In fact, I might at this point capture a part of your remarks, and that is that I think a binational commission, an opportunity to study how we can further serve all of our interests, one, of course, noting Mr. LaFalce's presence, tourism and trade, but as well acknowledging the idea that we do have some concerns and that we should treat all borders equally. In fact, as you know, I am from Texas, and we certainly have issues dealing with the border in the southern area.
I would particularly like to draw your attention to recent events around Y2K, and that is, of course, the incident of the individual who travelled across the border and, of course, jeopardized or threatened or allegedly threatened the safety of our Seattle citizens or those in Washington to the extent that local officials thought it was appropriate not to move forward on New Years activities.
We are gratified that Y2K was safe, but, as Mr. Lamar Smith realizes, at that time I even invited him to a briefing in Houston to deal with the question of potential terrorism. So many things were being said, and fortunately we did not have that occur. But what has happened is our Special Agent in Charge in Houston found a Texas connection, and we were then starting to investigate the potential of some incident there in Houston.
I only say that to say that it is important that we take our responsibilities seriously. This hearing will hopefully give us some guidance as to how we do it best.
As an aside, I want to applaud Chairman Smith for this kind of hearing. This is a far more appropriate role for Congress than bestowing citizenship on 5 1/2year-old children.
But as we look at these issues, let me say that I hope that we will keep in mind the question of profiling, that we keep the relationship between Canada and the United States, that we hopefully work hard to uphold the best principles of law enforcement in our democratic society, and that even a small percentage of targeting or profiling not be acceptable. Stopping or searching individuals on the basis of race is not effective law enforcement policy, and it is not consistent with our democratic ideals, especially our commitment to equal protection under the law for all persons.
In addition, we need to focus on effective methods before we decide what should be done. As I noted, I am very responsive to your idea that we should have a clear picture of what kind of security measures are already in place. The nature of these safeguards is such that they are often not publicized.
I do note at this time that having an earlier hearing on some other issues, our northern Border Patrol did acknowledge the fact that there is certainly not enough personnel there, so we know we have one issue at least as it relates to the American side.
We must first judge the appropriateness of our current approach so we can make enlightened decisions on where improvements can be made. I noted earlier the recent border apprehensions in anticipation of Y2K problems were made with good, old-fashioned police work, and not with efforts to further secure the borders that may be excessive types of format. Again, however, this is a new day. So we must contemplate how we can expand the existing procedures that we use to patrol the border.
In addition, I would offer to say that we are technologically all competent, we hope, and that we might begin to use technological resources that would hopefully be more effective.
Canada is one of the United States' best allies in the fight against terrorism. News reports of recent arrests at the United States-Canadian border suggest that Canada is doing, however, at this time a little less than its fair share in protecting both our countries from terrorists; is a question whether or not it is true or not. Within hours of the arrest, Canadian law enforcement agencies launched a major joint investigation that rapidly identified and linked suspected terrorists across the continent.
I do believe, however, that we can do better. Canada and the United States share the same concerns about terrorism and the two-way movements of terrorists between our countries. Again, I believe we can enhance that and share more better, more frequently, and review it more frequently, because we are in a different set of circumstances now.
The United States cooperates more closely on counterterrorism with Canada than any other country in the world, and this cooperation was formalized by a 1988 joint declaration on counterterrorism, which bolsters information exchange, enhances border controls, and strengthens crisis management capabilities. This hearing, I hope, however, will provide us with greater insight from those who will give us ideas and suggestions, ways of improving, and maybe those who have a different perspective.
The one point that I would like to emphasize as we conclude this hearing and determine in which direction we should take, safety, safety, safety, for all of our citizens, both in Canada and the United States, at the same time reinforcing the ideals of this Nation, which is equality and justice and fairness. I think we can have it all. We just need to pay attention to detail and as well be sincere in our efforts.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask to submit my entire statement for the record.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, your entire statement will be made a part of the record, as well as some news articles that I have here also to be made part of the record without objection.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Thank-you Mr. Chairman
A fundamental requisite of sovereignty is the ability of a nation to control its borders. At the same time, we must not forget that a fundamental requisite of our freedom is a balance between control of the comings and goings at the border and our civil liberties.* The border security pendulum may have swung too far on the Texas border—on May 20, 1997, Marines on patrol at the Texas border looking for drugs shot and killed 18-year old Ezequiel Hernandez while he was tending his family's goats.
We know that our Federal law enforcement officers strive to uphold the best principles of law enforcement in our democratic society. Nevertheless, we cannot tolerate the small percentage of these officers who bring racial bias to the job. No person should be targeted by law enforcement because of the color of his or her skin.
Stopping or searching individuals on the basis of race is not effective law enforcement policy, and it is not consistent with our democratic ideals, especially our commitment to equal protection under the law for all persons. It is neither legitimate nor defensible as a strategy for public protection.
It is simply wrong.
Racial profiling at the border, whether used to fight the drug trade, illegal immigration, or terrorism, should be prohibited. Effective steps must be taken to ensure that law enforcement efforts at the border do not have an unjustifiable disparate impact based on race.
Focus on Effective Methods:
Before we decide what should be done, we should have a clear picture of what kind of security measures are already in place. The nature of these safeguards is such that they are often not publicized. We must first judge the appropriateness of our current approach so that we can make enlightened decisions on where improvements can be made.
The recent border apprehensions in anticipation of Y2K problems were made with good, old fashioned police work, not with repressive efforts that militarize the border, discriminate based on race, or infringe on due process rights or diminish the right to an adequate hearing.
Before contemplating any new and potentially disruptive measures that would have a negative impact on civil liberties, we need to examine what is currently being done to safeguard the U.S. against terrorists and support the efforts that are being used effectively right now.
Cooperation Between U.S. and Canada:
Canada is the United States' best ally in the fight against terrorism.
News reports on recent arrests at the United States/Canadian border suggesting that Canada is doing less than its fair share in protecting both our countries from terrorists are just plain wrong. Within hours of the arrests, Canadian law-enforcement agencies launched a major joint investigation that rapidly identified and linked suspected terrorists across the continent.
Canada and the United States share the same concerns about terrorism and the two-way movement of terrorists between our countries.
The United States cooperates more closely on counter-terrorism with Canada than with any other country in the world. This cooperation was formalized by our 1988 Joint Declaration on Counter-Terrorism, which bolsters information exchange, enhances border controls and strengthens crisis management capabilities.
Attorney General Janet Reno and her Canadian counterpart, Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay, have jointly praised the work of agencies on both sides of the border. FBI Director Louis Freeh reiterated this support in his recent meeting with Canadian law-enforcement officials.
It has been widely reported that a large number of terrorist organizations have adherents in Canada, but these same organizations are also present in the United States. This is part of the price that Canada and the United States pays for being free and being democratic countries that have a strong commitment to civil rights.
Thank-you Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Jackson Lee, for your opening statement. I think our friends and viewers should see a united bipartisan front here in trying to accomplish the same thing.
Mr. Stubblefield, would you proceed with your testimony, please.
STATEMENT OF GARY STUBBLEFIELD, PRESIDENT, GLOBALOPTIONS LLC
Mr. STUBBLEFIELD. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I want it thank you for the opportunity to testify before you. Being a native Montanan, I want to say I am gratified to see all of my colleagues didn't let a little snow deter them from showing up today.
As a career U.S. Navy SEAL and subsequently an international security consultant, I have been involved in planning how to penetrate the border security of many of our adversaries, as well as protecting U.S. and other friendly borders from outside threats for over 30 years now.
As we begin the new millennium, one of the gravest dangers to our Nation's security is the threat that is posed by terrorism. While the level of state-sponsored terrorism has declined, terrorist groups continues to receive state assistance in the form of money, weapons, training and safe havens. At the same time, state-sponsored terrorism is declining, we are witnessing the growth of freelance terrorism.
The most alarming development in terrorism, in my view, is the growing likelihood of a chemical or biological attack. We all recall the deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway by the Japanese doomsday cult that left 12 people dead and 5,300 people injured. What happened in Tokyo must be a wake-up call for what can happen here in America.
I concur with others in saying it is no longer a question of if the United States will be attacked by terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, but rather it is a question of when. Our response to this threat of terrorism must be integrated, coordinated and carried out with conviction. We cannot afford to focus on or respond to only one weakness at a time. We need to continue tightening security both at home and abroad. We must continue increasing funds to our intelligence agencies to monitor terrorist activities well in advance of their arriving here on our soil.
On the diplomatic front, the State Department must continually increase antiterrorism cooperation with other countries. Internally, our law enforcement agencies need to ensure interagency coordination is greatly enhanced. We need to continue providing additional resources to law enforcement for training and for preparing first responders so they can deal effectively with a chemical or biological attack.
Congress needs to continue boosting the budget for U.S. Customs to enhance security along all of our borders. We always need to consider preemptive strikes against terrorists and to deploy military force in retaliation to terrorist attacks, but keep in mind there is a price to pay for that source of action. The United States has stirred up a hornet's nest by bombing four sovereign nations in the past 24 months, three of which have harbored terrorists who were involved in crating weapons of mass destruction.
Continuing an obvious weakness in our defense against terrorism is the inadequacy of security along our northern border. We have an insufficient number of Border Patrol agents to protect our 4,000-mile border with many crossings. Many of the smaller points of entry are not even staffed at night. We create no record of who enters the United States from Canada or determine if they subsequently depart us.
Put another way, our security is so lax along the northern border that Ahmed Ressam, who was apprehended with more than 100 pounds of high explosive initiator and four sophisticated timing devices, chose to cross the U.S. at a checkpoint instead of across the open frontier.
This type of explosive is often used as the initiator to detonate a much larger bomb. A timing device triggers those high explosives which in turn ignite a much larger bomb made from materials such as ammonium nitrate or fertilizer. In my view, Ressam was planning up to four massive attacks on the scale of the Oklahoma Federal Building or the World Trade Towers bombings.
As horrific as this scenario may seem, the terrorist threat to America is far more serious. If terrorists succeed in attacking America with chemical or biological weapons, the casualties would be not in the hundreds but in the thousands or tens of thousands. Ressam obviously had confidence that our security was so inadequate that he could easily slip across into the U.S. and not bother with finding an alternative route that is much less protected. Literally, terrorists such as Ressam believe our border security is a joke.
The inadequate security controls on our northern border might not be such a concern if Canada had tougher laws to keep out potential terrorists. The risks from this translates to us directly through easy crossings from Canada into the United States. Canada has become a staging ground for terrorists to raise money, recruit new members and plan attacks against Americans.
However, Canada is a close friend of the United States. It should be noted that as a sovereign country, she has the right to establish whatever laws she wants regarding the immigration policies. This means that because Canada has a lax immigration control, we must take this factor into account when determining procedures and allocating resources to ensure America's security.
Members of the subcommittee, this threat that we face as a Nation is one to which we must respond to protect America. We must establish a comprehensive integrated strategy of response to terrorism along multiple fronts. To protect America, in my view, it is imperative that we accelerate the establishment of an entry-exit control system. This system must not only control all of our border entries, it must also permit tracking of aliens that overstayed their visa permits.
As land ports of entry on our borders include security, we can expect the terrorists to respond accordingly. When future Ressams realize they cannot easily slip across the borders to establish checkpoints, they will seek alternative routes in the same manner as drug traffickers and illegal immigrants do today. So we must also enhance security between the checkpoints. This can best be accomplished by technology and increasing the number of law enforcement resources. Our goal must be to improve detection and identification capabilities along all of our boards and make available law enforcement personnel to effectively respond to those violations.
We must not forget our maritime frontiers. These are, for the most part, wide open to entry from the sea. Our scant resources on land crossings are exceeded only by the inability to adequately monitor and protect our coastlines and harbors from illegal entry or crossings. What could a vessel coming from Canada down on the northeast seaboard bring into Boston or New York harbors, or even across one of the Great Lakes? What sort of probability of detection would exist today to prevent this?
We can establish tracking and identification systems for a very reasonable cost that, if properly employed, would effectively deter this sort of entry into the United States. We could expend vast resources to enhance security along our borders, but will remain vulnerable to attacks if we fail to maintain an effective intelligence network. We must not hesitate to use preemptive strikes on terrorists before they strike us. We should make clear that our response would be overwhelming, not just an act like the retaliation by the current administration following the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa. We should be unambiguous in that we consider it an act of war and will respond with overwhelming force if any nation is connected to an attack on U.S. soil employing chemical or biological weapons. Neil Livingstone, our chairman at GlobalOptions, and one of the leading experts on terrorism warns, ''We cannot afford to wait for the Ressams of this world to carry out their wicked designs, but we must act decisively to discourage terrorists and their government patrons from even contemplating the murder of Americans.'' .
I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and I look forward to answering any questions that you may have.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Stubblefield.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stubblefield follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GARY STUBBLEFIELD, PRESIDENT, GLOBALOPTIONS LLC
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims. As a career U.S. Navy SEAL and subsequently an international security consultant, I have been involved in planning how to penetrate the border security of potential adversaries as well as protecting U.S. and friendly borders from outside threats for more than 30 years. So I feel well qualified to participate in today's discussions.
