Canada’s spy review bodies struggling to keep tabs on agencies

The review bodies for both Canada’s intelligence agencies are raising concerns about their ability to keep track of the country’s spies.

OTTAWA—The review bodies for both of Canada’s intelligence agencies are raising concerns about their ability to keep track of the country’s spies.
The warnings come as the Conservatives continue to insist that Canada does not require increased oversight into the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the Communications Security Establishment.
The Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which reviews CSIS actions, said continued vacancies on the five-person board, the inability to investigate CSIS operations with other agencies, and delays in CSIS providing required information are “key risks” to the committee’s mandate.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Communications Security Establishment Commissioner warned that the growth of the massive electronic spying agency, coupled with fiscal restraint at the commissioner’s office, is a “constant concern.”
The two review bodies combined boast about 30 full-time employees and an annual budget of roughly $5 million, according to government documents. The agencies they review are expected to spend more than $1 billion this year, and CSE alone has more than 2,000 employees.
The concerns were raised in both agencies’ plans and priorities reports, which outline the expected actions and spending of government departments and agencies for the year.
They come as Parliament continues to debate Bill C-51, which would give CSIS a much wider mandate to investigate and “disrupt” threats to Canada’s national security.
Many critics who testified about the bill, and a good number of witnesses who support it, have argued there should be some measure of parliamentary oversight into the actions intelligence services take on Canadians’ behalf.
But Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, responding to questions in the House of Commons Wednesday, said Canada’s review system is the “envy of the world.”
“We will continue to support them,” Blaney said of the review bodies.
Blaney has argued that SIRC provides adequate review of CSIS activities, and that additional oversight would simply be “needless red tape.”
In its report, however, the SIRC admitted it can review only a “small number” of the spy agency’s actions each year.
“Currently, SIRC reviews still lack the ability to ‘follow the thread’ of a CSIS investigation if it involves another government department or agency,” the SIRC wrote.
“SIRC’s effectiveness is dependent on (CSIS’s) timely provision of information. In those cases where there are delays in receiving information, SIRC is at risk of being unable to complete its reviews and investigations in a timely manner.”
Both SIRC and the CSE commissioner reported their review capacity depends on co-operation with the agencies they look into — while both are separate and independent from the agencies, both say they require a close working relationship. The CSE commissioner’s report went so far as to say the success of their reviews is “fundamentally reliant on the relationship between the office and CSE.”
Both review bodies also say they need to work together. SIRC’s mandate is to review CSIS operations, but not CSIS’s co-operation with CSE. Without seeing how the different agencies interact — including with the RCMP, which has civilian review, and Military Intelligence, which has no civilian review — the CSE commissioner said it’s difficult to see the whole picture.
“Information sharing among intelligence agencies at the national and international level requires at minimum some co-operation among the various review and oversight bodies,” the report notes.
CSIS’s operations have been well known since the intelligence branch of the RCMP was separated from the law enforcement mandate. The operations of CSE, on the other hand, have attracted widespread attention only through the leaks of whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Working from those disclosures, The Intercept and CBC revealed CSE has developed a suite of cyberwarfare tools, and had a goal to become more aggressive in their use by 2015.
Other documents leaked by Snowden suggest CSE has engaged in mass Internet surveillance of file-sharing sites, and collects massive amounts of Internet traffic through 200 “Internet backbone” sites worldwide through a program called EONBLUE.
Bill Galbraith, the executive director of the CSE commissioner’s office, said he could not discuss whether the office is looking into those disclosures.
“The reviews that we are conducting cover a range of signals intelligence activities, IT security activities, and there is a major review of metadata underway,” Galbraith said in an interview.
Deborah Grey, the former Conservative MP and current acting chair of the SIRC, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
How the review bodies measure up
18 – The number of full-time equivalent positions at the SIRC
11.5 – The number of full-time equivalent position at the CSE commissioner’s office
$5 million – Roughly how much both offices have to spend this year
$537 million – Amount CSIS expects to spend in 2015-2016 alone.
2,175 – Number of employees at CSE

By: Alex Boutilier Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Apr 01 2015

Find this story at 1 April 2015

© Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. 1996-2015

Reports link Islamic State recruiter to Canadian Embassy in Jordan

Canada’s embassy in Jordan, which is run by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s handpicked ambassador and former top bodyguard, is being linked in news reports to an unfolding international terrorism and spy scandal.

The federal government refused to comment Friday on multiple Turkish media reports that a foreign spy allegedly working for Canadian intelligence – and arrested in Turkey for helping three young British girls travel to Syria to join Islamic State militants – was working for the Canadian embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Reports also say the suspect has confessed to working for Canadian intelligence and was doing so in order to obtain Canadian citizenship. The man previously travelled to Canada with the embassy’s approval, said one report.

Canada’s ambassador to Jordan is Bruno Saccomani, the former RCMP officer who was in charge of Harper’s security detail until the prime minister appointed him almost two years ago as the envoy to Amman, with dual responsibility for Iraq.

