Project Thread was a Canadian police operation that resulted in the arrest of 24 immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area in 2003 amidst incorrect allegations they formed a threat to national security, and maintained "suspected ties to al-Qaeda".It was later determined that police had based their operation on "flimsy evidence and stereotypes".
The Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is the most populous metropolitan area in Canada. It consists of the central city, Toronto, along with 25 surrounding municipalities distributed among four regional municipalities: Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. According to the 2016 census, the Greater Toronto Area has a population of 6,417,516.
National security is the security of a nation state, including its citizens, economy, and institutions, which is regarded as a duty of government.
Al-Qaeda is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national organization founded in 1988 by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and several other Arab volunteers during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
After investigating an unregistered diploma mill, police had seized a copy of the names of the 400 students who had attended the school and arrested 24 of them, allegedly gathering the Muslim names off the list and finding dubious connections between them to report as a disrupted terrorist plot.Among the accusations, authorities alleged that the "al-Qaeda sleeper cell" had experimented with explosives, that one had taken flight training and others had been seen loitering around the Pickering power plant, and may have been targeting the CN Tower in Toronto. After criticism that the Muslim community in Canada had ignored the plight of the falsely accused men, 18 different men from the Greater Toronto Area were arrested three years later by Canadian authorities and charged with almost identical offences.
A diploma mill is a company or organization that claims to be a higher education institution but provides illegitimate academic degrees and diplomas for a fee. These degrees may claim to give credit for relevant life experience, but should not be confused with legitimate prior learning assessment programs. They may also claim to evaluate work history or require submission of a thesis or dissertation for evaluation to give an appearance of authenticity. Diploma mills are frequently supported by accreditation mills, set up for the purpose of providing an appearance of authenticity. The term may also be used pejoratively to describe an accredited institution with low academic admission standards and a low job placement rate. An individual may or may not be aware that the degree they have obtained is not wholly legitimate. In either case, legal issues can arise if the qualification is used in résumés.
The CN Tower is a 553.3 m-high (1,815.3 ft) concrete communications and observation tower located in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Built on the former Railway Lands, it was completed in 1976. Its name "CN" originally referred to Canadian National, the railway company that built the tower. Following the railway's decision to divest non-core freight railway assets prior to the company's privatization in 1995, it transferred the tower to the Canada Lands Company, a federal Crown corporation responsible for real estate development.
According to Canada's 2011 National Household Survey, there were 1,053,945 Muslims in Canada, or about 3.2% of the population, making Islam the second largest religion in the country after Christianity. In the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), 7.7% of the population is Muslim, and in Greater Montreal, 6% of the population is Muslim. A majority of Canada's Muslim population follows Sunni Islam, while a significant minority adhere to the Shia and Ahmadiyya branches. The change in the demographics is shown.
Eventually the government backed away from its initial alarms of terrorism, and re-labeled the case a simple charge of "immigration fraud".When they were eventually deported from the country, despite the admission they "faced the possibility of persecution", the men found themselves harassed and threatened by a country that now believed they were terrorists.
The men claimed that their lawyers and friends had been threatened and harassed by Canadian authorities.Critics claimed the arrests had been "trying to placate US security officials".
The men were held at Maplehurst Correctional Complex.Each was also noted as having the name Muhammad in their full name.
Maplehurst Correctional Complex is a correctional facility located in Milton, Ontario for women and men 18 years of age and older. It is a combined maximum security detention centre for remanded prisoners, and medium/maximum correctional centre for offenders sentenced to less than two years. There is also a serrate wing for minors In 1972, the government started a $13.5 million construction project for the Maplehurst Correctional Centre. It was completed in 1974 and continues to operate to this day. Sod was turned on the project on February 9, 1973.
All of the men had entered the country on student visas between January 1998 and September 5, 2001, and a number of them had cited Ottawa Business College (OBC) as their chosen institution. The former director of the school which had closed in 2001, Luther Samuel, admitted to selling C$700 registration letters to approximately 400 immigration applicants to improve their ability to apply for residence in Canada, and offering small amateurly produced courses across six rented classrooms. When the students expressed fears this was just a diploma mill taking thousands of dollars in tuition money from them, the director assured them they were just in a small branch of a larger downtown school.Those who left the school, realising that it was a scam, said they were afraid they would lose their immigration status if they reported the situation to police.