As we begin the New Millennium, one of the gravest dangers to our nation's security is the threat posed by terrorists. While the level of state-sponsored terrorism has declined, terrorist groups continue to receive state assistance in the form of money, weapons, training, and safe havens. State sponsors of international terrorism, as listed by the State Department, include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Cuba, and North Korea.
At the same time that state sponsored terrorism is declining, we are witnessing the growth of freelance terrorism. Osama bin Laden, who is believed to have master-minded the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, is the best example of this new trend. Bin Laden has substantial personal wealth and business contacts. He is believed to be bankrolling and training various Islamic extremist organizations. Bin Laden is part of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders, which advocates that it is the religious duty of Muslims to attack Americans wherever they may be.
The most alarming development in terrorism, in my view, is the growing likelihood of a chemical or biological attack. We all recall the deadly nerve gas attack in the Tokyo subway by the Japanese doomsday cult, Aum Shinrikyo, that left 12 people dead and 5,300 injured. What happened in Tokyo must be a wake-up call for what can happen in America. The threat is real. President Clinton, in a news interview last year, said a chemical or biological attack in the United States was ''highly likely.'' Former Senator Sam Nunn said it is no longer a question of if the United States will be attacked by terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, but only a question of when.
In response to the escalating threat of terrorism, we have tightened security at our airports, embassies, and military bases abroad. We have increased funding to our intelligence agencies to monitor terrorist activities. On the diplomatic front, the State Department has sought to increase anti-terrorism cooperation with other countries.
We have directed additional resources to law enforcement for training and to prepare first responders so they can deal effectively with a chemical or biological attack. Congress has boosted the budget for U.S. Customs to enhance security along our borders.
We have also employed military force in retaliation to terrorist attacks. We have also stirred up a hornet's nest by bombing four sovereign nations in the past 24 months, three of which have harbored terrorists or were involved in creating weapons of mass destruction.
Taken as a whole, America has mobilized resources in response to terrorist threats. We are gradually improving our abilities to detect and deter terrorist activities. But the job is incomplete. Much more can and should be done to protect America, its citizens, and its international role.
A continuing and obvious weakness in our defense against terrorism is the inadequacy of security along our Northern border. This is not a new issue. The problem is not difficult to describe. We have only 300 Border Control agents to protect a 4,000 mile border with 90 crossings. Many of the smaller points of entry are not staffed at night. Additionally, when people enter the United States from Canada, there is no requirement to present a visa or other documentation unless they plan an extended stay. We create no record of who enters the U.S. or determine if they subsequently depart.
Put another way, our security is so lax along our Northern border, Ahmed Ressam, who was apprehended with more than 100 pounds of high explosive initiator and four sophisticated timing devices, chose to cross into the U.S. at a checkpoint instead of over an open frontier. He obviously had confidence our security is so inadequate that he could easily slip into the U.S. and did not bother with finding an alternative route that is less protected. Ressem, according to a recent news article, may have been operating in the U.S. since 1997, which means he probably traveled back and forth across the border numerous times over a three year period without being apprehended. Clearly, terrorists such as Ressam believe our border security is a joke.
The inadequate security controls on our Northern border would not be such a concern if Canada had tougher laws to keep out potential terrorists. But as we are all aware, Canada has generous immigration laws. This translates to us through easy crossings from Canada into the United States. As a result, today there are at least 50 terrorist organizations operating in Canada. Canada has become a staging ground for terrorists to raise money, recruit new members, and plan attacks against America.
Canada is fully aware of this problem. A report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which is often quoted but nevertheless bears repeating, concludes the following: ''Most of the world's terrorist groups have established themselves in Canada, seeking safe haven, setting up operational bases and attempting to gain access to the USA.''
Canada is a close friend of the United States. It should be noted that, as a sovereign country, it has the right to establish whatever laws it wants regarding immigration policy. This said, and because Canada has lax immigration controls, we must take this factor into account when determining procedures and allocating resources to ensure America's security.
Ahmed Ressam was apprehended with 100 pounds of high explosives and four timing devices. It is important to understand that he was not plotting to explode four, 25-pound, high-explosive bombs. This type of high explosive is often used as an initiator to detonate a much larger bomb. The timing devices trigger the high-explosives, which in turn ignite a much larger bomb made from materials such as ammonia nitrate or fertilizer. In my view, Ressam was planning up to four massive attacks on the scale of the Oklahoma Federal Building or World Trade Towers bombings.
As horrific as this scenario may seem, the terrorist threat to America is far more serious. We must consider the possibility that the next Ressam who crosses our border may be transporting not conventional explosives, but sarin gas. If terrorists succeed in attacking America with a chemical or biological weapon, casualties will not be in the hundreds, but in the thousands or tens of thousands.
Members of this Subcommittee, this is the threat we face as a nation, and to which we must respond, to protect America. It is critical that we tighten security in areas—such as our northern border—which are clearly lacking for effective security. We must establish a comprehensive, integrated strategy that responds to terrorism along multiple fronts.
To protect America, in my view, it is imperative that we accelerate the establishment of an entry-exit control system. The system must not only control all our border entries, it must also permit tracking aliens that have overstayed their visa permits.
As land ports of entry on our borders improve security, we can expect terrorists to respond accordingly. When future Ressams realize they cannot easily slip across our borders through established check points, they will seek alternative routes in the same manner as drug traffickers and illegal immigrants. The future Ressams will travel to more remote locations that are less secure. So we must also enhance security between check points. This can best be accomplished by technology and by increasing the number of Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement resources. Our goal must be to improve detection and identification capabilities all along our borders and make available law enforcement personnel to effectively respond to violations.
We must not forget our maritime frontiers. These are, for the most part, wide open to entry from the sea. Our scant resources on the land crossings are exceeded only by the inability to adequately monitor and protect our coastlines and harbors from illegal entry or crossings.
As important as it is to improve security along our 4,000 mile Northern border, this action alone will be insufficient to deter future terrorist attacks against the United States. Our ability to combat terrorism is only as good as our weakest link. We can expend vast resources to enhance security along our borders, but will remain vulnerable to attacks if we fail to maintain an effective intelligence network. Creating a cordon sanitaire is not the solo answer to an effective anti-terrorism policy.
Terrorists must understand that America will act swiftly and with certainty if attacked. Taliban authorities in Afghanistan are providing a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and refuse to hand him over to Western authorities, despite sanctions imposed by the United Nations. The U.S. government should publicly announce that it will hold Afghanistan responsible for any terrorist attacks connected to Osama bin Laden and we will retaliate with the full force of American military power to ensure the complete destruction of the Taliban regime. We should make clear that our response will be overwhelming, not just an action like the retaliation by the current Administration following the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa.
We should also unambiguously announce that we will consider it an act of war and will respond with overwhelming force if any nation is connected to an attack on U.S. soil employing chemical or biological weapons. Such a declaration would be a variation of the MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) doctrine, which successfully maintained peace between the United States and the Soviet Union for more than 40 years. Such a policy would ensure no nation miscalculates its support of terrorist groups or misreads America's intentions.
In a recent article, Neil Livingstone, our chairman at GlobalOptions and one of the leading experts on terrorism, states:
''The New World Order lacks the rules and structure that prevailed during the Cold War. A clear statement of this nation's unwillingness to tolerate terrorist attacks on its citizens anyplace in the world, and the consequences that will flow from such attacks, will give much needed shape and form to the international landscape and provide greater protection for our citizens.'' Livingstone warns, ''We cannot afford to wait for the Ressams of this world to carry out their wicked designs but must act decisively and with dispatch to discourage terrorists and their government patrons from even contemplating the murder of Americans.''
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your Subcommittee and I look forward to answering any questions that you may have.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Thompson.
STATEMENT OF JOHN THOMPSON, DIRECTOR, THE MACKENZIE INSTITUTE, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
Mr. THOMPSON. Thank you for the invitation. I am a little perturbed that you think you had a snowstorm yesterday. I am surprised at your ability to deal with it.
Generally, Canada is much like the United States, a Nation built on immigration. We have pretty well taken people from the same sources and over the same years. However, we do also have a larger tradition of bringing in refugees. Remember, of course, that our first major wave of settlement in Canada consisted of colonists and Indians who decided they didn't like the 13 colonies after you sought to ''dis'' King George. Beyond that, of course, we were also the terminus for the underground railway before the American Civil War.
That having been said, immigration is still vital to Canada. Without it, our own rate of natural increase would be quite minor indeed, and we do really rely on it. At the same time, we do have an investment in continuing to bring in large numbers of refugees. But, yes, the abuse of our refugee systems are quite widespread and they do irritate many Canadians—moreover, many new Canadians.
We now have probably one of the most cosmopolitan societies on Earth, but many new Canadians have come into Canada to find that the very people they came to get away from are also present. As an example, the Tamil Tigers were cited earlier. Remember, they are one of the new fusion groups, a fusion of both criminal and terrorists elsewhere. But in Canada they have a very large presence. Their main activity is not to act against Canadian interests, but to make money. Large amounts of money through systemic extortion within the Tamil community, but also with narcotics, prostitution and fraud against the larger community. That leads to one of several Canadian problems. First off, yes, it has been commented on before, we do believe that we are a peaceful kingdom. We have had no political violence of our own in a long time and have forgotten some of the atrocious events that did occur in Canada because we thought of them as someone else's problem. For instance, the Air India bombing in 1985 remains the most lethal aircraft bombings to date. Most of the 329 victims were Canadian citizens, but the natural reaction from most of our citizens was to think of this as a problem for India and not for Canada.
Just as another aside, 1985 was the last action that I can think of where an act of terrorism was actually targeted against Canadian interests. It actually occurred in the United States when an Armenian group put a bomb in the Air Canada building in Los Angeles. People do generally leave us alone, but most Canadians are really unaware of the rate by which we are victimized by insurgents who are involved in organized crime to raise money in Canada. We have been talking about an Algerian gentleman who seems to have triggered a chain of events. Remember that in Montreal, he was involved in an automobile theft ring, again, an organized criminal activity designed to raise funds.
Now, part of the problem is that it is not just Canadian citizens who have difficulty accepting that a threat exists, it is also our political leaders. In Canada, especially in the last 100 years, 69 of those years we have been governed by the current party, the Liberal Party. More than any other political party, they have facilitated immigration and have proven adept at attracting support from new Canadians. Again, most of the refugees and immigrants who have come in since the Second World War and during the Second World War came in under a Liberal government, they were granted citizenship, and they remember it.
The next problem, again, is Canada has actually had a tradition of political leadership that is actually not much involved outside of North America. If you look at the last 10 Presidents of the United States, going back to Harry Truman, I believe nine of them wore a uniform at one time or another and four of them had been involved in war. If you look at the last 10 Prime Ministers of England—discount Margaret Thatcher—and of those nine males, you still have, I believe, seven who had been involved in the military at one time or another in their lives, a number of whom had fought. That goes back to Winston Churchill in the 1950's. The last 10 Canadians go back to Mackenzie King of the 1930's; and only two had ever worn a uniform, neither of whom had ever seen action.
While a lot of Canadians have been involved in security threats elsewhere in the world and our military is heavily overtasked, inside Canada itself very few people have any idea of what sort of malevolence can exist out there. We have problems accepting that. That is why, for example, our police are underfunded especially when it comes to controlling immigration and refugee abuses, why there is often poor interagency communication within Canada. Ironically, groups like the RCMP and CSIS communicate better with their American counterparts than they do with each other. Then, of course, beyond that, the final problem is a lack of political will to seriously address these problems. It remains to be seen if this lack of political will is still going to remain in the future. That is our big challenge. Thank you.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Thompson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Thompson follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JOHN THOMPSON, DIRECTOR, THE MACKENZIE INSTITUTE, TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
In 1998, following his testimony to a Canadian Senate inquiry into terrorism and public safety, the Director General of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) alleged that representatives of some 60 terrorist organizations were present in Canada.
Without providing an exhaustive survey of terrorism within Canada, recent events have graphically demonstrated that Islamic Fundamentalists are present. The Air India bombing of 1985 killed 329 people (most of whom were Canadian citizens) and remains the most lethal aircraft bombing to date. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka have a considerable fundraising apparatus established in Canada, while members and supporters of the Kurdish PKK are also present. Over the years, Iranian exiles, radical Black Muslims, the Provisional Wing of the IRA (and their Protestant counterparts), and various Palestinian groups have also surfaced in Canada.
Nor are terrorists the only security threats in Canada. Christopher Andrew's The Mitrokhin Archives, among its many other revelations, details a number of attempts by the Soviet Union to place illegals (agents who operate without a bona fide ''legal'' cover) into the United States by running them through Canada. This activity began in the 1950s—with some severe interruptions from the RCMP's Security Service—and continued well into the 1970s. While modern espionage tends to be aimed at the acquisition of technology (countering this is a major activity for CSIS), other nations may decide to follow the old Soviet strategy.