The suspect in custody is a Syrian intelligence operative named Mohammed Mehmet Rashid – dubbed Doctor Mehmet Rashid – who helped the three London schoolgirls travel to Syria upon their arrival in Turkey, according to Yeni Safak, a conservative and Islamist Turkish newspaper known for its strong support of the government.

Other Turkish news outlets identified the man with slightly different spellings: Mohammed al Rashid or Mohammad Al Rashed.

Police arrested Rashid more than a week ago in a province near Turkey’s border with Syria, multiple news agencies reported.

The initial police report says Rashid confessed he was working for the Canadian intelligence agency and that he has flown to Jordan to share intelligence with other agents working for the Canadian Embassy in Amman, various news outlets reported.

The suspect claimed he worked for the intelligence service in order to get Canadian citizenship for himself, said various news reports. The Turkish intelligence service confiscated his mobile phone and computer, which were provided by the Canadian government, according to reports.

Computer records revealed Rashid entered Turkey 33 times with his Syrian passport since June 2013, and agents discovered passport images of 17 more people, aside from the ones belonging to the three British girls, Yeni Safak reported.

The Citizen has not been able to independently confirm the Turkish news reports.

The Syrian agent reportedly received deposits of between $800 and $1,500 through bank accounts opened in the United Kingdom.

A federal government source in Canada said the individual arrested is not a Canadian citizen and “was not an employee of CSIS,” but nobody in government has said this on the record. Nor has the government categorically ruled out reports that the alleged spy was working for or helping the Canadian government in some capacity.

Turkish news channel A Haber reported the 28-year-old man was a dentist who fled the Syrian conflict into Jordan, and sought asylum in another country before the Canadian embassy took an interest in his asylum case.

He then travelled to Canada by approval of the embassy and stayed there for a while before returning to Jordan, according to news outlets that cited A Haber’s coverage.

The news channel claimed he contacted a Canadian embassy official in Jordan called “Matt,” and quoted Turkish police sources that Matt was likely an employee of a British intelligence service, said a report from Istanbul-based newspaper Daily Sabah, citing the A Haber coverage. The suspect only acted as a smuggler and was paid by the intelligence service.

A Haber has released two different videos of the man arrested, with one video allegedly showing him leading the girls into Syria and another of him in custody being led away by security officials.

The choppy footage in the first video, filmed by the man now in custody, shows the girls’ journey from Turkey into Syria, Turkish media reported.

The three girls arrived at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, then headed to the southern city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border, Daily Sabah reported. The girls then took a cab from Gaziantep to a location where they were greeted by the man.

The suspect starts shooting video when the girls arrive and asks for their names, before telling them to take their baggage and not leave anything behind. He then informs the girls they will be in Syria within one hour, Daily Sabah reported.

The girls and suspect then hop into another vehicle. He then delivers them to Islamic State militants in Syria and returns to Turkey, and is later apprehended by Turkish authorities, according to the newspaper.

In Ottawa, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has refused to comment on the reports, citing operational security. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, RCMP and Prime Minister’s Office have also refused comment.

The official Opposition pursued the Conservatives Friday in question period over the alleged link to Canada’s embassy in Jordan, which they noted is run by Harper’s handpicked ambassador.

NDP deputy leader Megan Leslie asked the government to confirm that someone linked to Canadian intelligence – “either an employee, an agent or an asset, is being detained in Turkey.”

Roxanne James, the parliamentary secretary to Blaney, confirmed the government is aware of the reports but, like the minister, refused to provide any details “on operational matters of national security.”

Defence Minister Jason Kenney, speaking to reporters Friday in Calgary, said he has never heard Rashid’s name before and refused further comment. “We don’t comment on allegations or operations about our intelligence agencies,” Kenney said.

NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar said the government’s refusal to outright deny the reports out of Turkey lends credence to them.

“They haven’t responded,” he said. “And in light of the fact that there’s been more than 24 hours for the government to establish the facts as to what happened, I can only conclude that there is some truth to this story.”

Dewar said if the reports are true, that would be devastating for Canada’s credibility, and, at the very least, reiterate the need to increase oversight over the spy agency’s activities.

“We have been engaged with someone who is not blocking people from travelling to Syria to join up with ISIL, they’re actually facilitating it,” he said.

“So the government has to understand that they’re accountable for the actions of our spy agency and whomever they work with.”

Should the allegations prove true, Dewar said there should be an immediate investigation into what happened, including how CSIS would have recruited such a person to work for it. At the same time, he questioned who would lead such an investigation and where the report would go given the lack of independent monitoring over the spy agency.

“This is why we don’t support Bill C-51,” he said. “There’s no proper oversight right now. It’s a black hole.”

Dewar also noted the reports say Rashid was recruited out of Canada’s embassy in Jordan, which is headed by Saccomani. He said it is ironic given the government defended Saccomani’s lack of diplomatic experience by touting his background in security issues when the prime minister appointed him to the post last year.