The investigation began when suspicions were raised about Khalid Jahinger, who left Lahore, Pakistan to travel to Nanaimo, British Columbia, on a student visa in December 1998. He moved to Ontario where he studied at OBC and George Brown College. He travelled to Mexico City to apply for permanent residency, which must be done from outside the country, where his C$40,000 bank account — inheritance from his recently deceased father — raised eyebrows and led to the beginning of the investigation. In May 2003, police stormed his apartment and arrested him and his roommate Aamir Nadeem and held them for five months until they volunteered to be deported to end their detention. Upon his return to Pakistan, Jahinger was questioned for eight full hours and released.
The remaining students at OBC were under investigation for months by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Immigration services.
The first 19 arrests, carried out by an anti-terrorism taskforce,occurred on August 14, 2003, targeting 18 men from Punjab, Pakistan and one from southern India.
The later arrests involved the following;
For five days following the arrests, the men were held incommunicado and not allowed access to lawyers.It was ten days before Pakistani consular officials were notified about the arrests.
The men were initially asked to give Canadian interrogators the location of Osama bin Laden, despite the fact they protested that they had never had any contact with militants or been to Afghanistan.One was accused of having given money to Global Relief Foundation, a charity later blacklisted for supporting Islamic militancy. An apartment "linked to the men" was also alleged to have had a poster of airplane schematics on the wall, as well as a picture of guns, while another apartment had an "unexplained" fire in the kitchen leading to claims that it "could" have been from testing explosives.
Immigration official Stephanie Mackay stated that several of the men had travelled to the United States between May 2001 and January 2002, noting that the September 11th attacks occurred in that timeframe, leading the National Post to announce a possible link between the immigrants and the terrorist attack.
Aziz was the first of the men to be given a legal hearing, at which he was denied bail.The following day, Mohammad Akhtar was released on C$10,000 bail.
A number of the arrested men appeared "confused" at their bail hearings, and did not have legal representation. Some voluntarily offered to be deported.
Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Reid Morden was interviewed by the CBC, and stated that the arrests were legitimate, since the agency needs "only to suspect someone of being a threat before it can act".
Once in Pakistan, Muhammad Asif Aziz, Muhammad Wahid, Kashif Siddiq, Imran Yunus Khan and Mudassar Awan announced their intentions to sue the government of Canada for falsely accusing them of terrorism and ruining their lives.Canadian politician Diane Ablonczy argued that the arrests had made Canada less safe, since the embarrassment would leave law enforcement skittish in the future.
The Khadr family is an Arab-Canadian family noted for their ties to Osama bin Laden and connections to al-Qaeda.
Abu Faraj al-Libi is an assumed name or nom de guerre of a Libyan alleged to be a senior member of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. His real name is Mustafa Faraj Muhammad Muhammad Masud al-Jadid al-Uzaybi. He was arrested by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on May 2, 2005, in Mardan. Finding al-Libi was a joint effort of the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) Special Activities Division and Pakistan's Special Forces.
Abdullah Ahmed Khadr is a Canadian citizen who is the oldest son of the late Ahmed Khadr, alleged to be a terrorist and al-Qaeda member. Khadr has admitted buying weapons for al-Qaeda, but maintains that he was on friendly terms with its leaders due to his father's prominence in Pakistan and Afghanistan and was not a member.
In Canadian law, a security certificate is a mechanism by which the Government of Canada can detain and deport foreign nationals and all other non-citizens living in Canada. The federal government may issue a certificate naming a permanent resident or any other non-citizen suspected of violating human rights, of having membership within organized crime, or is perceived to be a threat to national security. Subjects of a certificate are inadmissible to Canada and are subject to a removal order. Where the government has reasonable grounds to believe that the individual named in the certificate is a danger to national security, to the safety of any person or is unlikely to participate in any court proceedings, the individual can be detained. The entire process is subject to a limited form of review by the Federal Court.
Abu Qatada al-Filistini, born Omar Mahmoud Othman in 1959/1960, is a Salafi cleric and Jordanian national. Abu Qatada was accused of having links to terrorist organizations, and frequently imprisoned in the United Kingdom without formal charges or prosecution before being deported to Jordan, where courts found him innocent of multiple terrorism charges.