If there is significant representation from terrorist organizations in Canada, the same is true for organized crime. To cite one example, participants in the 1990–93 Black Market in cigarettes in Canada included the traditional North American Mafia; Aboriginal organized crime, Bikers, Montreal's Franco-Irish underworld and Lebanese, Sikh, Vietnamese, Jamaican, Chinese and Russian gangs. A senior police officer in Cornwall Ontario (the city closest to the main entry point for contraband) described his town to the author as a ''Klondike for Organized Crime.''
A Canadian police report was cited in the prosecution of a Vermont gun dealer who had diverted approximately 1,000 handguns into the black market. It listed details of 102 weapons that had been recovered in Canada. Canadian Suspects associated with these weapons included members of Russian Mafia, Armenian thieves, Mohawk Warriors, the France-Irish underworld, Jamaican Posses, Colombians, Vietnamese gangsters, sundry street gangs, Bikers and at least two Mafia families.
In sum, organized crime in Canada is as cosmopolitan as the rest of Canadian society. However, traditional criminal organizations have been joined by numerous new groups.
A characteristic of terrorists and other insurgent groups in the 1990s is that most have had to become self-supporting, usually by participating in organized crime. Some groups, such as the Tamil Tigers or FARC in Colombia, have perfectly fused both activities into a single organization. Most of the terrorist groups that are present in Canada, are there to make money and garner support. Few international groups have ever directed violence against Canada itself. As an example, the Tamil Tigers in Canada engage in fraud, extortion (within the Tamil expatriate community), heroin trafficking and prostitution to fund their war effort in Sri Lanka. A handsome share of the profits of the cocaine market in Canada must be assumed to be in FARC's pockets.
The effects of this hybrid relationship between support for insurgency and organized crime cannot be understated. It is not a new phenomenon, but was largely absent in the Cold War Era. However, those groups that evolve into this pattern have the potential to become extremely powerful. The Tamil Tigers own their own merchant ships and FARC now controls some 40% of Colombia. Historical examples of insurgents who drifted into organized crime include the Mafia and the Chinese Triads—both of which may have more influence than is generally understood.
Most modern organized criminal societies and insurgent support networks are ethnic in character. Criminal societies as diverse as the Mafia, the Posses and Triads tend to have a core membership based on common experience from a narrow ethnic base. The same is also true of Biker gangs who tend to have a strong white supremacist element. Insurgents around the world tend to belong to a sub-national minority or a particular religious faction. In a cosmopolitan society, this characteristic can add considerable complications for law enforcement agencies—this is certainly true in Canada.
Support for insurgency and organized crime within immigrant communities is an old story. One of the author's great uncles was a member of an Irish gang in New York City that specialized in theft, intimidation and fixing sporting matches in the early 1900s. Typically, his parents had moved into an Irish ghetto and his father died young because of an industrial accident. The combination of societal dislocation, poverty, unfamiliarity with the new society and an absent parent made him a prime candidate for criminal activity. On the other hand, the author's grandfather was a law-abiding and hard-working man for all of his long life. Social conditions make participation in criminal activity more likely, but not inevitable.
Immigration and Canada
Like the United States, Canada is a society of immigrants. Before the Second World War, Canada largely drew from the same sources as the United States—with the significant exception of involuntary immigration from Africa. There were near identical restrictions on Asian immigration in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, and little immigration from outside of Europe. As with the United States, immigration rates were especially high in the decade before the First World War. For example, in 1910–1913, Canada averaged 323,800 new arrivals each year—a rate that has not been repeated since.
After the Second World War, annual immigration varied between 80,000 and 200,000. Sources for new arrivals slowly diversified, a trend that accelerated in 1967 when the Canadian government determined that race, color, religion or sex could no longer be used to determine admissibility. Shortly afterwards, the Immigration Act was changed to reflect three basic goals:
1) To foster the development of a strong national economy in all regions;
2) To facilitate the reunion of Canadian residents with family members from abroad;
3) To uphold Canada's humanitarian tradition.
The Act states that the immigration program should protect the health and safety of all Canadians, and prevent the entry of criminals, spies, terrorists and subversives. However, sorting out the occasional bad apple in all the new barrels is not easy at the best of times. A Supreme Court of Canada interpretation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (written by Justice Bertha Wilson in 1985) presented a major handicap to enforcing this part of the Act. The interpretation of the Charter held that all non-Citizens were fully entitled to all the same legal protections as citizens from the very moment they set foot in the country.
For some 69 of the last 100 years, Canada has been governed by the Liberal Party. The Liberals, especially since the Second World War, have become adept at garnering the votes of new Canadians (most of whom were admitted into the country and granted citizenship under Liberal government). In 1972, the Liberals also introduced a new policy to support multiculturalism; and this has generally strengthened their support among new Canadians.
The current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Elinor Caplan, recently declared that she hoped to boost immigration to more than 300,000 a year (or 1% of Canada's population). To accomplish this, decision making may be decentralized, and it will be easier for foreign students, temporary workers and others to get permanent status without having to return to their home countries to apply. Again, while the vast majority of would-be immigrants will be law-abiding and useful citizens, Canada's record for detecting and deporting the bad apples among them is less than good.
Moreover, Canada has become perhaps the most cosmopolitan nation in the world, and most citizens generally take pride in this accomplishment. But this transition—in combination with Post War sensibilities about racial discussions of any kind—mitigates against candid discussion of problems within particular communities. For example, members of the Jamaican Posses were very active in Toronto in the early 1990s. Typically, most of the victims of their gunplay and home invasions were Canadians of Caribbean origin. Of the three Toronto daily newspapers at the time, only one frequently referred to the Posses by name. The largest circulation English language daily (one of pronounced Liberal sympathy) rarely even described the perpetrators of much of this violence.
Canada is also extremely accommodating to refugee claimants. Pending a hearing to allow landed immigrant status, a refugee will be awarded a series of welfare benefits. Some refugees resent this—an Afghan friend of the author disliked receiving what he regarded as charity. As he was not allowed to gain employment until he had immigrant status, he used the interval to attend government funded language training. The majority of refugees do need this period of support while they adjust to life in Canada.
Some refugee claimants arrive with a full knowledge of Canada's welfare system—general welfare, family benefits, subsidized housing and an allowance to purchase furniture and household effects. Social workers in the Etobicoke area of Toronto were sometimes startled to find that many Somali refugees had precise knowledge of all their entitlements. Some made multiple claims under different names. Perhaps just as disturbing to police in British Colombia are teenage boys from Central American nations who also land with a detailed knowledge of expected benefits, and a clear idea of their legal protections under the Young Offenders Act. Some have been picked up as drug dealers within two days of landing in Canada.
Some refugee communities have used the Canadian benefits system to a wider advantage. Somali warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed was largely funded by Canadian welfare benefits and drug trafficking. Clan members who arrived in Canada forwarded a tithe of their income to the Warlord. His second wife, Khagida Gurhan, and four of his children were living on welfare at the time in London, Ontario. Gurhan also frequently traveled back to Africa to accompany Aideed as he tried to rally support in other African nations.
Partisans of Somali clan warlords are not the only arrivals to abuse Canadian hospitality towards refugees. The Tamil Tigers selected Canada as the best place to transfer some of the supporters (and fund-raisers) as early as 1985. Several boatloads of Tamils (who reached Canada via India, the USSR, East Germany and West Germany) landed off the Canadian coast to claim refugee status.
It is ironic, given the frequent abuse of Canada's refugee system, that some real political refugees have difficulty getting the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to accept their claims. One case the author was involved in as a special witness concerned an Iraqi army deserter who was threatened with deportation to Baghdad on the eve of the 1991 Gulf War. Another case involved a Peruvian electrical engineer that was targeted by both the Army's counter-insurgency troops and by the Maoist guerrillas in the country.
Despite the problems presented by a tiny minority of new arrivals, Canada continues to draw in large numbers of immigrants and refugees.
Beyond the official figures, there are an unknown number of illegal aliens. Many of these entered on expired visitor or student visas. Others have been smuggled into the country, often with false documentation. Not all immigrants or refugee claimants take citizenship either. On average during the 1990s, only some 155,560 new citizens were sworn in every year. One might argue that Canada has rapidly generated a ''citizenship deficit''. This speaks volumes about Justice Wilson's decision and the worth of citizenship.
Although more new Canadians appear in the birth ward than at the nation's airports, immigration is a major component of population growth. Without immigration, the rate of natural increase would be very slight indeed . Between 1991 and 1998, Canada's population grew from 28,031,000 people to approximately 30,300,000.
Among other trends and examples:
Over 50% of new arrivals take up residence in Southern Ontario—mostly around the Toronto area. Vancouver and Montreal form two lesser areas of residence. While new arrivals to North America have always tended to gather in transitional communities, this extreme concentration allows for more of a ''critical mass' of active or potential security risks to form in a single area. As insurgent or criminal organizations first prey on their own ethnic community, this degree of concentration can accelerate their growth.
By 1996, some 219,425 Canadian citizens and residents were from Middle Eastern nations that have manifested Islamic Fundamentalist violence. This is up from 178,205 in 1991. The vast majority of these new Canadians are interested in building a new life for themselves and their families, but not all are harmless. The escape route for the World Trade Centre bombers lay through southern Ontario, where airline tickets and new identification were waiting for them.
The population of Tamil residents (almost all from Sri Lanka) grew from 31,000 to 67,000 in 1991–96. This number does not include illegal aliens, and the Tamil Tigers have a history of people smuggling. Most Tamils residing in Canada are often expected to contribute a monthly ''War-Tax'' to the Tigers
While not all Punjabi speakers are Sikhs (and a majority of Sikhs are not militant supporters of the homeland independence movement); there were over 200,000 Punjabi speakers in Canada as of 1996. Babbar Khalsa members have engaged in violence to suppress contrary opinions in the Sikh community and to control the funds from temples. Members who had gained Canadian citizenship also returned to the Punjab to support the insurgency.
Canada's law enforcement community has also had cope with supporters of the IRA and its Protestant counterparts; Armenian terrorists, Somali clans, militant Croats and Serbs. There is some internal terrorism in Canada coming out of a minuscule radical right and an equally irritating radical left (this last includes members of the Animal Liberation Front and ''Ecotagers''). The radical right is very badly organized, and groups like ALF have so far managed to avoid killing anyone.
What is more irritating to Canadians is the catholic nature of organized crime. Almost every criminal sub-society in the world has some presence in the country. As organized crime continues to make connections with insurgents and political militants, this problem may become more significant in the future.
SHRINKING SECURITY CAPACITIES
It would be wrong to demean the professionalism or skill of most members of Canada's police and security services . The same is true for the officers at Canada's Customs and Immigration desks. Many of them are far better people than Canada deserves.
However, it is difficult to maintain professionalism when efforts go unappreciated. Immigration officers, for instance, are too aware of their limitations. Police officers throughout Canada often lack the resources to battle organized crime or insurgent's fundraising activities. It frequently happens that significant intelligence is acquired on criminals or potential terrorists, but there is no money for prosecutions. This leaves many officers in the frustrating situation where they know what is going on, but are unable to act upon it.
One cardinal effect of this frustration is a steady drain in experienced personnel who frequently take advantage of their pensions or seek private employment. The personnel who tend to remain under such circumstances are either tremendously motivated or else are those who do not care much. The latter are often much more common. Newcomers then enter an organization that is less capable than it was earlier.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police operate as a National Police force, as police for federal property and on contract to most provinces as a provincial force. According to the Canadian journalist Paul Palango in his 1998 book The Last Guardians—the Crisis in the RCMP, the force has increasingly been expected to run along business lines. In a process that paralleled much of the decline in the Canadian military, senior RCMP officers became increasingly drawn into the civil service culture instead of remaining as a quasi-independent service under the Solicitor General of Canada.
The process described by Palango was recently echoed by Robert Head, a former assistant commissioner and 30-year veteran of the RCMP, in his November 1999 report The Politicization of the RCMP. Since the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney in the 1980s, the RCMP has been increasingly expected to work on ''community policing'' and ''client relationships''. Mounties have also been expected to volunteer for peacekeeping missions in Cambodia, Haiti, Africa and the Balkans—this during a time in which their budget has been shrinking. Both critics also claim that heavy political interference exists within the Force, particularly on cases involving commercial or ''White Collar'' crime.
In the autumn of 1998, a fundamentalist cult leader in northern Alberta, was (and remains) the leading suspect in a series of hundreds of incidents of vandalism aimed at nearby logging and gas activities. The local community, feeling threatened by a series of bombs on sour gas pipe-lines and rifle shots fired at pumping stations, was on the verge of vigilante action. The local detachment (for an area that had some 50,000 residents spread over 6,500 square kilometres) consisted of eight officers.
The detachment, albeit led by an extremely capable and much respected Sergeant, was barely able to keep pace with the investigation due to their normal heavy workload. Requests for an additional three officers had bogged down in months of petty wrangling between Ottawa and the provincial capital of Edmonton over funding and logistics. It is also revealing that the detachment commander had been, before his posting to a remote rural corner of Alberta, a leading expert in ''Proceeds of Crime''—following the money trail behind white collar and organized crime.