Exactly why Turkish officials chose to publicly identify the man’s affiliation as being with Canada, and possibly CSIS, remains unclear.

Relations between Turkey and Canada were rocky after the Conservative government formally recognized the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks during the First World War as a genocide, but they have become more cordial in recent years.

In particular, Canada has remained largely silent while other Western countries are criticizing Turkey for not doing more to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, many of whom have joined Islamic State (ISIL).

It has also refrained from speaking out too loudly on what some have seen as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian bent and attempt to turn Turkey away from secularism.

Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, are the three British girls believed to have joined the Islamic State, after they left their London homes in early February, travelled to Turkey and crossed the border into Syria.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said the suspect arrested worked for the intelligence agency of a country that is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State.

He didn’t identify the country, but multiple media outlets, citing security officials, first reported Thursday the individual was working for Canadian security intelligence.

CSIS may well be operating in the region.

If Rashid worked in some capacity for CSIS, and based on reports his computer contained images of passport and travel documents of several apparent ISIL recruits, it’s conceivable he was actually gathering intelligence for CSIS about those recruits and the methods, logistics and contacts for spiriting them into Syria, said Ray Boisvert, former assistant director of intelligence for CSIS.

“If he was a CSIS asset, he’s likely an observer whose only job is to report what he saw,” Boisvert said.

If his computer did, in fact, contain information about many other ISIL recruits in Syria, “that’s a hell of intelligence operation, well done.”

Boisvert said relations between Turkey and Western coalition countries have become acrimonious, especially with the British. It has “become a very high, politically-charged discussion about who’s to blame,” for the ISIL recruit pipeline through Turkey into Syria.

If Rashid was working for CSIS in some fashion, the spy agency’s current mandate would prevent him or the organization from doing anything to have stopped the three British girls from reaching Syria. Under current Canadian law, CSIS and its assets are only allowed to gather intelligence.

Ironically, the government’s contentious security legislation, Bill C-51, would empower CSIS to disrupt such activities that threatened the security of Canada.

The reports come as the government pushes to enact two pieces of divisive security legislation giving CSIS extraordinary powers at home and abroad. But critics argue that without additional oversight and review, Canada’s security agencies could run amok with the new powers.

Under Bill C-51, the CSIS mandate would dramatically expand from its current intelligence collection-only role to actively reducing and disrupting threats to national security, whether in Canada or abroad. If those disruption activities are illegal or unconstitutional in Canada, the legislation authorizes Federal Court judges to grant CSIS warrants to break the law.

The bill also gives explicit direction to CSIS and Canadian courts to ignore the statutes of sovereign states in pursuing such operations. That development was highlighted in an online New York Times op-ed article this week by Canadian legal scholars Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.

Another piece of government security legislation before the Senate, Bill C-44, which amends the CSIS Act, also would allow Federal Court judges to “without regard to any other law, including that of any foreign state … authorize activities outside of Canada to enable the service to investigate a threat to the security of Canada.”

Those activities would be limited to traditional intelligence gathering, which is done, usually covertly, by intelligence services the world over.

JASON FEKETE, OTTAWA CITIZEN
LEE BERTHIAUME, OTTAWA CITIZEN
IAN MACLEOD, OTTAWA CITIZEN
Last Updated: March 13, 2015 7:32 PM EDT

Find this story at 13 March 2015

© 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.

Turkish reports claim smuggler for Islamic State worked for Canada

ANKARA, TURKEY — A Syrian former army lieutenant who defected from the military three years ago has become the central figure in a tale of intrigue that ended last month in the flight to the Islamic State of three British schoolgirls.

Everyone agrees that Muhammad el Rashed arranged to smuggle the girls to Syria after they’d arrived in Turkey, some of the hundreds of Britons thought to have joined the Islamic State in recent years.

What’s less clear is how Rashed came to be in a position to help smuggle them. The Turkish government charges that he was a paid agent of Canadian intelligence, and officials imply that’s proof that Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, is helping to finance the Islamic State.

For its part, the Canadian government hasn’t commented on Rashed’s statement to police that he was working as an intelligence operative. A representative of Canadian Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney declined to comment about the reports when asked about them last week in the House of Commons.

The Canadian government also hasn’t commented on Turkish claims that payments wired to Rashed were immediately transferred to Islamic State operatives in Syria. The amount he allegedly received remains unknown.

Turkey has been under pressure from its European neighbors to stop the flow of recruits to the Islamic State, most of whom pass through the country. In the best-known recent case, Hayat Boumeddiene, the common-law wife of an Islamic State sympathizer who killed four Jews in a grocery in Paris during the Charlie Hebdo violence in January, slipped across a border crossing about 300 yards from the office of the district governor, even though Turkish authorities had spotted her as suspicious on her arrival in the country.

