After the arrest of Ahmed Ressam, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration
held hearings in January 2000. Several experts, including David Harris,
criticized Canada's immigration laws as overly lax and called for stricter
security at the U.S.-Canada border.
This January 1999 report (released almost a year before Ressam's foiled bomb plot) is
from Canada's Special Senate Committee on Security and Intelligence. It calls
Canada "a 'venue of opportunity' for terrorist groups: a place where they may
raise funds, purchase arms and conduct other activities to support their
organizations and their terrorist activities elsewhere. Most of the major
international terrorist organizations have a presence in Canada. Our geographic
location also makes Canada a favorite conduit for terrorists wishing to enter
the United States, which remains the principal target for terrorist attacks
This link to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks contains a Flash presentation that details various border entry points
and the amount of traffic coming through each crossing every year.
(Located in "Special Sections" box.)
The Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and
Government Information held hearings on Oct. 12, 2001. Experts testified on
the potential of using advanced technologies, including biometrics, to
recognize terrorists and criminals upon their application for U.S. visas.
Based upon an Italian prosecutor's 100-page investigative report, this
report from the Center for Public Integrity details the cooperation among
suspected bin Laden cells in Europe. And it notes that in a raid on Ahmed
Ressam's Vancouver apartment, police found the telephone number of a key
suspected Al Qaeda operative in London.
In this article published before the Sept. 11 attacks, Yoram Schweitzer of the
International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism describes the
import-export modus operandi of Al Qaeda. He uses the example of Ahmed Ressam's
training in bin Laden's Afghan camps to illustrate how Al Qaeda attracts
Islamic revolutionaries to Afghanistan and then exports them to carry out
operations elsewhere. Schweitzer writes, "Operatives are initiated into the
doctrine of the international Jihad, but are not given any direct orders by
al-Qaidah's leader on how to implement their terrorist missions. Thus bin Laden
is able to wash off his hands of the terrorist attacks, after they are either
carried out or foiled. "
Ahmed Ressam has been linked to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), an Algerian
extremist group that began conducting terrorist attacks when the government
overturned the victory of an Islamic political party in the 1992 legislative
elections. This excerpt from the U.S. State Department's Patterns of Global
Terrorism 2000 report describes the GIA's origin and activities.
The website of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism
contains a chronology of GIA attacks from 1988 to 2000.