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June 4, 2006
This ... Is GJN

As more information comes to light about the terror cell in Toronto smashed by Canadian authorities, the picture emerging is that of a global jihadist network that apparently does not require professionalism or guile to join. As this episode shows, any group of Muslims filled with enough hate for motivation can work through the Internet and a system of mosques to find like-minded terrorist wannabes and the resources to make their dreams come true:

A Canadian counter-terrorism investigation that led to the arrests of 17 people accused of plotting bombings in Ontario is linked to probes in a half-dozen countries, the National Post has learned.

Well before police tactical teams began their sweeps around Toronto on Friday, at least 18 related arrests had already taken place in Canada, the United States, Britain, Bosnia, Denmark, Sweden, and Bangladesh.

The six-month RCMP investigation, called Project OSage, is one of several overlapping probes that include an FBI case called Operation Northern Exposure and a British probe known as Operation Mazhar. ...

The Toronto busts are linked to arrests that began last August at a Canadian border post near Niagara Falls and continued in October in Sarajevo, London and Scandinavia, and earlier this year in New York and Georgia.

The FBI confirmed Saturday the arrests were related to the recent indictments in the U.S. of Ehsanul Sadequee and Syed Ahmed, who are accused of meeting with extremists in Toronto last March to discuss terrorist training and plots.

This should send chills through Western populations and open eyes as to the nature of the terrorist enemy. Seventeen native-born Canadians, whose families apparently had no connection to radical Islam, managed to plug themselves into a network that spanned six nations and literally went around the world, despite their amateur status. How did this happen? How can a group this large and inexperienced make such inroads into a jihadi network?

In short, the network itself has become so decentralized that it is almost as easy as plugging a laptop into a wide-area network jack, figuratively as well as literally. With the demolition of al-Qaeda's functional leadership, the lack of direction has moved the jihadi movement from the hills of Afghanistan to a system of mosques and imams, preaching their own brand of hatred. Young men looking for a cause or an outlet for their frustrations can easily find these Muslim supremacists. If they can't find them physically, they can certainly find them with just a few minutes on the Internet. This particular group found each other, and then found like-minded prototerrorists in five other nations, including the US.

The above is the bad news. The good news is that the rapid decentralization of Islamic terror has led to a rapid decline in the discipline and quality of the jihadis. The Canadians caught up with this group two years ago and have followed them closely, apparently never tipping their hand to the seventeen bright lights they arrested yesterday and the day before. By monitoring their Internet communications, they not only discovered this cell but also others around the world, all of whom have now been neutralized as threats. The increasing reliance on amateurs like the Toronto 17 makes it more likely that we will continue to root out their partners, wherever they may be.

After a couple of months of agonizing over the efforts made by agencies to monitor communications traffic for terrorist contacts, this should explain why such efforts remain necessary. As long as the West wishes to remain free, it has to find ways to detect and neutralize those threats that, if their plans were ever realized, would push us towards greater restrictions than ever before. We need to demonstrate to the amateurs that they have no percentage in attempting to organize for terrorist attacks. This six-nation effort has made that point.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 4, 2006 9:02 AM

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