"...Ressam's story and its unsettling implications--such as his ease in fooling
the immigration authorities in Canada, how simple it was to get money and
bomb-making materials, how efficiently terrorist conspiracies can operate--are
the focus of tonight's Frontline...
...[I]t's both useful and startling to see this much information about the web
of international terrorism in one concentrated hour of television. The
production gets hokey in spots--visual effects and dramatic music--but not
Perhaps the most chilling comment in the hour comes from one of Canada's former
security officials: 'In terms of Islamic extremists in Canada,' says David
Harris, 'they regard the proximity of Canada to the U.S. as making Canada kind
of an Islamic-extremist aircraft carrier for the launching of major assaults
against the U.S. mainland.'"
"...[A] fascinating, chilling, though often poorly produced installment of
Frontine. The documentary includes a few tacky re-creations and presents Mr.
Ressam's testimony clumsily, with actors reading bits of the transcript while
we see an artist's drawing of the courtroom.
But the contents of this swiftly told report make it thoroughly absorbing, as
it follows Mr. Ressam's path from Algeria to France and Canada, then to the bin
Laden camp and back to Montreal through the Los Angeles airport. Produced by
the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the program has a decidedly Canadian
point of view, which turns out to be an advantage. Freeing viewers from the
familiar United States perspective, the documentary creates a powerful sense of
terrorism's global reach..."
"...Remember the so-called millennium bombing plot? At least part of it was
imminent, and that trail is traced in alarming detail tonight by the Frontline
folks, in cooperation with the Canadian Broadcast Corp. It's an ironic
partnership, really, considering how it reflects the two countries' twisted
ties in the conspiracy the program's investigation inventories so
The key thread is disaffected Algerian 'refugee' Ahmed Ressam, who was
apprehended Dec. 14, 1999, off a Victoria-to-Washington state ferry
transporting a trunkful of high-powered explosives he planned to detonate at
Los Angeles International Airport...
.Frontline seems to show us every scrap of paper or the electronic equivalent
that ever touched Ressam's life: stolen baptismal certificate, apartment lease,
immigration forms, passport, ATM surveillance photos, motel check-in, rental
car receipt, phone calls, even precisely what he bought with his credit card
(lozenges and Tylenol to soothe chemical-induced irritation).
Nearly all this fascinating information is, however, acquired in hindsight.
Tracing these movements backward is a lot less encouraging than being able to
project them forward to stave off whatever calamity they're aimed at
orchestrating. As Canadian immigration minister Elinor Caplan notes early on,
'We look at the case and say, "What did we learn from it and what can we do
better in the future?"' Let's hope something, since a 'Canadian connection'
enabled both Ressam's thwarted plot and the all-too-successful attack of Sept.
11. Canadian Security and Intelligence Service strategic (planner David Harris
warns that terrorists are using Canada as 'kind of an Islamic extremist
aircraft carrier for the launching of major assaults against the U.S.
home + introduction + inside the plot + canada: a safe haven? + crossing the border
links & readings + join the discussion + video excerpt
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