RCMP officers have complained to the author that political will is absent for many major investigations. One investigator went so far as to say in 1995 that if the potential value of seized assets might not exceed the costs of an investigation, it might not be undertaken. In one instance in 1999, a major investigation into a nation-wide narcotic smuggling network (centered in British Colombia) was halted by Ottawa for a lack of funds. The investigation only resumed when the Ontario Provincial Government volunteered some $ 6 Million in new funding.
Throughout the 1990s, the Federal government has been parsimonious. Despite a tax-rate that exceeds that of the United States, the federal debt (to say nothing of those accumulated by provincial and municipal governments) was around $580 Billion at the end of the 1997–98 fiscal year. Funding for most Ministries and agencies has generally diminished from budget to budget. In 1993/94, the RCMP's actual spending was $1,241.6 million. Planned spending for 2000/01 is $1,200.6.
The RCMP, already saddled with many obligations, cut deeply into its ability to investigate organized crime, white-collar crime and related activities. For a force facing hard choices, the decision makes sense. These investigations are complex, expensive, and often result in major legal battles once they reach court.
Another problem for the RCMP comes with the Federal Government's gun control bill. Note that as of March 1999, Canada has spent $216 million on a program to register all shotguns and rifles in the country. Another $95 million is apparently budgeted for FY99/00. (According to Reform Party MP Garry Breitkruz, repeated attempts to get exact figures have been obstructed.) Moreover, the equivalent of some 391 RCMP officers has been diverted from other duties to help manage what is turning out to be an unmanageable program.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, like the RCMP, belongs to the Solicitor General of Canada. It is an intelligence gathering organization primarily concerned with counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, and similar issues. The service is also expected to conduct all security screening for the federal government. Its officers are not police officers, do not carry arms and may not make their own arrests. However, its officers have greater powers of investigation than do those of the RCMP.
CSIS was formed in the early 1980s and by 1990 had something like 2,700 full-time equivalent personnel working for it. Currently, it has some 2,050 personnel—including transfers from the Department of National Defense who were brought in to help cope with a severe backlog in security screening. Funding has dropped. The annual budget for CSIS was $244 million in 1993–94, and is $168 million for the current fiscal year. Details of CSIS activities are rarely forthcoming and the organization's annual reports are a marvel of brevity. Secrecy is invoked for most of its operations.
Morale is reported to be low in ISIS. Most of the members that the author knows have left for other employment in recent years. The quality of the group's reports also seems to have fallen off. When first created, CSIS was staffed with many veteran RCMP officers from the Security Service. These were seasoned investigators with long experience in recruiting and running informers and confidential sources. Recruitment since 1985 has tended to focus in more of an academic direction, to the detriment of street experience.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service frequently finds itself short of members with the language and cultural skills to operate in some communities. One of the Agency's big successes in the early 1990s was in the recruitment of an agent provocateur within Canada's White Supremacist community. Since then, according to some members of the Agency, there have been repeated attempts to emulate this success with other groups. However, with less experience and a smaller budget, this has been difficult to arrange without sometimes attempting to coerce refugees with questionable claims.
Perhaps the worst example of the behavior of its current members concerns an analyst who placed a highly classified projection on major narcotics-related investigations in her briefcase. However, while attending a basketball game in the autumn of 1999, her car was burgled and the briefcase was stolen. Instead of immediately reporting the theft, she decided to wait until her return from vacation. The missing documents were never recovered. Moreover, instead acting instantly when informed of the threat, CSIS delayed its reaction for some days. While many CSIS officers do have a much more professional attitude, this episode speaks volumes about the current state of the organization.
Customs and Immigration Officers have endured considerable reorganization in the last decade. Immigration officers now come under the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (after splitting off some functions to Human Resources). Customs officers now work for Revenue Canada. Moreover, the fiscal austerity programs have also had an effect. During the reorganizations under the Liberal government in their 1993–97 term, some important capabilities were discarded.
Immigration used to have an orthodox but highly gifted set of investigators known, informally, as the Trackers. This group specialized in hunting down criminals who had evaded deportation, and potentially dangerous illegal aliens. One of their signal accomplishments was in finding a prominent American White Supremacist within nine hours of entering Canada, and subsequently ejecting him. The Trackers were entirely disbanded within days of the 1993 appointment of Sergio Marchi as Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. (As the minister, Marchi favored the appointment of refugee claimant advocates and immigration lawyers to the Immigration and Refugee Board—with predictable results.)
The Trackers must be missed. The January 1999 release of the Canadian Senate report on terrorism indicated that some 5,272 deportation orders could not be executed as the subjects for them could not be located by the Federal government.
Canada does deport hundreds of people every year (some of whom have been repeatedly expelled). However, even a half-hearted attempt at evasion can often succeed, provided the subject of the deportation order avoids arrest on separate criminal charges. Almost all of those who are deported are people who have been convicted (often repeatedly) for violent criminal offenses. Many cases are attended by lengthy legal battles, with considerable cost to the public purse in legal aid.
Another front-line organization that was disbanded in recent years was the Ports Police. Major ports can be a nightmare of overlapping jurisdictions and regulations, but the Federal Ports Police were designed to work in this environment. They also had extensive experience in coping with smuggling—especially in catching shipments of narcotics and illegal aliens. This experience is no longer available to the law enforcement community.
Hiring policies for both Customs and Immigration now appear to place the appearance of diversity over experience and education. Many new Canadians, often with questionable communications skills in either official language, now staff front-line desks. Whatever the merits in equal opportunity policies, this must represent an aggregate loss in capability.
Morale is low for other reasons. After some years of pleading for extra resources, especially in major smuggling zones around Cornwall and Wallaceburg Ontario, Customs officers have finally received body-armour. These used sets from Canadian and American police forces that adopted better protective gear. Canada does not arm its Customs officers lest visitors receive the wrong impression about the country. What visitors might think about the bullet scars on the Customs buildings at Walpole Island and near Arkansas is not recorded.
The Canadian Armed Forces have some role in internal security. Like the American NSA, the Canadian Signals Establishment (CSE) plays a role in communications security and the development of electronic intelligence. The organization is shrouded in secrecy and little is known about its actual budget, however, there have been rumors of low morale and major security breaches in recent months. There have been intimations of budget cuts, as the CSE recently floated a trial balloon over the idea of also providing services to major corporations. The balloon, predictably, was quickly shot down.
Canadian military assets, such as helicopters, logistics support, and extra manpower have been available to support the RCMP and other police forces in the past. However, the budgetary axe has fallen hardest and most frequently on the Department of National Defense. Morale is low, equipment is outdated, and personnel (especially from combat arms formations) are heavily over-taxed.
One unit that is, apparently, in fighting trim is Joint Task Force II, a body modeled on the British SAS and with many similar functions. While most military units are scrambling for training ammunition, field rations and adequate gear, JTF-II has the resources it requires. However, the force lacks much of the experience in ''Black Ops'' (counter-terrorism and the like) that attends the SAS. Worse, the troops that it does have are becoming heavily tasked.
LACK OF COORDINATION
Among the many Canadian traits that may require explanation to an American audience are an emphasis on government secrecy and a respect for privacy.
Civil Servants in Canada answer to elected cabinet ministers; who are in turn nominally accountable in parliament and ultimately to the electors. Consequently, any mistake or blunder on the part of a senior federal civil servant may result in major embarrassment for the minister in the House and in public. If accountability can be said to (ideally) flow in one direction, blame invariably flows in the opposite direction. Over the years, the main aim of any civil service ministry has become to avoid embarrassing their minister. This in turn has lead to a widespread penchant for secrecy in government service. As a result, most agencies are reluctant to share information on a regular or timely basis.
Canadians tend to value individual privacy, and expect to be able to keep it. Libel laws in Canada are tougher than they are in the United States, and the Supreme Court has frequently interpreted the law in ways that strengthen this right. In practice, if not necessarily in regulation, it is difficult to acquire court records, individual service records or welfare records in Canada
These traits have had some effect on Canadian security. For example, Canadian police have access to a national criminal data bank known as EPIC. To prevent abuse of CPIC records, for example, when a file is e-mailed or printed, the identity of the officer who requested it is always visible. Access to CPIC is generally restricted to police alone—in Canada. However, many Canadian agencies have bilateral relationships with their American counterparts. American police officers can access CPIC records, just as Canadian police officers can Use American records. American agencies tend to share access to information in a way that Canadians rarely do, with the net effect that—for example—an American customs officer can access CPIC files. As late as 1998, Canadian customs officers were still barred from CPIC access.
Outside of police circles, the routine sharing of information is less than it could be. The CSE, for example, is an extraordinary source of information, but only reports to the Privy Council Office (the small body of elite senior civil servants who support the Cabinet). When intelligence is passed on to other agencies, it has already moved—often slowly—through a set of politicized filters. Delays of this sort often damage intelligence work; the classic failure of intelligence is when the ''client'' refuses to believe what his officers are reporting. Inserting a political speed bump into the flow degrades the quality of information, adds a time delay, and may well block some material altogether.
The sharing of information inside some Ministries is worse. Citizenship and Immigration is divided into three regions that are very slow to share information with each other. If someone skips a refugee hearing in Quebec and moves into Ontario, it may take weeks (if ever) before Immigration officers in Ontario learn of it. For their part, those who duck their hearings usually will already have a Canadian driver's license—sufficient ID for almost all purposes in North America.
When CSIS was first created out of the RCMP's Security Service, it was intended that the group would work closely with the Mounties. In 15 years of practice, the relationship has not been harmonious—even through both report to the Solicitor General. This illustrates the natural jurisdictional disputes that occur between agencies under most circumstances, but Canadian groups face the additional handicaps listed above.
However, it must be pointed out that many Canadian agencies work better with their US counterparts than they do with other Canadian bodies. Immigration officers were able to identify a large number of Chinese Triad leaders entering Canada in 1994, apparently with the help of American authorities. It is also possible that the Canadian interception of Chinese boat people off British Colombia in the summer of 1999 was facilitated by US intelligence and surveillance resources.
Ottawa is capable of rapidly creating inter-agency task forces when necessary. Special task forces on specific organized criminal groups have been formed with RCMP, provincial and regional police input, with extra support from other agencies. These tend to have a particular purpose and can be short lived—Ottawa recently announced that it will no longer be involved in one task force on South Asian organized crime.
Another task force was formed to deal with a sudden influx of illegal Chinese aliens in British Columbia in the summer of 1999. These had paid ''snake-heads'' (people smugglers associated with the Triads), or else had promised indentured service. The military, the RCMP, the Coast Guard and Immigration officers all combined to handle some 400 new arrivals. Most are still in detention, as a majority of those who had been released from custody was rapidly smuggled into the United States by the Triads.
A standing task force appears to have attended the passage of Bill C68, a gun control bill designed establish a national registry for all rifles and shotguns. The RCMP has been working closely with Canada customs and several other agencies to closely scrutinize merchants, and observe the private passage of firearms (such as those belonging to hunters or recreation societies) into and out of the country.
What Ottawa refuses to do is create standing and permanent measures for inter-agency coordination and cooperation. The timely passage of information to, for example, the Immigration and Refugee Board from CSIS or the RCMP does not occur. Deportation orders do not appear to be instantly posted to the police forces across the country (or even to other Immigration Districts). Canada could do a better job of protecting its citizens.
OFFICIAL ANTIPATHY TOWARDS SECURITY
For most of its citizens, Canada is a safe country. Violent crime rates tend to be much lower (overall) than those of the United States. While Americans are largely focused on ''life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'', Canadians tend to expect ''peace, order and good government.'' Whatever historical and environmental causes lie behind this different focus, Canadians believe themselves to be a quiet and orderly people. Up to a point, this is true.
Few Canadians, aside from the few surviving veterans of the World Wars and the few thousand soldiers who have been peacekeeping in the 1990s, have actually confronted evil, and most consequently have difficulty believing it exists. There is a widespread belief that, because Canada is a peaceful country far from trouble spots, that Canadians are always safe.
Many citizens (and leading political figures) believe themselves to be compassionate, reasonable and intelligent. Without ever experiencing a personal confrontation with a dangerous individual, it is then easy to believe that all intelligent people must be likewise reasonable and compassionate. This fallacy is deeply entrenched in the Canadian psyche. It might almost be construed as a political ideology when it comes to diplomacy and defence policy, especially in recent decades.
It is difficult for many individual citizens to accept that malevolence exists. Consequently, when political (or quasi-political) violence occurs in Canada, it is often quickly forgotten—or readily forgiven. The Air India bombing, for all the Canadians it killed, was quickly interpreted as a problem for India, and not really for Canada. The Armenian takeover of the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa in 1985 has almost been entirely forgotten. The last terrorist act deliberately aimed at a Canadian target was in 1985, when an Air Canada office was bombed in Los Angeles by an Armenian. Before that, most Canadians, if asked, might recall the FLQ Crisis of 1970. Otherwise, terrorism is almost entirely removed from the public's horizon.
Ottawa shares the public's view on security issues. Spending on national security is often the first to be reduced. For example, of the NATO nations (excepting Iceland and Luxembourg), Canada's proportional spending on defense has long been the lowest in the Alliance.