Turkey has said there’s little it can do to stop people who arrive in the country legally, and it’s blamed European nations for not notifying it fast enough when possible recruits leave their home countries. The Turkish allegations raise the question of whether officials are highlighting Rashed’s alleged Canada connection to deflect attention from claims that Turkey has been at best lukewarm in its opposition to the presence of radical Islamists in Syria.

The story began last month in Great Britain, when the three girls, Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, disappeared from Bethnal Green Academy in London. Their families alerted British authorities and told them they thought the three had caught a flight from London to Istanbul on Feb. 17. Closed-circuit video later released by Scotland Yard showed the girls at London’s Gatwick Airport.

Turkish surveillance video caught the girls waiting for 18 hours on Feb. 18 at a bus station in Istanbul. A subsequent video made public last week by the Turkish TV channel A Haber showed Rashed interacting with the girls in Gaziantep, a city in southern Turkey. The video, apparently taken via a hidden camera by Rashed himself, shows him urging the girls to hurry. “You will be there in one hour,” he says at one point, apparently referring to Syria.

Since Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu revealed last week that a man had been arrested in the smuggling of the girls to Syria, Turkish newspapers have published what they said were transcripts of Rashed’s confession to Turkish authorities.

According to those purported transcripts, Rashed said he’d helped 35 Europeans cross from Turkey to Syria, that his Islamic State contact was a British jihadi who went by the nom de guerre of Abu Kaka and that he’d laundered the payments he received from Canada through a jewelry store owned by a relative in the southern Turkish city of Sanliurfa, which then passed them to the Islamic State via Rashed’s brother, who lives in Raqqa, Syria.

According to the news accounts, Rashed told Turkish interrogators that Abu Kaka would contact him via the Internet chat service WhatsApp with the names of people who wanted to join the Islamic State. Rashed would then arrange their delivery to the border.

In the case of the three British teenagers, Rashed reportedly said he’d met the girls at a bus station in Istanbul, bought them bus tickets and accompanied them to Gaziantep, where he’d delivered them to a man he identified as Ilahmai Bali, who used the nom de guerre Abu Bakr.

Bali was responsible for arranging private transportation for people wanting to enter Syria, Rashed was quoted as saying.

During his interrogation, according to the purported transcripts, Rashed said he’d been working for Canadian intelligence since 2013.

According to the Turkish accounts, Rashed joined the Syrian military in 2010, before the war there broke out, and defected two years later in Homs, which by then had become the focus of fighting between rebels and the government of President Bashar Assad.

“While seeking asylum, I got in contact with Canada in 2013,” Rashed allegedly told his interrogators in Sanliurfa, adding, “They told me they would give me citizenship if I would gather information about the Islamic State and share it with them.”

The Canadians, he said, provided him with a laptop and a cellphone. He said the Canadian Embassy in Amman, Jordan, had paid for plane tickets for him to travel to Amman. Turkish authorities said migration records showed that Rashed had used his Syrian passport to enter and exit Turkey 33 times since 2013, primarily through Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

Over the next years, he said, he worked as a dentist in Raqqa – a city the Islamic State captured in March 2013 –and sent the Canadian Embassy in Amman details of who was being treated at the hospital. He identified his Canadian contact as Matt, whom he described as about 35 years old, 5 feet 11 inches tall and about 200 pounds.

When he moved from Raqqa to Turkey to take up smuggling people isn’t stated in the published transcripts. According to the accounts, Rashed said most of the people he’d helped reach the Islamic State bought their own bus tickets. Most were from English-speaking countries, primarily Britain, but also South Africa, Indonesia, Australia and Nigeria.

Turkish police surmised from records on his laptop that he may have played a role in the smuggling of 150 people to Syria. Among the photos they found, according to reports, were those of the three missing schoolgirls.

Guvenc is a McClatchy special correspondent.
BY DUYGU GUVENC
McClatchy Foreign StaffMarch 17, 2015

Find this story at 17 March 2015

Copyright McClatchydc.com

Canadian spy aided eight more British nationals join ISIS along with three girls

Canadian spy aided eight more British nationals join ISIS along with three girls

The Syrian national suspected of being a spy working for the Canadian intelligence agency, identified as Mohammed al-Rashed, who helped the three British girls cross into Syria through the Turkish border to join the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) also aided another eight Britons join the group, Turkish media reported on Friday.

According to Doğan News Agency’s report, the suspect greeted 12 British people, including three teenage girls, at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul and bought them bus tickets to Gaziantep, a Turkish province bordering Syria while allegedly handing the recruits to an ISIS commander.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu announced that the suspect has been caught in connection with smuggling the three British girls who left their London homes in early February, into Syria.

He went on to say that the person was working for the intelligence service of a country “that is a member of the international coalition” against ISIS, referring to U.S.-led forces carrying out air strikes against the armed group. He refrained from naming the country, other than stating that it is “not the United States, nor a European Union country.” The coalition also includes several Arab countries as well as Australia and Canada.

Security sources told Daily Sabah on Thursday that the person detained was a member of Canada’s intelligence agency.

