True North Initiative: News Scan 10 09 17


Prosecutors reveal thwarted plot to bomb Times Square, New York subway

Federal authorities revealed Friday they had arrested and charged three men in connection with a 2016 plot to carry out bombings and shootings in crowded areas of New York City, then kept the court case under seal for more than a year as investigators worked. The alleged scheme was more nefarious than many: The group, which wanted to attack Times Square and the New York City subway system, claimed to have been in touch with an Islamic State affiliate to obtain the official sanction of the terrorist group, prosecutors said. (Washington Post)

Canadian pleads guilty to terrorist charges in New York City: U.S. authorities

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York says the Canadian, identified as Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, of Mississauga, Ont., has been in custody since the FBI arrested him in New Jersey in May 2016. The arrests were first announced Friday following a court's unsealing of federal terrorism charges against the three men. A spokesman for the justice department said late Friday that the case needed to be sealed for more than a year to protect the ongoing investigation, but he did not elaborate. (National Observer) (National Post) (Globe and Mail)

Guilty plea in New York shows Canada not immune to reach of ISIS

Experts say the guilty plea from a Canadian teenager who admitted to plotting to bomb major landmarks in New York City underscores the fact that Canada is not immune to the growing global reach of terrorist networks. Officials in the United States released details of Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy's guilty plea on Friday, months after it was heard by a New York court. (CTV)

Canadian’s involvement in New York terror plot highlights Islamic State’s global reach: experts

Experts say the guilty plea from a Canadian teenager who admitted to plotting to bomb major landmarks in New York City underscores the fact that Canada is not immune to the growing global reach of terrorist networks. Officials in the United States released details of Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy’s guilty plea on Friday, months after it was heard by a New York court. (Global)


A terror suspect from the Philippines charged with funding an attack in New York City in the name of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has warned that his country is a “breeding ground for terrorists.” The Justice Department said that 37-year-old Russell Salic, who was arrested in the Philippines in April, suggested that other Filipino jihadis were plotting to attack the West, including major U.S. cities. (Newsweek)

CBSA's most wanted: drugs, sex and terror

There are hundreds of foreign-born criminals wandering the streets of Canada. They are ruled inadmissible, then vanish into the ether. Take Somali national Abdulahi Sharif, 30, if you will. Sharif is accused of stabbing an Edmonton cop then tried to ram his car into innocent bystanders. Beside him, he had an ISIS flag. He was granted refugee status in Canada in 2012 after being ordered booted from the U.S. (Toronto Sun)

Trump administration cites Edmonton attack in call for immigration changes

The Trump administration wants to change the immigration rules that allowed a man accused of perpetrating a terrorist attack in Edmonton last month to evade a U.S. deportation order years ago and come to Canada. The White House also wants to tighten security along the U.S. border with Canada as part of a plan to toughen immigration controls across the country. (Globe and Mail)

Holocaust monument plaque that didn't mention Jews to be replaced

Days after it was unveiled, the space for the dedication plaque at the National Holocaust Monument is empty, marked only by bolt holes. The plaque's now in for a rewrite, after failing to mention Jews or the Jewish people, the prime targets of the Second World War genocide. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dedicated the monument last week and complaints about the original plaque were quick to come. (CBC)

Canadian-Iranian sentenced to 5 years in Iran for espionage

Iran's judiciary has confirmed that Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, a member of Iran's team of nuclear negotiators that struck the 2015 deal with world powers, has been sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of espionage. The Sunday report by the semi-official Fars news agency quotes spokesman for the judiciary Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei as saying that Esfahani will serve a 5-year prison term since he was "linked to two intelligence services." The report did not elaborate. (CTV)

Iran promises 'crushing' response if U.S. designates Guards a terrorist group

Iran promised on Monday to give a “crushing” response if the United States designated its elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group. The pledge came a week before President Donald Trump announces final decision on how he wants to contain Tehran. He is expected on Oct 15 to decertify a landmark 2015 international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, in a step that potentially could cause the accord to unravel. (Reuters)


OTHER STORIES (Domestic and International)

Most asylum seekers now waiting 16 months to have claims heard

They survived a dangerous trek through Colombia and Panama and dodged human smugglers in Nicaragua, and now Guled Abdi Omar and Abdikadir Ahmed Omar are navigating the uncertainty and backlog in the bureaucratic jungles of Canada's refugee system. Like the majority of people hoping to call Canada home, the two Somali asylum seekers — who walked across the Canada-U.S. border near Gretna, Man., in July — have no idea when they will get their opportunity to argue their claim in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board. (CBC)

Deradicalization must be tailored to Canadian cities, says expert

The radicalization of young Canadians is most often a local problem that requires programs tailored to specific cities, towns or even neighbourhoods. That's one the preliminary findings by the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence. (CBC)

One problem with the new citizenship oath: Citizens can’t really violate an Indigenous treaty

In a measure likely set to debut next year, the Canadian citizenship oath will soon include its first-ever reference to Indigenous people by including a pledge to “faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples.” The change was recommended by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and had wide support among government-convened focus groups. There’s just one problem; you can’t really “faithfully observe” a treaty. (National Post)

Canada blasted for ‘needlessly punitive’ immigration detention system

The UN has been asked to push Ottawa to establish an independent body to oversee the Canada Border Service Agency’s handling of immigration detainees. A group of prominent human and civil rights organizations has filed a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the eve of its periodic review of Canada’s domestic human rights conditions and records. The review, scheduled for early 2018, is conducted once every four years. (Toronto Star)

Unscrupulous recruiters keep migrant workers in ‘debt bondage’

