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May 21, 2004 - Image 103

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-05-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Los Angeles International Airport.
To Bell, the Ressam case illuminates
the significant differences between the
ways Canadian and American officials
have reacted to terrorists.
"CSIS was aware of him since 1995
and was watching him, but they never
put him out of business," Bell said.
"On the other hand, the second he
entered the United States, he was
stopped, arrested and turned into a
very good government informant.
According to Bell, Canadian security
officials have good intelligence-gather-
ing mechanisms, but until recently
lacked effective legal tools to battle
domestic terrorists. But he noted that
recent counter-terrorism legislation
should strengthen the government's
hand — provided it develops the
political will to act.
Francois Jubinville, a spokesman for
Canada's Privy Council Office, noted
that the government has committed
more than $8 billion to enhancing
national security since December 2001
and has further demonstrated that it is
"coming onstream" by releasing a new
national security policy in Ottawa.
"Certainly the national security poli-
cy is the clearest sign possible of how
seriously the government takes the
security issue and how committed the
government is to tackle any threat to
security head-on," Jubinville said.
Paul Martin, who replaced Jean
Chretien as prime minister in
December, recently established a new
Ministry of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness, and put
Deputy Prime Minister Anne McClellan
in charge of it, Jubinville noted.
Until relatively recent times, fund-rais-
ers for terrorist groups have been able to
raise millions of dollars in Canada
because most Canadians don't realize
where their money is going, Bell said.
"The primary targets are outside of
Canada. We don't see the final explo-
sions, so we don't come face to face
with the violence," he said.
Bell, who grew up in Vancouver,
said he was deeply affected by the
1985 Air India terrorist bombing, in
which Canadian-based perpetrators
blew up an aircraft carrying hundreds
of people. The case is still before the
Canadian courts.
Though he had written about ter-
rorism for years, Bell said he never
fully grasped the subject until two
years ago, when he walked through an
Israeli pool hall that had been devas-
tated by a Hamas suicide bomber.
The bombing killed 16 people and
injured scores.
"A guy with a green garbage bag was

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collecting pieces of people," Bell said.
"I remember thinking, 'How could
someone walk into this crowded room
filled with innocent people, look them
in the face and just obliterate them?"'
During one of several journalistic
stints in the Middle East, Bell also vis-
ited Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut,
but said he was not overly fearful of
putting himself in Hezbollah's hands.
"You have to remember that terror-
ism is a psychological act as much as
anything. Those that foster it are inter-
ested not only in the killing but in the
message," he said. "So it's surprising
how open these organizations often are
to meeting with journalists and explain-
ing where they're coming from. To an
extent, I exploit their need to talk."
In Toronto, however, the award-win-
ning reporter has received enough
threats that the newspaper has put
security precautions in place to protect
Bell and his family.
"He sparks controversy among those
who believe that anyone arrested on a
terrorist charge has been wrongly
accused," the National Post's managing
editor, Mark Stevenson, said. "There
are a lot of people who don't like what
he does because he reports the news."
Bell's articles also generate many
appreciative phone calls and e-mails
from readers who regard the issue as
one of primary national concern,
Stevenson added.
"He's a good, old-fashioned news
reporter and investigative journalist.
He gets it first and he gets it right." ❑

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"Cold Terror" spotlights Jamal Akkal, a
former university student from Windsor;
Ontario, who was arrested in Gaza last
summer for Hamas-related activities.

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