A Haber, an Istanbul-based news network, released footage showing the man, identified as Mohammed al-Rashed, speaking to the girls in a Turkish town near the border before the trio board a vehicle to cross into Syria. The footage, captured by a hidden camera by Rashed, recorded in Gaziantep, shows Rashed welcoming the girls as they exit a taxicab. He tells them they will be in Syria “within an hour,” as they carry their bags to another vehicle and adds that he will not go with them.

He was detained on February 28 in Şanlıurfa, another Turkish province on the border. Turkish newspaper Star reported that Rashed was arrested on March 4 by a court and confessed to smuggling the girls into Syria.

Star newspaper released excerpts from the purported interrogation of Rashed by Turkish security services. He told police he was working for Canadian intelligence and contacted Canadian intelligence agents occasionally in a Canadian consulate in Jordan. He said he informed Canadian intelligence officers about smuggling the girls on February 21. Rashed claimed he was looking to be granted Canadian citizenship by helping the intelligence service.

Star also reported Rashed entered and departed Turkey 33 times starting in 2013 through Istanbul and border crossings between Turkey and Syria. The article said photos of passports of 20 people, including the three British girls, were found on the hard drive of the computer in his possession, along with hidden camera footage showing potential ISIS recruits traveling to Syria.

A spokesperson for Canada’s Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness responded to the inquiry and said Canada was “aware” of the reports but “will not comment on operational matters of national security.” The Canadian Embassy in Turkey had declined to comment on the matter on Thursday.

DAILY SABAH
March 14, 2015

Find this story at 14 March 2015

Copyright © 2015 Tüm hakları saklıdır

Turkey holds foreign spy for helping British girls travel to Syria to join Islamic State

Ankara: Turkey says it has detained an intelligence agent working for one of the states in the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State for helping three British teenage girls cross into Syria to join the jihadists.

The surprise revelation by Foreign Affairs Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday appeared aimed at deflecting sustained criticism from Western countries that Turkey is failing to halt the flow of jihadists across its borders.

“Do you know who helped those girls? He was captured. He was someone working for the intelligence [service] of a country in the coalition,” Mr Cavusoglu told the A-Haber channel in an interview published by the official Anatolia news agency.

A Turkish government official said the agent was arrested by Turkey’s security forces 10 days ago, and added that the person was not a Turkish citizen.

“We informed all the countries concerned,” the official said. “It’s not an EU member, it’s also not the United States. He is working for the intelligence of a country within the coalition,” Mr Cavusoglu added, without further specifying the nationality of the detained agent.

The coalition also includes countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Australia and Canada.

A European security source familiar with the case of the three girls said the person in question had a connection with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency.

A Canadian government source in Ottawa said the person was not a Canadian citizen and was not employed by CSIS. The source did not respond when asked whether the person had been working for CSIS.

The spy agency did not respond to requests for comment.

Close friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, crossed into Syria after boarding a flight from London to Istanbul on February 17. They took a bus from Istanbul to the south-eastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa close to the Syrian border, from where they are believed to have crossed the frontier.

AFP, Reuters
March 13, 2015

Find this story at 13 March 2015

Copyright © 2015 Fairfax Media

Canadian spy said to be detained in Turkey for helping British teens join ISIS

MONTREAL – Turkish authorities say they have detained a spy for helping three British girls join Islamic State, and reports say the detainee worked for Canada’s spy agency.

Turkey hasn’t officially identified the spy’s home country.

However, foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the spy is from the military coalition against Islamic State and is not from Europe or the United States.

Several Turkish media, citing government sources, have said the detained spy was working for Canadian intelligence.

Tahera Mufti, spokeswoman for CSIS, did not respond to a written request for comment.

The office of Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, the federal minister responsible for CSIS, issued a brief statement.

“We are aware of these reports,” said Blaney’s office. “We do not comment on operational matters of national security.”

A source in the Canadian government told QMI Agency that the individual held in Turkey was not a Canadian citizen.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also claimed the individual was not “an employee of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.”

The source wouldn’t say if the detainee was a freelance or contracted intelligence agent.

The Turkish Prime Ministry’s Office of Public Diplomacy also released a statement on the matter, saying the capture of the intelligence officer “showcased a complex problem involving intelligence wars.”

“This incident should be a message to those always blaming Turkey on the debate on the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and shows it is a problem more complicated than a mere border security issue,” said the office. “Turkey will continue its call for stronger intelligence sharing, and is worried about the lack of intelligence sharing in a matter involving the lives of three young girls.”

Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, crossed into Syria to join militants after leaving Britain last month.

The Canadian government is currently proposing a law that would formally authorize CSIS to conduct foreign operations “without regard to any other law, including that of any foreign state.”

Blaney told senators just this week that the proposed law would be aimed at tackling the threat posed by Canadians who become foreign fighters in unstable countries.

CSIS has already engaged in several foreign operations, including in Afghanistan, and once even had a secret station somewhere inside Turkey. It is unclear if that station is still open.

