Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – January 25, 2013

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  • More Mali (1)  The CF’s Globemaster’s ferrying troops, hardware until just after Valentine’s Day “(Yesterday), the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird extended Canada’s assistance to France through the extension of one CC-177 Globemaster aircraft until February 15. This aircraft is available to France to move equipment and personnel to Mali’s capital, Bamako. This aircraft and Canadian Armed Forces personnel will not be part of combat operations.  Canada will continue to monitor events in Mali and the Sahel ….” – more here, here, here, here, here and here 
  • More Mali (2)  Nigeria wants more Canada (and more)  “Nigeria’s ambassador to Canada, Ojo Maduekwe, on Thursday pressed his hosts to further reinforce French and African troops battling Islamist rebels in Mali.  In an interview with the daily Globe and Mail, the ambassador said Nigeria and other West African nations, which have committed 3,700 troops to the fight, need the military backing of Canada and other Western nations.  “What is required here is global political will, and global resources far beyond the capacity of African states, to see this thing as a common threat and deal with it,” he said.  “Rather than waiting for this thing to get worse, the time to deal with it is now, by a more imaginative, bolder and more creative response. An incremental approach ultimately is not the smartest thing to do. It will be more convenient for now, but more costly in the future.”  A single C-17 military transport aircraft “is something. It’s not enough,” he added, alluding to Canada’s contribution to the mission so far.  “We need equipment, which we do not have. We need funding for this — it shouldn’t be seen as a regional problem, it’s an international problem. We need training in dealing with this kind of threat,” he said ….”
  • More Mali (3)  Analyst on the political play  “…. discussions of Canada’s role in the Mali mission have taken a confusing twist in Ottawa.  Having sent one transport plane to support French troops in Mali, Prime Minister Stephen Harper now says he is seeking “broad national consensus” on what Canada’s next steps should be. In particular, he is reaching out to the New Democratic Party, hoping it will support the effort. This is both instructive and confusing.  It is instructive in that, as the NDP seeks to maintain its position as the Official Opposition, rather than the third or fourth party it was not that long ago, it has incentives to support NATO efforts.  I noticed in my work on the NATO effort in Afghanistan that very new or very old (formerly Communist) left-wing parties feel a certain amount of pressure to support NATO operations so that they do not appear too fringe or pacifist.  It is far easier for more-established parties to oppose a country’s efforts in NATO.  It is confusing because Harper, with his majority government, does not need any votes from the NDP.  Canadian law does not require parliamentary votes for foreign deployments, regardless of the parliamentary votes over the Afghanistan mission.  So, why is Harper seeking the NDP’s support for Canadian efforts in Mali? I recently spent some time on Twitter with Phil Lagassé and Ted Campbell pondering what might be up. The possible explanations are many ….”
  • Algeria  Someone’s digging into reports of Canadian involvement  “Canadian officials are on the ground in Algeria probing reports that Canadians were involved in the deadly hostage-taking at a gas plant.  They have joined Algerian officials looking into the assault on the natural gas facility by attackers who reportedly only sought out the westerners working at the plant.  Thirty-seven Algerian and foreign employees were killed when the Algerian military launched their own raid to retake control of the sprawling energy complex.  The Algerian prime minister has fingered at least one of the militants as a Canadian who “co-ordinated the attack.” …. The foreign affairs department confirmed that Canadians investigators are now on scene in Algeria to further examine claims of Canadian involvement.  “Canadian officials are on the ground in Algeria working with Algerian officials to get the necessary information,” said Rick Roth, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.  A spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would not comment on reports that the Canadian investigators in Algeria are from the Mounties.”
  • A reminder that Canada’s no stranger to al-Qaeda  “…. Since 2008, when Canada’s anti-terrorism legislation recorded its first conviction, there has been a steady increase in the number of terrorism-related arrests and prosecutions.  Over two dozen Canadians have been arrested or indicted on terrorism-related crimes in Canada and abroad, the vast majority inspired by al-Qaeda.  Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), said last year that it was monitoring 250 people suspected of being involved in terrorism, up from 200 in 2010, and it was spending just under half of its $514m (£326m) annual budget on counter-terrorism.  A “massive, massive effort” for a country with a population of 34 million people, according to CSIS Director Richard Fadden ….” 
