Canada arrests 17 on terrorism charges


Seventeen Canadian residents arrested on terrorism charges were inspired by al-Qaeda, had amassed enough explosives to build huge bombs and were planning to blow up targets in densely populated Ontario, police said.

The group possessed three tonnes of ammonium nitrate -- or three times the amount used in the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City that killed 168 -- and were preparing to make bombs, Mike McDonell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said

Police arrested 12 men and five young people. The adults were from Toronto and a suburb Mississauga, and from Kingston, Ontario.

At a news conference, police showed off a haul they described as bomb-making equipment, including white sacks of fertilizer, a cell phone in a box with wiring, a board apparently used for target practice, a computer hard drive and army fatigues.

"This group posed a real and serious threat," McDonell said. "It had the capacity and intent to carry out attacks. ... The modus operandi is very similar to other attacks that have taken place around the world and other threat of attacks."

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said in an e-mail: "There is preliminary indication that some of the Canadian subjects may have had limited contact with the two people recently arrested from (the US state of) Georgia."

In Atlanta, a 21-year-old man was arrested on March 23 for giving material support of terrorism. Later, a 19-year-old man was arrested in Bangladesh and returned to the United States, where he was charged with lying to federal officials.

The US Justice Department said the two suspects had traveled to Canada on March 13, 2005, to meet with Islamic extremists. The two "... met with three subjects of an FBI international terrorism investigation and discussed strategic locations in the United States suitable for a possible terrorist strike," a statement said.