Hassan Ahmed Almrei, a Syrian citizen, arrived in Canada in 1999 claiming refugee status. He has been since held, and accused of terrorist connections and ideology, for his "reputation... for obtaining false documents", and his relationship with Ibn al-Khattab following time shared together during the Civil war in Tajikistan. He had "not supported Khattab financially or otherwise", but "admired Khattab... had pictures of Khattab on his computer; and visited Chechen extremist websites".
Mohamed Harkat is a native-born Algerian and permanent resident of Canada who was arrested in 2002 on suspicion of ties to terrorism and was imprisoned under security certificates. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) alleged that he entered the country as a sleeper agent for al-Qaeda.
Mahmoud Es-Sayyid Jaballah is an Egyptian who has been detained in Canada without charge on a "security certificate" since August 2001 due to his association with members of al-Jihad. He has consistently asserted that he does not believe in violence, and just because he phones or visits people, does not mean that he shares their beliefs.
The 2006 Ontario terrorism case refers to the plotting of a series of attacks against targets in Southern Ontario, Canada, and the June 2, 2006, counter-terrorism raids in and around the Greater Toronto Area that resulted in the arrest of 14 adults and 4 youths . These individuals have been characterized as having been inspired by al-Qaeda.
Mohammed Ali Dirie was one of 17 people connected to arrests on June 2 and June 3, 2006, in the 2006 Toronto terrorism arrests. He was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison. In 2013 Dirie was reportedly killed fighting in the Syrian Civil War although his death has not been conclusively verified.
Rashid Rauf was an alleged Al-Qaeda operative. He was a dual citizen of Britain and Pakistan who was arrested in Bhawalpur, Pakistan in connection with the 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot in August 2006, a day before some arrests were made in Britain. The Pakistani Interior Minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, claimed that "he is an al Qaeda operative with linkages in Afghanistan". He was identified as one of the ringleaders of the alleged plot. In December 2006, the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities, and his charges were downgraded to forgery and possession of explosives.
Anser Farooq is a Canadian defence attorney based in Mississauga, Ontario, who gained notability defending suspects during the 2006 Ontario terrorism plot.
Saeed Sobrahatollah Muhammad Rasoul and Masoud Rasoul are Kurdistani-Canadian brothers who are alleged members of the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam. Former worshippers at Salaheddin Mosque, it is alleged they may have been recruited to fight in Iraq by Hassan Farhat. They went missing in northern Iraq in 2003.
Amr Mohamed Hamed was a Canadian who died in the American bombing of an Afghan training camp on August 20, 1998, as retaliation for the African embassy bombings.
An Egyptian resident of British Columbia, Essam Hafez Mohammed Marzouk arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1993 as a refugee fleeing persecution in Pakistan. He was one of 14 people subjected to extraordinary rendition by the CIA prior to the 2001 declaration of a War on Terror.
The 2009 New York City Subway and United Kingdom plot was a plan to bomb the New York City Subway as well as a target in the United Kingdom.
Najibullah Zazi is an Afghan-American who was arrested in September 2009 as part of the 2009 U.S. al Qaeda group accused of planning suicide bombings on the New York City Subway system, and who pleaded guilty as have two other defendants. U.S. prosecutors said Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaeda's head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, an al-Qaeda operative, ordered the attack. Both were later killed in drone attacks.
The D.C. Five is a group of Muslim Americans from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with suspected ties to terrorism. The five men were detained on December 9, 2009, during a police raid in Pakistan on a house with links to a militant group. In part of an increasing trend in homegrown terrorism, they were in their late teens or early twenties.
Rimsha Masih is a Pakistani girl from Islamabad, who was arrested by Pakistani police on blasphemy charges on August 2012 when she was 14 years old. The alleged charges included desecrating pages of the Quran by burning—a crime punishable by death under Pakistan's blasphemy law. She is a member of Pakistan's Christian minority.
The 2013 Via Rail Canada terrorism plot was a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in and against Canada in the form of disruption, destruction or derailment of trains operated by Canada's national passenger railway service, Via Rail Canada. The alleged targeted train route was the Maple Leaf, the daily train service between Toronto and New York City operated jointly by Via Rail and Amtrak. The two suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, were arrested on 22 April 2013 by the RCMP and subsequently charged by the Crown in connection with the plot. Neither one is a Canadian citizen.