  • Along the same lines ….  “…. “We know from past history that there have been several occasions where Canadian extremists have gone overseas to participate in armed conflicts and in many cases they end up dead,” said Stewart Bell, who is a senior reporter at the National Post and the author of two books about homegrown terrorism.  In 2008, Ottawa-born Momin Khawaja was convicted under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws for his role in plotting a London bombing with an Islamist extremist group. In 2006, a group of men called the Toronto 18 were arrested and charged for plotting to bomb Canadian targets in retaliation for the country’s involvement in Afghanistan. And just last week, Canadian businessman Tahawwur Rana was sentenced to 14 years in prison for providing support to overseas terrorism in Pakistan.  Just last April Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told a Senate committee at least 45 Canadians have travelled or attempted to travel from Canada to Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen to join al-Qaeda affliates.  Fadden also pointed to a “disturbing” number of Canadians or permanent residents involved in terrorist activities overseas back in 2010, naming regions like the Middle East, parts of Africa and South Asia.  The transformation from a Regular Joe to a radical is rooted in ideology, not location, according to Dr. Wagdy Loza, a psychiatry professor at Queen’s University and the retired chief psychologist of Kingston Penitentiary.  “It is not related to location but rather the leader who is convinced and the others who are willing to be convinced,” he said ….”
  • Libya  “Canadians are being urged to immediately leave areas of Libya, including the eastern city of Benghazi, in response to a heightened risk of terrorism targeting expatriates and foreign travellers.  The federal government issued a travel advisory Thursday evening warning its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid and regions of Sabha and Kufra citing what it called an “unpredictable security situation.” ….”
  • Fighting pirates  “On 27 November 2012, a merchant ship crossing the Indian Ocean took self-protective measures in reaction to two skiffs that were shadowing it. When the master reported the incident to the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) in Northwood, England, the anti-piracy team based there quickly took action “On the basis of further information from the ship, the NSC assessment — produced in conjunction with colleagues at NATO, Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa and the U.K. Maritime Trade Operations office in Dubai — was that this was a Pirate Attack Group,” said Lieutenant-Commander Nicholas Smith of Task Force Northwood, the Canadian Forces team deployed at the NSC.  After determining that the skiffs were part of a Pirate Attack Group, the NSC proceeded to identify and warn all other vessels in the area of the danger. NATO and European Union warships also went to the area to look for the pirate vessels ….”
  • Way Up North  “Canadian Rangers from seven First Nation communities made a big impression on an army colonel during a four-day visit to northern Ontario.  “It has been a wonderful and very useful experience,” said Colonel Jennie Carignan, chief of staff for Land Force Central Area, the military name for the army in Ontario. “I was absolutely astonished at the way the Rangers have adapted to living extremely well in their environment.  “They are very knowledgeable about their own areas and their role is absolutely critical to the safety of their communities.”  Carignan encountered severe weather conditions during her visit, with temperatures dropping to –40C and windchills reaching as low as –58C. Despite that she shot outdoors with Rangers at Lac Seul, and went snowmobiling with Rangers on the shore of Hudson Bay at both Fort Severn and Peawanuck. She also saw Rangers from Attawapiskat, Kashechewan, Fort Albany and Moose Factory teaching winter survival techniques to soldiers from Toronto at a temporary training site near Moosonee ….”
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, attended a roundtable meeting (yesterday) with members of Branch 001 of the Royal Canadian Legion (in Regina). The event was part of his continued efforts to consult with Veterans and their families to ensure the Government is meeting their needs ….”
  • While the American military is finally allowing women to work in combat roles, some U.S. media look at how Canada did it here and here.
  • Columnist rips into convicted spy Jeff Delisle

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