Concerns about other problems, while present, receive a soft reaction. The first reaction by the current Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to the 1999 influx of boat people was to say that she was waiting for winter, as the bad weather would stop the influx. After due deliberation, Elinor Caplan traveled to Fujian Province as part of a mission to persuade would-be boat people not to take the trip.
In a modern cosmopolitan society, most citizens feel it is—at least—impolite to discuss issues relating to ethnic identity. The Liberal encouragement of multiculturalism has made political figures even more sensitive to this issue. Organized criminals and members of insurgent support networks are only too ready to exploit this weakness.
When Khagida Gurkhan (the wife of Mohammed Farah Aideed) was criticized by the media for misusing the welfare and refugee system, her first reaction was to label the critics as racists. Toronto's Black Action Defense Committee (a handful of activists who purported to speak for the entire black community), was silent on the issue of violence from the Jamaican Posses, but equally quick to denounce any police interest in the gangs. Strangely enough, BADC leaders attended the funerals of Posse members—but not those of their many innocent black victims. Only one Toronto daily was bold enough to guess at the significance of this relationship. The group had considerable access to members of the city and provincial government for some years.
When Ottawa first attempted to deport Manickavasamagam Suresh, a leader of the Tamil Tigers and one of their key fund raisers in Canada in 1996, the organization mobilized some 25,000 protesters in a series of demonstrations. Pro-Tiger Tamils put a pressure campaign on Toronto area members of parliament (especially on Cabinet ministers) to halt deportation proceedings and secure his release.
Interestingly, a Federal Court judge ruled on January 20, 2000 that Canada does have the right to deport terrorists even if they claim they will be tortured if returned home. Suresh should soon be in Sri Lankan custody and a senior Babbar Khalsa member (Iqbal Singh) was deported to Belize on January 6, 2000. It will have taken Canada six years to deport Iqbal Singh. Proceedings against Suresh took some five years.
Ached Ressam and Mohtar Haouri had both arrived in Canada via France in 1993. Both made refugee claims; and both failed—this in itself is somewhat unusual, more dubious claims have been accepted. Like Suresh and Singh, both claimed they would be tortured if returned to Algeria (probably true at the time). Both remained at large. Ressam became involved in an automobile theft ring organized by Algerian expatriates, many of whom were known to be sympathizers of the Fundamentalist uprising against the Algerian Junta. This in itself should have been a warning flag. Haouri's suspected involvement in weapons smuggling should have been another warning.
Canadian police were aware of the implications of these activities but were not in a position to take further action. Immigration Canada and various police forces were not in a position to share intelligence with each other and to draw reasonable conclusions from it. The regulatory environment prohibited taking any other action. In the end, Ressam ''deported'' himself, by driving across the American border with RDX explosive in liquid form and a sophisticated timing device for a bomb. We are fortunate that he did not kill anyone.
Terrorism and organized crime represent a significant challenge to Democratic Nations. They take advantage of our freedoms to advance their own interests, while undermining the system itself through violence and corruption. Addressing this challenge can itself result in a limitation of individual freedoms which threatens the common heritage of the United States and Canada. Action is necessary, but precipitate action is dangerous too.
In all fairness, reform is in the works. The recent Supreme Court decision on deportation is evidence that Ottawa is beginning to take internal security more seriously. Canada is involved in multilateral negotiations about stemming international organized crime, and has always been ready to share information with its allies and partners. However, until Ottawa is ready to take substantive internal action towards reforming its refugee system, and to redress the weakness of its police and security, its responses will be inadequate. Deeds, not words, are the requirement of the day.
Canada owes protection to its own citizens, and as a responsible neighbor, can not allow threats to the United States to develop on its own territory. We could do a better job.
Mr. SMITH. Ambassador Wilcox.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP C. WILCOX, AMBASSADOR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT (RETIRED)
Mr. WILCOX. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to join this discussion on a topic that is of deep concern to all Americans. The arrest last month of a suspected terrorist at the U.S.-Canada border reminded us of our vulnerablity to international terrorism. We asked ourselves, is this evidence of a growing threat, and what more should we be doing to prevent this danger?
Measuring the threat of international terrorism is increasingly difficult. It is a more amorphous phenomenon than in previous decades when states who sponsored terrorism and well-established terrorist organizations were the main actors. This is no longer true. The most active international terrorists today are loosely organized extremists who claim falsely to act on behalf of Islam. These terrorists follow a long tradition of terrorist extremists who have abused many different religions to justify political violence. The affiliation and motivation of the Algerian who was arrested in Port Angeles in December have apparently not yet been established.
So where is the bottom line in assessing the threat of international terrorism?
Mr. Chairman, there have been relatively few acts of international terrorism inside the U.S. Also, international terrorist attacks abroad against all nationalities have declined in the past decade. There were 666 such incidents in 1987, the peak year, compared to 273 in 1998. There were roughly the same number last year. Only a small fraction of these were against Americans. The number of American deaths suffered in international terrorist attacks has also declined sharply since the 1980's to less than 10 a year in the past decade. In measuring the threat of terrorism, we also must consider domestic terrorism with no foreign associations, like the bombing in Oklahoma City. This danger is at lest as great in my view, if not greater, than the threat of international terrorism.
In any case, statistics are not always an accurate measure for the damage caused by terrorism. A single major act like the bombing of PanAm Flight 103 that killed 193 Americans caused much greater trauma than many smaller acts combined. But compared to other forms of violence and mayhem, the probability of terrorist attacks against Americans is quite small. An estimated 13 American children are killed a day and many more adults by gunfire, vastly more than the comparatively minuscule number who are killed annually by terrorists.
But once again, statistics are not an accurate measure. Terrorism is designed above all to create fear. Its psychological and emotional impact, which is multiplied in our media-driven culture, is vastly greater than the relatively few casualties it inflicts would justify, from a strictly objective perspective. We must continue to fight terrorism aggressively because of its uniquely cruel and disruptive effects. But we should also be careful not to exaggerate this threat lest we inadvertently enhance the influence of terrorists and enlarge the fear they seek to create.
What more should we be doing to minimize the risk of terrorist attacks? First of all, I believe the U.S. has a very effective counterterrorism policy and programs, based on my former experience as Coordinator of Counterterrorism at the Department of State. The rule of law and the criminalization of terrorism are at the heart of American policy. We have broadened the scope and reach of our laws to investigate and prosecute terrorists abroad as well as at home.
We have very tough laws. But we have wisely resisted proposals to restrict the democratic freedoms and constitutional liberties of our citizens in order to fight terrorism. To do so would be a gift to terrorists whose values are profoundly anti-democratic. We have also worked hard to forge a growing international consensus against terrorism and to establish the principle that terrorism is a crime, whatever its political motivation.
We have had many successes. Cooperating with foreign governments and law enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, we have tracked down and brought to justice many fugitives responsible for some of the worst terrorist attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the World Trade Center.
The arrest of Ahmed Ressam in Port Angeles in December has raised new questions whether we need tighter controls on our land borders with Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. has benefited hugely from the flow of trade, tourism, shoppers, commuting workers, and family members across our borders with Canada and Mexico. I am concerned that additional controls could hinder this flow without providing extra assurance that this would stop the surreptitious entry of terrorists and other criminals. Besides the high costs such controls could create for the trade business and other ties we have with our neighbors, I understand new controls would require large new resources to implement. In considering any such changes, therefore, we need to balance the relatively few international terrorist attacks that have occurred and the limited scope of the danger against the additional costs such controls would impose.
The most effective way of minimizing penetration of our borders is effective cooperation with our neighbors. I can say in this respect that the U.S. and Canada have a uniquely deep and effective cooperative relationship in counterterrorism and law enforcement with multiple levels of contact betwen Federal, State, and local officials. These ties were recently strengthened by a joint computerized information system for sharing data on terrorists and other undesirables who might attempt to penetrate both countries. This is a superb relationship, Mr. Chairman, and it works very well. Of course, more can be done. But in seeking new measures to protect our security, we must balance the potential costs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ambassador Wilcox.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Wilcox follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PHILIP C. WILCOX, AMBASSADOR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT (RETIRED)
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee:
When alert U.S. Customs officials caught an Algerian named Ahmed Ressam trying surreptitiously to bring bomb-making materials into the U.S. at Port Angeles in December, Americans were reminded again of our vulnerability to international terrorism. As always in such events, we asked ourselves: Does this apparent attempted terrorist bombing indicate a new and growing threat? And is there anything more we should do in the future to prevent such dangers?
Measuring the extent of terrorism and the threat it poses is a difficult challenge.
Terrorists operate secretly. The pattern of their attacks is erratic and unpredictable. Today's terrorists are motivated by many causes, some of them difficult to fathom. In the past, terrorists usually identified their cause or group, but increasingly, they strike anonymously.
Established terrorist organizations and states that sponsored terrorism were behind most international terrorism in the 1970's and 1980's. But in recent years, ad hoc groups of terrorists, sometimes loosely linked, and often claiming to act on behalf of Islam, have been the most dynamic element in international terrorist attacks against the United States. These are deviants and fanatics who are betraying the tenets of Islam, just as other terrorists who have sometimes used Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and other religions to justify violence, have distorted and abused their faiths.
Islamic extremists were behind the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1993, a conspiracy to blow up the UN, the Holland Tunnel and Federal buildings in New York, another conspiracy in 1995 to bomb American passenger aircraft over the Pacific, and two bombings against American military personnel in Saudi Arabia. Many of these extremists fought in the Afghan war against the former Soviet Union or received training in Afghanistan. Some, but not all, of these terrorists are linked to Usama Bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian fugitive who has been indicted along with others for the bombings of our embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam on August 8, 1998.
According to press reports, Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian arrested in Port Angeles in December, and suspected accomplices who have also been arrested, may have ties to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, a terrorist organization that has killed thousands in Algeria. In the past, the Armed Islamic Group has not attacked Americans. I do not know if that organization has decided to strike at Americans. If so, that would be a worrisome development. But until the FBI completes its investigation, assigning blame to any group or organization for the December attempt would be premature.
How serious a threat to America is international terrorism? Measured by the number of international terrorist attacks in recent years, the threat is declining. International terrorism against all nationalities appeared to peak in 1987 when there were 666 such attacks, but declined more or less evenly to 273 in 1998. I understand the number for 1999 is roughly the same as for 1998, although the final data is not yet available.
The number of U.S. citizens who are killed or wounded by international terrorists is another measure of the threat. Since 1990, the average number has been about ten a year.
But statistics are not an entirely reliable guide to the international terrorist threat. A single event, like the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 in 1988 that killed 193 Americans and many others, shows that a single terrorist act can have a great traumatic impact.
Also, in measuring the overall impact of terrorism, domestic terrorism in the U.S. must be considered. Terrorism is not just an exotic foreign phenomenon. We have a long history of domestic terrorism in the U.S., including violence inspired by racial and religious hatred, anti-abortion killings, even violence by environmental extremists. The most serious threat of domestic terrorism appears to come from individuals and informal networks whose hatred of government inspires acts of violence. We were reminded of this danger in our midst by the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, that killed 168 people, the worst terrorism disaster for Americans in this decade.
We have been less precise in defining politically motivated crimes of violence in the U.S. as terrorism than we have such crimes against Americans abroad. Accurate statistics on domestic terrorism, to my knowledge, are not readily available. But domestic terrorism presents at least as great a threat to Americans as international terrorism, and perhaps a greater threat.
In assessing the threat of terrorism, the specter of biological, chemical, or nuclear terrorism, must also be considered. Thus far, there has been little terrorism of this variety, and the probability of mass attacks using such substances, based on past experience, is not high. Nevertheless, the potential consequences are so grave that the U.S. Government is taking major steps to prepare for and defend against such attacks.
Where, then, should we draw the bottom line in assessing the threat of all forms to terrorism to the U.S. and our citizens? The toll of casualties and property damage caused by terrorism, even when we include domestic terrorism, is modest compared to more mundane forms of murder and mayhem that Americans confront every day. For example, the average annual number of Americans killed by terrorism in recent years, international and domestic, is probably less than two dozen each year, whereas, according to press reports, thirteen American children are killed by gunfire each week.
But the threat of terrorism, both international and domestic, lies beyond its objective impact in numbers of people killed or injured or property damaged. Terrorism, among all forms of violent crime, is a peculiar evil, since it inspires fear and creates disruption far beyond the direct casualties is inflicts. Traditionally, that has been the essence of terrorism and the goal of terrorists—to create fear. The killing of innocent victims by surprise and at random, for political reasons, gives terrorism a particularly heartless and frightening character. This, and the spectacular drama of bombings, aircraft hijackings, and other major terrorist attacks, creates a unique and powerful psychological impact and a sense of collective vulnerability. Also, terrorism, as a compelling human-interest story, is intensely—and sometimes sensationally—covered by the media, far more than other more mundane forms of violent crime. This coverage multiplies the fear and emotional trauma that terrorism inspires, and thus enhances the power of terrorism.
It is the fear and disruptive impact that terrorism, both international and domestic, creates, more than the relatively modest number of casualties it causes, that makes terrorism such a threat to our sense of security and well being. This is one reason why our government, and those in other democratic societies, give such high priority to combating terrorism. There are other reasons, as well, for example, the harmful effect of terrorism on our foreign policy, and the economic toll it takes.
