OTTAWA - The Mounties made arrests or otherwise disrupted 25 suspected terrorist and other national security threats last year.
An RCMP performance report for fiscal 2012-13 offers no additional details other than that the “disruptions” involved suspected “terrorist criminal activity, or other criminal activity, that may pose a threat to national security in Canada and abroad.”
One of the cases is likely that of former Navy Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle, caught in January 2012 with selling allied military secrets to the Russians.
Another probable case is Mouna Diab, 26, of Laval, Que., charged in July 2012 with supporting terrorism after an RCMP investigation linked her to an alleged scheme to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Police disruption techniques typically range from arrests and trials, to search-and-seizure raids and “intrusive surveillance” in which police make it obvious to suspects they are being watched.
Disruptions without charges or prosecutions is a controversial practice that some believe strips suspects of the legal right to due process. Critics believe it also is sometimes abused by government security intelligence officers who do not have sufficient evidence to request that police mount criminal investigations and prosecutions.
Police say prosecutions are the preferred path but aren’t always feasible, especially cases based exclusively on intelligence that falls short of the evidentiary threshold required by criminal courts. Disruptions also are a way to evaluate the force’s counter-terrorism effectiveness and to help justify the expenses of often lengthy and complex investigations, they say.
A case is considered disrupted when police remove an individual or group’s known capability to operate within Canada, either through arrest or other measures.
Disruptions typically fall into three categories:
Operational disruptions, which almost always involve arrests and charges, target the instruments or processes behind a suspect terrorist group or individual.
Personnel disruptions target individuals in a group or acting alone and can involve laying criminal charges not directly related to terrorism. It also could, for example, involve placing a person’s name on Canada’s no-fly list as a suspected threat to aviation security.
Financial disruptions target the ability to fund an operation. For example, the RCMP launched raids in 2006 and 2008 against the property and bank accounts of the Toronto and Montreal offices of the World Tamil Movement, which the Mounties say is the Canadian financial and propaganda support wing of the outlawed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
In a 2011 case, Revenue Canada revoked the charitable status of the World Islamic Call Society, which the RCMP suspected of transferring money from Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi to terrorists’ bank accounts.