Ray Boisvert, a former CSIS deputy director of operations, told QMI on Thursday that people have claimed they work for an intelligence service but that doesn’t mean it’s always true.

“There could be a political agenda or somebody who is overstating their connectivity to the service,” he added. “Turkey is a very complicated environment. I’m a little suspicious.”

ANDREW MCINTOSH, QMI AGENCY
Mar 12, 2015, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET

Find this story at 12 March 2015

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Syrian agent ‘worked as courier to deliver money to IS’

Ankara (AFP) – An agent who helped three British schoolgirls cross into Syria to join the Islamic State group was also working as a courier to transfer money to jihadists, a Turkish newspaper reported on Sunday.

Media reports in Turkey have said he was working for Canadian intelligence — a claim rejected by Ottawa.

The Milliyet newspaper reported that the man, a dentist using the name “Doctor Mehmed Resid”, told Turkish police during questioning that he received the money sent from abroad before it was delivered to IS militants.

The agent said he withdrew the cash from a branch of Western Union and delivered it to Syrian jewellers working in the southeastern Turkish city of Sanliurfa close to the Syrian border, Milliyet reported.

The jewellers then contacted their colleagues in Syria and a middleman would come to their shops.

The agent told investigators that his brother, who lives in the Syrian city of Raqa, an Islamic State stronghold, received the money from the jewellers and delivered it to IS militants, according to Milliyet.

The report did not reveal who sent the money in the first place, only that it came from abroad.

Video footage emerged Friday purportedly showing the same man helping the British girls into a car in Sanliurfa on their way to Syria.

Close friends Kadiza Sultana, 16, and 15-year-olds Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, crossed into Syria after boarding a flight from London to Istanbul on February 17.

They took a bus from Istanbul to Sanliurfa, from where they are believed to have crossed the frontier.

AFP
March 15, 2015 6:22 AM

Find this story at 15 March 2015

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Tories secretly gave Canadian military OK to share info despite torture risk

Harper facing criticism from human rights groups

The four-page, 2010 framework document, sent to then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay, says when there is a “substantial risk” that sending information to – or soliciting information from – a foreign agency would result in torture, the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head.
The four-page, 2010 framework document, sent to then-Defence Minister Peter MacKay, says when there is a “substantial risk” that sending information to – or soliciting information from – a foreign agency would result in torture, the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head. Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press

The Conservative government has secretly ordered the Canadian military to share information with allies even when there’s a serious risk it could lead to torture.

The Defence Department was making good progress on developing a directive from the minister to put the policy into effect, a newly declassified memo shows.

The memo reveals Defence was slated to be the fifth and final federal agency to apply the Harper government’s instruction to exchange information with a foreign agency when doing so may give rise to a “substantial risk” of torture.

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The others are the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency and Communications Security Establishment Canada, the electronic eavesdropping agency known as CSE.

The Canadian Press obtained a copy of the November 2011 memo under the Access to Information Act.

National Defence cannot release a copy of the resulting directive on information sharing — nor say when it was completed and issued — because it’s a classified document, said department spokeswoman Tina Crouse.

“We don’t have any comment right now,” she said.

Effectively condones torture
The federal policy has drawn sharp criticism from human rights advocates and opposition MPs, who say it effectively condones torture, contrary to international law and Canada’s United Nations commitments.

The war in Afghanistan is a stark illustration of the fact Canadian military forces can and do develop close relationships with foreign security forces that are unquestionably responsible for torture, said Alex Neve, secretary general for Amnesty Canada.

”Analyze the situation. If you think that sharing this information is likely to contribute to torture abroad, don’t do it.’- Justice Dennis O’Connor
A policy that leaves the door open for the possibility of collaboration even if torture may result “is particularly troubling,” Neve said in an interview.

The memo says the Defence directive was to flow from a federal framework that “establishes a consistent process of decision making” across departments and agencies when the exchange of national-security related information puts someone at serious risk of being tortured.

The four-page, 2010 framework document, previously released under the access law, says when there is a “substantial risk” that sending information to — or soliciting information from — a foreign agency would result in torture, the matter should be referred to the responsible deputy minister or agency head.

Certain factors considered
In deciding what to do, the agency head will consider various factors, including the threat to Canada’s national security and the nature and imminence of the threat; the status of Canada’s relationship with — and the human rights record of — the foreign agency; and the rationale for believing that sharing the information would lead to torture.

arar_maher040122
Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York in September 2002 and deported soon after by U.S. authorities. A federal commission of inquiry concluded that faulty information the RCMP passed to the Americans likely led to the Ottawa engineer’s traumatic detention. ((CBC))

The framework says it applies primarily to sharing with foreign government agencies and militaries, but also with military coalitions, alliances and international organizations.

In 2011, then-public safety minister Vic Toews issued directives to CSIS, the RCMP and the federal border agency that closely followed the wording of the government-wide framework.