We must fight terrorism vigorously. At the same time, we should not exaggerate the threat it creates, awful as it is, lest we inadvertently enhance the influence of terrorists and enlarge the fear they seek to spread.
What more should the U.S. do to minimize the risk of terrorist attacks, international and domestic? I use the word ''minimize'' since it is not realistic to expect that we can eradicate terrorism altogether, any more than we can end other kinds of violent crime.
First of all, based on my former experience as Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State, I think the U.S. has sound counterterrorism policies and a very resourceful and effective counterterrorism programs.
The rule of law is at the heart of U.S. policy. Over the years, the Congress has enacted tough anti-terrorism laws that have strengthened our ability to investigate and prosecute terrorist crimes at home and abroad. Although we have broad and strong anti-terrorism laws, we have wisely resisted suggestions for changes in our laws that would curtail our civil liberties in order to monitor, detect and apprehend terrorist suspects. A weakening of our democratic, constitutionally protected, freedoms, would, of course, be a gift to the terrorists, whose values are profoundly anti-democratic.
The U.S. has also worked to strengthen international law, in the form of eleven treaties designed to combat a wide range of terrorist acts and strengthen international cooperation.
Also in the international realm, the U.S. is working with friends and allies to help spread the truth that terrorism is a crime and is an unacceptable as a form of political protest, whatever the cause. A zero-tolerance approach to terrorism is growing, in contrast to past decades, in Europe, in most of the Arab states, in Latin America and in Asia. But this process is still incomplete. For example, Afghanistan has thus far refused to extradite the terrorist suspect, Usama Bin Laden, and some governments have not fully abandoned state terrorism.
The U.S. has also helped build an international structure of anti-terrorism cooperation through an intensive process of consultation and cooperation between the State Department, FBI, CIA, Department of Defense, FAA, and their counterparts in scores of countries. As a result, more and more nations are working with the U.S. and other states to track down and punish terrorists.
The payoff for the U.S. has been success, working with friendly governments, in identifying and bringing to justice many terrorists involved in major terrorist crimes against the U.S. in recent decades. These crimes include the World Trade Center bombing, the bombing of Pan Am 103, the killing of CIA personnel and others at Langley, and the bombing of our embassies in Nairobi and Dar Es Salaam.
Solid teamwork here in Washington among counterterrorism professionals in State, Justice, FBI, CIA, Defense, Treasury, Energy, FAA and other agencies is another reason for these successes.
There were suggestions after Ahmed Rassam tried to carry bomb materials across the Canada-U.S. border that we should do more to control our borders against penetration. This incident has renewed the focus on Section 110 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that calls for automated entry and exit controls at all U.S. ports of entry.
The United States, as an open and democratic society, is more exposed to terrorism, both international and domestic, than authoritarian states. The process of globalization of trade, travel, and contacts at every level has created enormous benefits for our country. At the same time, it has also made it easier for international terrorists to roam more freely around the world. Yet we have stringent visa requirements for visitors from many nations. We have tightened our immigration and deportation laws in recent years to discourage entry by terrorists and other undesirables and to expel such elements. And we have effectively used computerized data banks and other electronic systems to screen out undesirables. Still, terrorists and suspects occasionally penetrate these defenses, entering from other continents and, as we saw in December, from Canada.
Such occasions have been rare, judging from the very few international terrorist attacks within the U.S. In my view, controls of the kind called for in Section 110 are not warranted by the extent of the danger, nor would they, it seems, have a significant effect on the entry of terrorists or other criminal elements into the U.S. Such controls, of course, would have no effect on domestic terrorism, and they would be very expensive, thus diverting resources from other more effective law enforcement and security programs. For these reasons, I recommend that Section 110 be amended to eliminate such controls.
I believe that Section 110 or other measures that would significantly restrict or slow traffic across the U.S. Canada and U.S. Mexico border could do more harm than good. These neighbors are two of our closest trading partners. Many North American industries are integrated and depend on rapid flow of exports and imports. The volume of visitors for family reasons, shopping, or tourism from these countries is also huge and lucrative. The economic cost and major inconvenience to Americans who cross these borders daily would be very high prices to pay for additional controls
A more effective means of minimizing the penetration of our northern and southern borders by terrorists is close cooperation with the Canadian and Mexican Governments.
Since Mexico has not been a focus of international terrorism, our border control relationship with Mexico has been more concerned with narcotics, illegal immigration and other crimes.
As for Canada, speaking from long and direct experience working with Canadian counterterrorism officials, I can assure you that the U.S. and Canada have a cooperative relationship in the area of counterterrorism that is in unique in terms of its closeness, multiple levels of contact, and success.
Our Federal law enforcement, intelligence, immigration and customs officials, and our police and other authorities at the state and local levels, have extraordinarily close relationships with their Canadian counterparts and cooperate literally around the clock. This relationship has been strengthened by a system of sharing computerized information systematically on undesirable elements that might attempt to penetrate our respective borders. The U.S. and Canada also have a valuable cooperative relationship for research and development of counterterrorism technologies.
At the policy level, the State Department works closely with Canadian counterterrorism officials in dealing with both bilateral and multilateral terrorism issues. These ties are the best insurance of protection of our northern border.
There are other areas, however, where the U.S. could to more to reduce the risk of terrorist attacks against Americans abroad, and to make it more difficult for international terrorists to move freely around the world and enter our country.
First of all, in my view, the Congress and the Clinton Administration have not provided adequate funds for protecting our diplomatic missions abroad, although the terrorists bombings of our embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in August 1998 were a cruel reminder that we are still vulnerable.
The Accountability Review Boards that were appointed to make recommendations after these bombings, chaired by retired Admiral William Crowe, in which I participated, recommended far more ample funding to build and reinforce American embassies overseas. Unfortunately, although funding has increased to some extent, adequate funds for safe embassies have not been made available because of overall limitations on State Department budgets.
If we are serious about terrorism, and I am sure we are, we must do a better job of protecting our foreign missions, which have traditionally been targeted by international terrorists. It is not fair to the men and women of many agencies who serve us abroad to do less.
Second, I believe we could do more in the way of anti-terrorism training and technical assistance to foreign governments who are exposed to terrorism, and whose countries are used as refuges or transit points by terrorists. For example, the State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program is a successful effort in this area, but it could be expanded. Since many terrorists rely on counterfeit passports or other forged documents, one area that deserves attention is technical and financial assistance to governments that lack modern, forge-proof passports and modern border control systems and technology.
Third, and finally, we must recognize that terrorism, like other forms of political violence, is often an extreme symptom of conflict caused by political, ethnic, economic and other factors. Effective counterterrorism cannot be a stand-alone policy that is limited only to diplomacy, law enforcement, intelligence and other programs of counterterrorism, per se. These programs are vital, but they are not enough unless we also address the root causes of terrorism.
This requires U.S. engagement in efforts around the world to deal with the root causes of conflict, especially, poverty, overpopulation, and environmental degradation. The U.S. is the world's wealthiest and most powerful nation, and we have enormous capabilities. Yet we are doing less in these areas to protect our interests that we were twenty years ago. The funds we spend on foreign affairs, the non-military side of national security, have been cut virtually in half, in real terms, in the last decade. These cuts have reduced our presence overseas and our ability to protect our interests abroad. They have limited our participation in many programs designed to create a safer, less violent world. For example, the U.S. now ranks 20th among nations on a per capita basis in the funds we spend on economic development assistance.
Restored funding for full U.S. engagement abroad will not, of course, stop terrorism or violence altogether. These are conditions of human life that will never be totally eradicated. But greater attention to the root causes of terrorism and political violence, and adequate funds for dealing with these causes and resolving conflict through diplomacy and other programs where the U.S. can make a difference, will help reduce the threat of international terrorism to our country and citizens.
Terrorist Threats to the United States
Oral Statement of Philip C. Wilcox, Jr. Before the Subcommittee On Immigration and Claims, Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, January 25, 2000
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee
The arrest last month of a suspected terrorist trying to smuggle bomb components across the U.S.-Canada border reminded us of our vulnerability to international terrorism. We asked ourselves: Is this evidence of a growing threat? And is there anything more we should do to prevent such dangers?
Measuring the threat of international terrorism is increasingly difficult. It is a more amorphous phenomenon that in previous decades, when states who sponsored terrorism and well-established terrorist organizations were the main actors.
This is no longer true. The most active international terrorists today are loosely organized extremists who claim, falsely, to act on behalf of Islam. The affiliation and motivation of Ahmed Rassam, the Algerian who was arrested in Port Angeles in December, have apparently not yet been established, or at least made public.
So where is the bottom line in assessing the threat of international terrorism?
Mr. Chairman, there have been very few acts of international terrorism inside the U.S. Also, international terrorist attacks abaroad against all nationalities have declined in the last decade. There were 666 such incidents in 1987, the peak year, compared to 273 in 1998 and roughly the same number last year. Only a small fraction of these were against Americans. The number of American deaths suffered in international terrorist attacks has also declined sharply since the 1980's to less than ten a year in the past decade.
In measuring the threat of terrorism, we should also consider domestic terrorism, like the bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 Americans. I believe this danger is at least as great, if not greater, than the threat of international terrorism.
In any case, statistics are not always an accurate measure of the damage caused by terrorism. A single major act, like the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, that killed 193 Americans, can cause much greater trauma that many smaller acts combined.
Compared to other forms of violence and mayhem the probability of terrorist attacks against Americans quite small. For example, an estimated 13 American children a day, and many more American adults, die by gunfire each day in non terrorist incidents, vastly more than the comparatively miniscule number who are killed annually by terrorists.
But once, again, statistics are not a very accurate measure. Terrorism is designed, above all, to create fear. Its psychological and emotional impact, which is multiplied in our media driven culture, is vastly greater than the relatively few casualties it inflicts.
We must continue to fight terrorism aggressively because of its uniquely cruel quality and its disruptive effects. But we should be careful not to exaggerate the threat, lest we inadvertently enhance the influence of terrorists and enlarge the fear they try to spread.
What more should the U.S. do to minimize the risk of terrorist attacks?
First of all, I believe the U.S. has very effective counterterrorism policies and programs, based on my former experience as Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department,
The rule of law and the criminalization of terrorism are at the heart or our policy. In the last decade, we have broadened and strengthened our laws to enable us to investigate and prosecute terrorist attacks on Americans abroad, as well as at home. Our laws are necessarily tough, but in shaping them, Congress has wisely resisted proposals that would compromise our democratic and constitutional liberties. To do so would be a gift to terrorists, whose values are profoundly anti-democratic.
We have also worked hard to forge a growing international consensus that terrorism is a crime that must be punished, whatever the political motive, and we have many successes. Cooperating with foreign governments, and law enforcement and intelligence agencies, we have tracked down and brought to justice many fugitive terrorists responsible for some of the worst attacks on Americans in recent years, for example, the World Trade Center bombing.
The arrest of Ahmed Rassam in Port Angeles in December has raised new questions about whether we need tighter controls on our land borders with Canada and Mexico. Specifically, it has renewed the focus on Section 110 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that calls for automated entry and exit controls at all U.S. ports of entry.
The U.S. has benefited in many ways from the huge flow of trade, tourism, shoppers, commuters, and family members across our borders with Canada and Mexico. I am concerned that the attempted controls in Section 110 could seriously hinder this flow without providing extra assurance that this would stop surreptitious entry of terrorists and other criminals. Besides the high cost such controls could create for the trade, business and other ties we have with our neighbors, I understand they would require very large resources to implement.
In considering any changes, we should focus on the fact that very few international terrorist attacks have occurred within the U.S. over the years, and there is no clear evidence that such threats across our land borders are rising. I recommend, therefore, that Section 110 be amended to exempt our land borders from the prescribed controls and that we look for other ways to enhance the safety of our land borders.
The most effective way of minimizing penetration of our land borders is close cooperation with the Canadian and Mexican Governments. Since Mexico has not been a focus of international terrorism, the bulk of my experience was working closely with Canadian law enforcement and counterterrorism officials.
Mr. Chairman, I can assure you that the U.S. and Canada have a cooperative relationship in counterterrorism that is unique in its closeness, multiple levels of contact and success. U.S. and Canadian officials at every level, Federal, state, and local, are in touch, literally around the clock, on border security and law enforcement issues. Recently these ties were further strengthened by a joint computerized information system for sharing data on terrorists and other suspects who might attempt to enter our two countries. This is a superb relationship, and it works.
What else can we do to prevent terrorist attacks on our citizens, at home and abroad? I will mention only two, given the shortness of time.
First, we need greater protection for our officials abroad against terrorist attacks. American embassies have been targeted many times by terrorists, most recently in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. Yet, notwithstanding these tragedies, security for our embassies is still being short changed. Surely we owe it to the men and women from many agencies who protect our interests abroad to solve this problem and provide adequate funding promptly.
Second, we need to recognize that counterterrorism cannot be an effective as a stand alone policy. We are working aggressively to investigate and punish terrorism. But we must also do more to address the root causes of terrorism.