Convinced by friends that Canada’s low-wage temporary foreign worker program would provide a better life for her family, Gina Bahiwal borrowed $6,000 to pay a recruiter in the Philippines to take care of paperwork and get her a job. Within nine months she was in Leamington packing vegetables for minimum wage, signed to a two-year work permit that tied her to an employer — and to a Canadian job recruiter who collected more money, she was told, to cover rent and utilities, in an apartment of the recruiter’s choosing. (Toronto Star)

Proposed anti-discrimination bill covers genetics, immigration status, police records

Discriminating against someone on the basis of their genetics, immigration status, social condition and police records would be a violation of their rights in Ontario under a proposed bill introduced in the provincial legislature. The private member's bill, tabled by Liberal legislator Nathalie Des Rosiers, would expand and modernize Ontario's human rights code which was first established in 1962. If passed, the legislation would add the four new areas of rights protection to the code and give anyone discriminated against recourse they currently don't have at the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. (CTV)

Syrian refugee family displaced by Mississauga townhouse fire

Khaled Alawad and his family moved to Canada in pursuit of a better life. Now, they are struggling to comprehend how to start over again. They moved from Syria less than two years ago. (Global)

Medically unfit for deployment? We'll try to employ you elsewhere, says Canada's top general

The Canadian military is redesigning itself to make room for troops who may not be "deployable," but are still "employable," the country's top general said.  The remarks by Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, represent a social and cultural sea change for an institution that has been accused of discarding injured members who, in some cases, have begged to continue serving. (CBC)

Federal cost to fight lawsuit from moms denied benefits tops $2.5 million

Federal lawyers have racked up a legal bill of more than $2.36 million fighting a group of women who allegedly were wrongly denied sickness benefits while they were on maternity leave. The costs, revealed in an access to information request filed by The Canadian Press, show the Justice Department added about $300,000 to its bill between early 2016 and last June to fight a case the Liberals once vowed to drop. (Ottawa Citizen)

Canadian ambassador's Myanmar security detail draws ire amid accusations of atrocities against Rohingya

Human-rights groups are sounding the alarm over a diplomatic trip the Canadian ambassador to Myanmar took part in because security for the delegation was provided by a police force accused of atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, including sexually assaulting them and burning their villages. (Globe and Mail)

Trump says N. Korea diplomacy has failed, 'Only one thing will work'

US President Donald Trump said Saturday that diplomatic efforts with North Korea have consistently failed, adding that "only one thing will work." Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un, trading insults amid rising tensions between the two nuclear-armed rivals. (Yahoo)

Trump unveils new strict 70-point immigration enforcement plan

Determined to finally solve illegal immigration, the White House submitted a 70-point enforcement plan to Congress Sunday proposing the stiffest reforms ever offered by an administration — including a massive rewrite of the law in order to eliminate loopholes illegal immigrants have exploited to gain a foothold in the U.S. (Washington Times)

North Korea's Kim Jong Un boosts his family's power by promoting his younger sister

Kim Jong Un has taken another key step to consolidate his family's control over North Korea, elevating his younger sister to the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers' Party and moving her closer to the center of the leadership. Kim announced that his 30-year-old sister, Kim Yo Jong, had been promoted during a weekend of festivities celebrating the Kim family's grip on the totalitarian state, and amid expectations of a new salvo of missiles. (Toronto Sun)

'We want revenge': Meet the Yazidi women freeing their sisters from Isis in the battle for Raqqa

A big red Sinjar Women’s Protection Units (YJS) flag, with its spiky yellow sun on a green background, in the middle. Next to it, a bronze picture frame with photos of martyred friends, and below that, a picture of a male soldier killed fighting. To the left, a poster of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. (

ISIS Fighters, Having Pledged to Fight or Die, Surrender en Masse

The prisoners were taken to a waiting room in groups of four, and were told to stand facing the concrete wall, their noses almost touching it, their hands bound behind their backs. More than a thousand prisoners determined to be Islamic State fighters passed through that room last week after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. Instead of the martyrdom they had boasted was their only acceptable fate, they had voluntarily ended up here in the interrogation center of the Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq. (NY Times)



Candice Malcolm: Leftist politicians put ideology ahead of no-brainer pipelines

The Energy East pipeline should have been a no-brainer. The $15.7 billion proposed state-of-the-art pipeline would have been exactly the type of infrastructure upgrade that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada needs. Our political leaders, at all levels of government, should have jumped at the opportunity to work together and ensure this piece of critical infrastructure was built. (Toronto Sun)

Lorrie Goldstein: Cause and effect

TransCanada’s cancellation of the Energy East pipeline demonstrates that elections matter and we get what we vote for. Or at least what Liberal voters voted for. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in January he wants to “phase out” the oil sands and transition Canada to a low carbon economy. (Toronto Sun)

Charles Adler: Montreal mayor dances on the graves of Alberta jobs

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre is elated at the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline, taking partial credit. The mayor who has been the strongest opponent in Quebec of the pipeline that would have carried Alberta bitumen from Alberta to the Atlantic coast, said he was proud of work done by those who tried to stop it. (Global)

Richard Florida and Joshua Gans: The Trump effect: It’s Canada’s moment to win the global race for talent

Google's Sidewalk Labs subsidiary has apparently chosen the Toronto waterfront as the place it will create a veritable city of the future, developing and prototyping new technology-enabled ways of working, living and getting around. And Toronto is placed at or near the top of many short lists for Amazon's new second headquarters, over which more than 50 communities across North America are competing. (Globe and Mail)

Toronto Star: There’s room for more: Canada should raise the bar on immigration

Canada’s immigration minister, Ahmed Hussen, has until the end of this month to set out the country’s target for immigration in the coming year. He should be bold. There’s growing evidence that ramping up the number of newcomers we accept from around the world is one of the best ways for Canada to meet the challenges of a falling birthrate and aging population. (Toronto Star)



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