That same year, MacKay issued a similar directive to CSE, which reports to the defence minister.The newly released memo, prepared for Peter MacKay — defence minister at the time — says the directive for his department was being “tailored to recognize the unique operational needs of a military organization.”

Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained in New York in September 2002 and deported soon after by U.S. authorities — ending up in a vile Damascus prison cell. Under torture, he gave false confessions to Syrian military intelligence officers about involvement with al-Qaeda.

IN DEPTH: Maher Arar
A federal commission of inquiry, led by Justice Dennis O’Connor, concluded that faulty information the RCMP passed to the Americans very likely led to the Ottawa telecommunications engineer’s traumatic detention.

O’Connor recommended that information never be provided to a foreign country where there is a credible risk it will cause or contribute to the use of torture.

Critics say the recent federal directives on information sharing are squarely at odds with that recommendation.

It would have been easy to write a policy that conforms with it, Neve said.

“Analyze the situation. If you think that sharing this information is likely to contribute to torture abroad, don’t do it.”

The Canadian Press
Posted:Apr 13, 2014 1:29 PM ET
Last Updated:Apr 13, 2014 1:29 PM ET

Find this story at 13 April 2014

© The Canadian Press, 2014

RCMP files on Tommy Douglas remain secret: SCOC

OTTAWA – Secret RCMP files on Tommy Douglas will remain secret, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday.

The Court dismissed a request by Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill to force Library and Archives Canada to release a large part of the file on the former Saskatchewan premier and founding leader of the federal NDP.

By Brigitte Pellerin, Parliamentary Bureau

Find this story at 28 March 2013

Copyright © 2013, Canoe Inc.

Supreme Court won’t hear appeal in Tommy Douglas case: Canadian Press reporter fought to have 1,149-page RCMP file on Douglas made public

The Supreme Court said it won’t hear an appeal by a Canadian Press reporter who wants a 1,149-page RCMP file on Tommy Douglas made public.

The Supreme Court of Canada has ended an effort by The Canadian Press to lift the shroud of secrecy over an intelligence dossier compiled on socialist trailblazer Tommy Douglas.

The high court has denied reporter Jim Bronskill leave to appeal in his case to have information in the Douglas file made public.

The Canadian Press Posted: Mar 28, 2013 1:33 PM CST Last Updated: Mar 28, 2013 10:32 AM CST

Find this story at 28 March 2013

© The Canadian Press, 2013

Fight over secret Tommy Douglas file goes to top court ‘It is about the balance between history and security’

The Supreme Court of Canada is being asked to settle a seven-year battle to lift the shroud of secrecy over a decades-old intelligence dossier on former NDP leader Tommy Douglas.

The Supreme Court of Canada is being asked to settle a seven-year battle to lift the shroud of secrecy over a decades-old intelligence dossier on socialist trailblazer Tommy Douglas.

Jim Bronskill, a reporter with The Canadian Press, is seeking leave to appeal the case to the country’s highest court.

According to Bronskill’s lawyer says it’s not just about gaining access to the file.

In essence, the top court is being asked to be the final arbiter on whether national security should trump the public’s right to see historical documents.

“It is about the balance between history and security and when national security information can and should be withheld,” Paul Champ said in an interview.

“Our simple position is that information that’s gathered for intelligence or national security should not be hidden away from Canadians for all time. At some point, that information can and should become available to historians and journalists and the Canadian public so that we can better understand our history.”

In 2005, Bronskill applied under the Access to Information Act to see the intelligence file compiled by the now-defunct RCMP Security Service on Douglas, a former Saskatchewan premier, father of medicare and first federal NDP leader.

Library and Archives Canada, which is now in possession of the file, eventually released just over 400, heavily redacted pages from the 1,142-page file. Bronskill launched a court challenge after the federal information commissioner agreed with the government that most of the file should remain under wraps.
More than 300 pages released last year

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which replaced the Mounties’ security service and advised Library and Archives on release of the Douglas file, has argued strenuously against full disclosure.

Although some information in the file dates back almost 80 years, the agency maintains uncensored release of the dossier would reveal secrets of the spy trade, which could jeopardize the lives of confidential informants and compromise the agency’s ability to conduct secret surveillance.

Last year, just days before the case was heard in Federal Court, the government released more than 300 additional pages from the file.
‘Hundreds of documents about Tommy Douglas – some over 70 years old – will be permanently withheld from the Canadian public.’
—Lawyer Paul Champ

Nevertheless, Justice Simon Noel subsequently ruled that Library and Archives failed to take into account its mandate to preserve historically significant documents and make them accessible to Canadians when responding to Bronskill’s access request.

Having painstakingly reviewed all the pages in the file, Noel attached an annex to his judgment, listing the page numbers which contained information he believed should be further disclosed.

The government appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal which, after hearing three hours of legal arguments last October, issued a brief oral ruling overturning Noel’s decision.