Terrorism is often—though not always- a symptom of conflicts, political, economic and ethnic, that lead to political violence. Poverty, overpopulation, environmental degradation, and other ills of under development are breeding grounds for such conflicts. Although these conflicts and the violence they generate are often distant, they can directly affect our security.
Today, notwithstanding our great wealth and superpower status, we are investing about half of what we spent ten years ago on international affairs. I'm talking about non-military U.S. expenditures for diplomacy, and a wide range of programs that reduce conflict and protect our national security abroad. For example, today, we rank 20th in per capita expenditures on economic development assistance. Because of budget cuts, and we are less engaged overseas in areas where we can make a difference.
Mr. Chairman, a comprehensive effort to reduce the threat of international terrorist requiresnot only the effective counterterrorism programs we now have. It also requires adequately funded U.S. efforts overseas, to get at the roots of conflict and terrorism.
Mr. SMITH. We will now go to questions by Members. Just so that Members have advance notice, with this many witnesses, I suspect it will take at least two rounds of questions for us to address the witnesses we have present.
Ambassador Collacott, I would like to begin with you. You mentioned in your witness statement and in your comments a few minutes ago that a major obstacle is the existence of ''a highly articulate and influential lobby comprised in large part of refugee lawyers and advocacy groups whose funding is closely related to the continual settlement of significant numbers of refugee claims in Canada. A similar situation exists in the United States.''
I happen to agree with you, but would you elaborate on that point?
Mr. COLLACOTT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, yes.
It is—when I say ''lobby,'' it is a mix of different kinds of groups—refugee and immigration lawyers who represent refugee claimants, often at public expense, plus refugee advocacy groups who are legitimately, I think, trying to assist refugees. But many take the view that it is better to accept large numbers of potentially bogus claimants than risk turning back one genuine one. And they have an interesting series of techniques to win public support and influence the government.
One is the one I just mentioned where it is too risky to send back one person who might be tortured or killed. They also use another series. Most people come from developing countries, so there is the use of the race argument if people are turned back. That was tried on the Chinese boat people to get sympathy last summer. In fact, most of the Chinese community in Canada recognized this as wrong, and so then they were accused as having class differences. There are a whole series of arguments used.
The bottom line is, I think, refugee lobbies have been extremely influential. I think the main reason why successive Canadian Governments who have tried to introduce changes and improve the situation have been unsuccessful—I might say that both our countries have a strong and proud tradition of accepting people who really do need our protection, who are being persecuted. Unfortunately, the way that it is run, the system is open to widespread abuse and attempts by successive Canadian Governments' members to correct that have been largely eroded. We have a whole series of measures now on the books that we are considering. I would be very pleased if most of them are actually introduced.
Mr. SMITH. Ambassador Collacott, one more question. I have noticed from the Canadian media and also from a public opinion survey that was conducted in Canada just a few weeks ago, that concern about immigration policy was a close second in the minds of Canadian citizens. Given the people's concerns, given the media's concerns, in what way do you think the government should respond?
Mr. COLLACOTT. First, I would like to comment on that particular poll, Mr. Chairman. The level of concern went up in October after the Chinese boat people arrived to where 20 percent said this was their major concern, second only to health care, which is a very popular concern in Canada. By November, it had dropped to 7 percent. There is a lot of concern in Canada on these issues.
One of the problems in Canada is to maintain a sustained public debate, and informed and balanced public debate. That hasn't been possible up to now. I have been pushing for that through TV, radio, and newspapers to get that going. But it is dropping now off the radar screen, unfortunately, after hitting that unprecedented 20 percent. Again, in the longer term, people who advocate even looser requirements for our refugee system are persistent. They are employed in it full-time, and they have been very effective.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ambassador.
Mr. Emerson, why, in your opinion, is it so difficult for the U.S. and Canadian Governments to track the movements of suspected terrorists across their borders?
Mr. EMERSON. That is an excellent question. I don't know that I have a definitive answer. I think that one of the problems is the successful fraud in immigration claims in terms of coming to the United States either under fabricated credentials or with the lack of resources in the INS lookout system or with the disappearance of those who claim political refugee status and never are sufficiently brought to accountability. The ultimate result is that there is a massive porousness of our borders, not just with Canada, but also through the airports. As obviously is known by everybody, Ramzi Yousef, the person who was responsible for the World Trade Center bombing, came into the United States with a fake passport, without any visa, and he was offered political asylum or an opportunity for hearing on political asylum.
Yousef never showed up for his hearing. The fact remains that today we have a situation where there needs to be probably a creation or reinforcement of the national security emphasis at INS so that there are more resources dedicated to tracking those that come in under false pretenses or those that have suspicious backgrounds and shouldn't be granted visas to begin with.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Emerson.
My time is up. I am going to recognize the Congresswoman, Ms. Jackson Lee.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Might I submit the following items into the record, and I ask unanimous consent to have these records submitted.
It is a December 22 joint press release by the U.S. Attorney General and Solicitor General of Canada; a December 30 Department of Justice, FBI, and press release; a January 20 Washington Times article entitled, ''Don't blame Canada, U.S. And Canadian cooperation on terrorism works''; and a January 24 letter to Chairman Smith from CSIS Ward Elcock.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, those documents will be made a part of the record.
[The information referred to is on file with the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims.]
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me first pose a very brief question to Mr. Stubblefield.
I noted in your remarks you had terminology—this is not precise, but ''go out and seek terrorists'' or ''preemptive strikes.'' I wonder whether or not you might answer this question from your experience, whether you would agree that really the most effective way to prevent the admission of terrorists is to develop the ability to identify them and deny them access before they even reach the borders of our country, or in this instance, the United States. What is your perspective on that? I appreciate, because of the shortness of time, a brief answer.
Mr. STUBBLEFIELD. I think that the United States has to first rely very heavily on its excellent intelligence service. We have been fortunate to have some very good breaks from the intelligence service. If we could stop them before they get to our borders, we have made a great headway. There are times and situations, however, where there are some very serious acts that are being planned and perpetrated against us and trained for outside of our borders in nations that would be considered to enemies or ours or adversaries of ours. In those instances where we have absolutely definitive proof that things are being planned against the United States, I think that we have not only the right, but the obligation to protect our citizens by creating a preemptive strike.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. You are not talking about a broad policy of preemptive strikes morning, noon, and night. You are talking about refined, defined, specific, enunciated knowledge about a particular threat that might warrant such.
Mr. STUBBLEFIELD. Yes, ma'am. In every case, I believe it would be absolutely essential to have the firm intelligence that says that is what we are up against.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. So we wouldn't want to have any, if you will, policy—when I say policy, any law that needed to grant us preemptive strike authority, we need to look at this on a case-by-case situation.
Mr. STUBBLEFIELD. That is correct, case by case.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me thank as Ambassador Wilcox, and let me thank you for your leadership and work on counter-terrorism for such a long period of time. What level do you think that we need to be at to be secure with respect in this instance to the Canadian border?
Mr. WILCOX. I think that we need to be very alert. But we should not believe that we are under siege by international terrorists. We are not. If you look at the objective record of international terrorist attacks inside the United States, the number is quite small. But we can do more. We can't be satisfied if there is only one attack. One is too many. One thing we can do is to work more closely with foreign governments abroad to minimize the use of forged passports and travel documents and to spread the use of high tech foolproof travel documents. That is an area which would have a high pay off. It would take some money, but an assistance program of this kind would have an impact. Most terrorists travel with false travel documents.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. If you were in your previous position, how would you assess and analyze and then respond to the two incidents in particular that occurred around the beginning of the year, Seattle and New York? The Seattle incident and then the New York-Canadian border there were some individuals that were stopped travelling in a car without documentation.
Mr. WILCOX. I think the response of the U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, intelligence, customs, and border services were superb. The way that they worked very closely together is a credit to their professionalism.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. You think that was appropriate.
Mr. WILCOX. Absolutely.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have another meeting and I would like to yield the remaining part of my time to the ranking member of the House Banking Committee, Mr. LaFalce.
Mr. SMITH. I have to say that you are not recognized for that purpose, I would be happy to explain why. I mentioned to Mr. LaFalce a few minutes ago that I wouldn't be able to recognize him for questions. We have a tradition on the Judiciary Committee of being generous toward members who are not members of the Judiciary Committee or the Immigration Subcommittee. They are welcome in all instances that I am aware of to sit in on the hearing, but we limit questions to members of the committee itself. I would hate to disrupt that precedent for fear that we might have hundreds of members at our next hearing. So I would be happy to recognize you for questions that you yourself might ask.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me thank the chairman very much. I am disappointed, but I hope, Mr. LaFalce—if you have any questions in writing, I would be happy to assist you in that, and I appreciate your presence here in this hearing.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Jackson Lee.
We will now go to the Congressman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, for his questions.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I should preface the questions that I am going to ask with a comment, and that is that I firmly support and respect the sovereignty of our friend and neighbor, Canada. My questions about Canadian policy should not be interpreted as a criticism in any way, but merely as an effort to understand more about the situation in Canada so that we can formulate our policy in an educated fashion. So please, with that preface, let me ask some questions about the Canadian situation, first to Ambassador Collacott.
And that is, sir, if you could help me understand a bit about the Canadian Supreme Court decision, which I believe was in the mid-1980's, which has been widely interpreted as making it more difficult to restrain inappropriate immigration into Canada.
Mr. COLLACOTT. Thank you, Congressman Pease. Yes, this had a major impact. Basically, it was that a decision was made that anyone on Canadian soil, whether they are illegal or not would have some of the same rights as Canadians. The particular passage talked about everyone. One would have thought that meant Canadians or people there legally. But in fact it was interpreted by the Supreme Court as anyone, period, in Canada.
I raised this question before the corresponding committee of the Canadian Parliament last month. I said, well, logically, we might mean everyone in the world or even other planets. As a result of that interpretation, though, one of the interpretation was it required a full oral hearing. That helped establish the basis for this very elaborate and many-layered system that we now have.
One of the thoughts I have and many other people is that this has to be revisited, this interpretation. One Canadian journalist who just received the order of Canada, Jeff Simpson of the Toronto Globe and Mail, said that system threw the whole system into chaos. Essentially, it has been there ever since.
There are different interpretations of that. I think that we have to revisit it because that is one of the fundamental judicial decisions that has established the whole system and the way it is. It is not a very efficient, and in my view, a very effective system. We don't want to do away with the refugee process, but we want to have balance between providing the genuine protection for the people who need it rather than keeping up with a very large number of bogus refugee claims, some of whom may be terrorists and criminals that we are now faced with.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.
Mr. Emerson, you made reference to Algerian Islamic groups in your prepared remarks—and Ambassador Wilcox—because of your experience, I am wondering if each of you can help me better understand the ideology and activities, for instance, of the Armed Islamic Group and why in particular those groups or related groups feel an obligation to target the United States.
Mr. EMERSON. The Armed Islamic Group has not traditionally targeted the United States. Its ideology has been to supplant the existing regime in Algeria with an Islamic theocracy. It has carried out brutal executions of Algerians and other foreigners, mostly Algerian citizens and almost all of them Muslim over the past 7 years, 8 years. They have used the U.S. and Canada as a vehicle for fund-raising and for sanctuary. This is really the nature of the problem that has existed up until now.
It is a new phenomenon that they would target the United States, and it is clear, based on the indictment that was released last week, the superseding indictment, that they did bring the explosives into the United States for the purposes of carrying out a bombing campaign. The possibilities—I am only speculating here—is that, one, there is some type of cross-fertilization with Osama bin Laden, who has targeted the United States and continues to do so, and the Algerian Armed Islamic Group is a constituent member of his coalition and they trained actively with him. The second operating principal is, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. There has sort of been a transference of that ideological hatred as well; number 3, the opposition to U.S. policy in terms of the support of the current Algerian regime.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you.
Mr. WILCOX. I agree with Mr. Emerson that the Armed Islamic Group has no history of terrorist attacks against Americans and American interests. It would be a worrisome development if Ressam was an agent of the Armed Islamic Group carrying explosives across the Canadian border. I don't know whether that has been established. You have to refer your question to the Department of Justice.
The Armed Islamic Group's focus has been domestic terrorism inside Algeria, where they have killed tens of thousands of Algerian citizens. On the other hand, they have also carried out attacks in Western Europe.
I understand from the press that Mr. Ressam had also been engaged in other forms of criminal activity in Canada. It is possible that in addition to the hypotheses that Mr. Emerson mentioned, he was a hired gun who was serving some other unknown principal.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
Mr. Harris, did you have an answer that you wanted to provide as well?
Mr. HARRIS. An additional point in relation to the group which you are talking about, there has been considerable evidence, very dramatic, some of it dealt with the presence of the GIA in France. There was a major shoot-out there around 1996 that exposed a good deal of activity. Also within about the last year or so, there was a GIA network that appears to have been wrapped up in Belgium with succeeding prosecutions. So there is some evidence indeed of spread and connection that would very much catch our interest.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Harris, let me ask my next question to you as well. Actually this is two questions rolled into one. The first question is this: Many terrorist fund-raising organizations seem to take advantage of Canadian tax laws to obtain tax-exempt status that facilitates their fund-raising. What in the law enables them to do that, and how should the laws be changed, in your judgment?
Mr. HARRIS. Unlike the situation in the United States, there is no provision that allows the government in some form to designate countries or organizations as terrorist supporters in quite the same way as in the States. Therefore you can have groups and individuals in Canada going to the Government of Canada and applying for what we call a charitable organization status; in other words, the right really to be given donations for various causes without the person donating having to pay income tax on those donations. Anyway, the result is that through misuse you can wind up having people knowingly and otherwise donating to causes that amount to terrorist support. And because those dollars are, in effect, subsidized by the Canadian income tax system, we are the proud subsidizers of terrorism by inadvertence.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Harris, one more question. There is a phenomenon that I heard about recently called, ''TAI,'' Terrorist Agents of Influence. Is that a threat in Canada, and do they have influence on the Canadian Government?
Mr. HARRIS. I think this is an insidious concept. It is found in a number of countries. What it amounts to is an individual who may be connected to a terrorist organization and perhaps relies for resources on some of those ethnocultural communities who I spoke about who had money intimidated out of them and so on. These people can be Terrorist Agents of Influence, can work their way into positions of some influence in the governing political parties and thereby hold sway, in some respects as least, over the policies and decision-making of governments and major political parties. That is something that we are quite concerned about.
I might refer the subcommittee indeed to an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail of 10 February, 1999, which at least claimed that an individual who might have been associated with the bombing of the Air India flight, that that individual was claimed to have been brought around the House of Commons by a Canadian Liberal Party, governing party, M.P., who has supported some of his refugee claims at the same time as he was defined as a possible threat of the country, and who was photographed in the presence of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada. To make a long story short, these are extremely insidious concerns.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
Mr. Sands, in your written testimony and verbal testimony as well, you mentioned that the tightened security has returned to its previous state. That is a concern of mine as well. What can we do to be more proactive in reducing the threat of terrorism and not just becoming complacent?
Mr. SANDS. Well, I think part of that is a perception issue. I know that no one on the border who was working hard before is working any less hard. I really do think that we have sent—that we have an issue here where we have tried to discourage panic on the part of the public, which is a good thing. We don't want anybody to panic that they are suddenly not safe at home, but in trying to discourage panic, we have sent the message that it is business as usual.
I think what we need to do is show, through some sort of action on the part of the governments of Canada and the United States, that it isn't business as usual, that the issue is serious and there is new—something happening, some new activity, some new measure, some new attention. As others have testified, we have our Attorneys General and Solicitors General talking with so many of these bilateral groups. It has got to be something really forceful. The hearing helps, frankly. It moves in the right direction.
Mr. SMITH. Do you feel that Canadian public opinion is becoming more aware of the need to make some changes or to be proactive?
Mr. SANDS. I really do. It is a funny thing. In Canada, the Canadian Government faces a very divided opposition in Parliament. We have seen in the last year or so a regular phenomenon in which groups that are looking for more money out of the Parliament, now have a fiscal surplus this year, come to play the U.S. card. Well, we have to spend more money on this, or otherwise the Americans will get mad at us. That at least gets the government's attention.
We don't want to get caught in that domestic debate between different groups who want more money, but at the same time I think that the mood in Canada now is really that we have to do something, or the Canadians need to do something as well. So I think there is a good opportunity between our two countries now because we are focused on the problem, and we need to step in the void with something positive and proactive.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Sands.
Mr. Stubblefield, let me try to squeeze in a quick question here. In your testimony you say there is a growing likelihood of a chemical or biological attack. Just how great is that threat, and what should we do about it?
Mr. STUBBLEFIELD. First of all, the threat is very serious. If we have something like that, the loss of life is going to be far more severe and perhaps widespread because of transferring of disease and so forth.
Secondly, it is growing. Part of it is because we have the persona in the United States right now and places where we talk a lot about that. We have raised its issue. Because it is raised, it is almost like a copycat thing where we start getting people more aware of it, and therefore the terrorists are more aware, and we may end up with an incident just out of exposure.
Thirdly, how do we combat this? The best thing we can do is to keep our intelligence services very active in this regard, and the second thing that we can do, and we are working very hard on this, is to develop technologies that will help us to identify and detect these kind of agents and substances that would enter into the United States.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Stubblefield.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, is recognized.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to direct this question to Mr. Sands, but I would like the thoughts of Mr. Thompson and Ambassador Wilcox as well.
Mr. Sands, in your written materials and in your oral presentation, you discuss the concept of a broadly-based binational commission or entity to review and make recommendations on joint action by the U.S. and Canada, knowing that there are already a number of bilateral activities taking place in pieces of this puzzle. Why is it that you believe this proposal or at least this concept is something that should be taken up at this time?
Mr. SANDS. Partly it is similar to my responses to Congressman Smith in the sense that I think proactivity is important to show here. So having a new commission sounds like, oh, great, another talk shop, but at the same time I think it shows something new.
Secondly, I think there is a lot that we can each do domestically. The Canadians have a lot they can do in terms of dedicating funding to initial personnel to clear refugee applications and make sure that they are people who should be approved or not approved, making sure that there are adequate resources to their legal system so that it appeals the process quickly, those kinds of issues. And also legal reforms. Those are very hard for either country to adopt in isolation from the other.
Part of what I am hoping is a binational commission would bring together the kinds of people who could look at domestic reform as well, and the pressure for reform would come because it was mutual. We both agree that we are going to take steps at home and agree that they would dovetail nicely in some common front. So it is joint action, but also a commission that would look at domestic action as well. I think that is the kind of thing that we need to do.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Sands.
Mr. Thompson, your thoughts.
Mr. THOMPSON. Besides the general shortage of resources that has been inflicted on our police and security forces, their big problem is a lack of cooperation and a lack of joint action between them. The RCMP gets along fairly well with American police forces. It does not talk to CSIS. CSIS gets along with people in the FBI and your other organizations and does not talk to the RCMP. Customs officers often have a good working relationship with their American counterparts on their posts, but an American Customs officer, for example, can access the Canada CPIC data system. The Canadian one is forbidden to look at it.
Clearly, the solution that we need to improve our act is increased cooperation. And by being constructively engaged by more American authorities, that might force that cooperation within Canada.
Beyond that, the major problem is political will. Again, by being constructively engaged with more American agencies, that might have to force them to take more action.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Thompson.
Mr. WILCOX. I would support even more intensive U.S.-Canadian scrutiny of these problems because they involve not just terrorism, but many other cross-border ills. If indeed there are controls that would work effectively and whose costs would not exceed the gains, this should be considered. But it is far from clear that such controls could have prevented the crossing of Ahmed Ressam last December.
The other areas that needs a clear focus is external refugee admission and asylum policies, too. In both countries, indeed, I think there is progress that could be made in strengthening and tightening these laws that would protect the manifest benefits of refugee and asylum that both our countries offer, that and guard against abuse of these benefits by terrorists and other criminals.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much.
Mr. Thompson, in your written materials, one of the examples that you gave of the situation that you just made reference to orally was the disbanding of Canada's immigration trackers and Ports Police. Can you explain a bit more about what function they served, and why they were disbanded, and who has picked up that responsibility since?
Mr. THOMPSON. The trackers were a group of very unorthodox, but highly experienced and very skilled investigators who went out to serve extradition papers on people and get them out of the country. In one of the classic cases, an American white supremacist had come into Canada to talk to our neo-Nazi community. He is one of those people who took people who have talked about doing things and turned them into people who did things. Within 9 hours of his crossing the Canada border, they located him and placed him back in the United States. Within hours of the appointment of the new Customs Immigration Minister in 1993 with the new government, they were disbanded utterly. Since then there has resulted—in January of last year, we had almost 6,000 deportation warrants that had never been fulfilled, plus, of course, a number of other people we couldn't locate.
Currently, if you are a refugee with a questionable claim and decide to duck your hearing or your hearing was rejected, by the time your hearing has come up, you already have a driver's license and some other essential pieces of ID. You can function anywhere in Canada, indeed within North America, with that ID. The only way you come to the notice of the authorities now is if you are arrested for criminal behavior, in which case a police force might check immigration records and find out that this person is due for extradition. Even then it is often happenstance.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
Mr. Thompson, let me go to a specific program that I have heard about in Canada called the Immigration Trackers and Ports Police Program, which has been disbanded. Why was that disbanded?
Mr. THOMPSON. The new Minister in 1993 was actually quite a partisan of the immigration lobby that another witness described today. In fact, he took the immigration review boards and salted them with members of that lobby. I think groups like the trackers had probably attracted the ire of members of that lobby, and that had a large part to do with that. As far the Ports Police, I think it was a straight up cost-cutting measure. I remember that the austerity regime has characterized Canadian spending in the last few years has had a lot of effects. The RCMP cannot finish major investigations without extra funding.
Mr. SMITH. Would those kinds of programs be helpful in reducing the threat of terrorism?
Mr. THOMPSON. I think something like the reinstitution of the trackers would be extremely useful. Ports Police again would probably be useful. But I think just generally overall coordination between all of our agencies is the most important thing.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Thompson, one more question. You may have anticipated this a little bit. In your statement you said, ''In the end Ressam deported himself by driving across the American border with explosives in liquid form and a timing device for a bomb. We are fortunate he did not kill anyone. Terrorism and organized crime represent a significant challenge to democratic nations. Canada owes security to its citizens and, as a responsible neighbor, cannot allow threats to the United States to develop in its own territory. We could do a better job.'' .
That gets to the obvious question of how we could do a better job and what programs would be helpful. You started to answer that. Do you have anything to add as far as what could be done?
Mr. THOMPSON. I think increased funding, especially for the RCMP. Increased funding for CSIS would also be useful, but someone would have to sit the two organizations together and tell them they are going to cooperate in the future a lot better than they have now. In fact, one story that emerged in the Globe and Mail today I was reading while I was waiting for the aircraft was that CSIS had erased 2 hours of prime interviews with people who were involved with the Air India bombing because they didn't want to hand it over to the RCMP.
There is a lot of stuff that has to be done. The real problem has to be in addressing our refugee system. We have to actually accept the fact that our refugee system is being abused, and perhaps there are people who should not be allowed off the plane rather than being given a chance for a hearing within 18 months.
Mr. SMITH. Ambassador Wilcox, would you respond as well to what measures you think should be taken? Should the refugee system be reformed, and is additional funding needed? I know that is the case in the United States. I wonder if you feel that is the case in Canada as well.
Mr. WILCOX. I can't speak from deep experience concerning refugee and asylum laws, but I believe there is a need to tighten these laws and procedures which are sometimes abused by foreigners who have no genuine claim to asylum or refugee status.
I also understand from my former colleagues in government that the Immigration and Naturalization Service does need more funding to carry out its responsibilities. The situation in North America in some ways is analogous to that of the European Union. We have an increasingly integrated three-country association here with massive internal traffic and trade and intercourse. The European Union has the same thing, and it has been a tremendous blessing to them as it has been to us. Their solution to security is to tighten the external borders of the European Union as a collective group of nations. I think that should be our approach as well.
Let me mention one other thing, Mr. Chairman, which is not in the—directly in the province of this committee. But I think in attacking terrorism we have to go further beyond law enforcement preventive/reactive measures. We have to go to the root causes of terrorist violence in remote countries which can ultimately strike at our own interests.
In the last 10 years we have cut our international affairs budget by 50 percent. We are less able today to engage in conflict resolution to attack all of those ills in the world which lead to violence and terrorism for lack of resources. We are the world's existing—only existing superpower. We are an immensely capable and wealthy Nation. We can afford to do more to protect our interests abroad and to reduce the specter of violence and terrorism that ultimately can strike at Americans.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ambassador Wilcox.
I don't have any further questions, and I understand Mr. Pease does not either. Mr. Harris has raised his hand.
Mr. HARRIS. I am sorry. There was one point to raise that may allay some fears and concerns in relation to the RCMP and CSIS. The fact is that there is an effective regional program that is under way. Many outside the Security and Intelligence Community, particularly journalists, don't know the ins and outs of this. Some of the questions or things that you see about Air India, for example, destruction of files, that relates to some constitutional requirements of the new Constitution of the early 1980's imposed on Canada and the holding of information.
The other thing is the question of the Canadian police intelligence computer and cooperating with information on the police side to the intelligence side. The fact is that issue has largely been resolved, so there is good cooperation now.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
Let me thank you all for your contributions today. This was an important record to establish. We have had expert testimony from seven individuals that is going to be helpful to Congress, and, I hope, also helpful to our neighbors to the north in determining how we proceed to reduce that threat of terrorism.
Let me say also that you all, so far as I know, have been part of a history-making hearing today. I don't know of any other hearing that has occurred when the government was officially closed. As Mr. Thompson put it, it was because of a very minor snowfall compared to those that occur in Canada, but nonetheless, it feels good to be active and to address a major issue even if the government is shut down. I believe also this may well be the first hearing of the year by any committee in Congress. So as I say, we are off to a good start, thanks to your help.
Now it is up to the governments of two countries to follow up on your suggestions and to make sure that we do reduce the threats of terrorism for the citizens of both countries.
Thank you all again, and we stand adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:55 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
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