While the panel of three justices agreed that the historical value of documents should be a factor in considering access requests, it also struck down Noel’s annex.
Canadian history ‘seriously damaged’

In an application seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, Champ argues that the Federal Court of Appeal ruling means “hundreds of documents about Tommy Douglas – some over 70 years old – will be permanently withheld from the Canadian public.”

Moreover, he says it means access legislation “will continue to be interpreted in a manner that generally restricts disclosure of historically significant documents. The study of Canadian history, and its salutary influence on the practice of democracy, is seriously damaged by this result.”

Champ also argues the appeal court should not have so “lightly overturned” Noel’s ruling, given the amount of time he’d spent personally reviewing the Douglas file.

The government has 30 days in which to respond to Champ’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Canadian Press Posted: Dec 9, 2012 1:36 PM ET Last Updated: Dec 9, 2012 1:34 PM ET Read 360

(Chris Schwarz/The Canadian Press)

Find this story at 9 December 2012

Copyright © CBC 2013

RCMP spied on Tommy Douglas, files reveal

RCMP spies shadowed Prairie politician Tommy Douglas for more than three decades, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Press.

A newly declassified file on Douglas shows the Mounties attended his speeches, dissected his published articles and, during one Parliament Hill demonstration, eavesdropped on a private conversation.
The RCMP’s file on Tommy Douglas, shown after re-election in November, 1965, contains articles noting Douglas’s concern about rumours of RCMP surveillance of Canadians.
(Canadian Press)

Douglas, a trailblazing socialist committed to social reform, drew the interest of RCMP security officers through his longstanding links with left-wing causes, the burgeoning peace movement and assorted Communist party members.

In the late 1970s, as the veteran politician neared retirement, the Mounties recommended keeping his file open based on the notion “there is much we do not know about Douglas.”

The 1,142-page dossier, spanning nine volumes, was obtained by the Canadian Press from Library and Archives Canada under the Access to Information Act.

Personal files compiled by the RCMP’s security and intelligence branch can be released through the access law 20 years after a subject’s death. Douglas died of cancer at age 81 in February 1986.

Widely hailed as the father of medicare for championing universal health services, the influential Saskatchewan politician was voted the greatest Canadian of all time in a popular CBC contest two years ago.

Daughter Shirley married fellow actor Donald Sutherland. Their son, Kiefer Sutherland, stars in the hit television series 24.

A Baptist minister, Douglas entered politics upon seeing the toll the Great Depression took on families.
Attracted attention in 1939

It appears he first attracted the RCMP’s attention in February 1939 when, as a Co-operative Commonwealth Federation MP, Douglas urged a group of labourers in downtown Ottawa to push for legislation beneficial to the unemployed.

An RCMP constable quietly attended the session, filing a secret two-page account to superiors.

A few years later, Douglas became leader of Saskatchewan’s Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, soon heading up the first socialist government in North America.

As premier, he ushered in public auto insurance, guaranteed hospital care and a provincial bill of rights.
‘Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom.’
— Tommy Douglas

The RCMP file reflects Douglas’s interest in anti-war causes, including opposition to nuclear weapons and criticism of UN policy on Korea.

There are also occasional references to allegations that the CCF harboured members with Communist ties.

Douglas was chosen leader of the federal New Democratic Party in 1961 and served for 10 years. The rise to national prominence only fuelled interest in his political associations.

In late 1964, the RCMP received a letter alleging that Douglas had once been an active member of the Communist party at the University of Chicago, where he had done postgraduate studies.

A top secret memo from a senior RCMP security officer to the force’s deputy commissioner of operations indicates there was no reliable information to substantiate the tip.

“We have never asked the FBI for information on the matter because of Douglas’ position as leader of a national political party.”

During a March 1965 rally on Parliament Hill, an RCMP constable “observed a meeting” between Douglas and missionary peace activist James Endicott.

A report notes that Endicott, after congratulating Douglas on his speech, mentioned he had recently been to Saigon, where war would soon boil over.

Douglas asked: “How are things down there?”

Endicott replied: “Terrible, just terrible.”

The secret report records their plans to have lunch the next week, duly noting later that no “information could be obtained” as to whether the meal took place.
Comments about Pearson

In May 1965, a confidential source provided information for an account of Douglas’s appearance at a Communist party meeting in Burnaby, B.C.

The NDP leader took aim at Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson for not opposing U.S. actions in southeast Asia.

“Douglas states that Australia has already ‘been taken in’ and is sending troops to Vietnam,” the memo reads. “He stated that he [Douglas] will fight with every drop of blood in his body against the Vietnam affair.”

The file contains articles noting Douglas’s concern about rumours of RCMP surveillance of Canadians, though there is no indication the politician suspected he was being watched.

“Setting people to spy on one another is not the way to protect freedom,” he wrote while NDP leader.

RCMP security and intelligence officers amassed files on 800,000 Canadians and actively monitored thousands of organizations, from church and women’s groups to media outlets and universities.
More than 650 secret dossiers in ‘VIP program’

Markings indicate Douglas’s file is one of more than 650 secret dossiers the RCMP kept on Canadian politicians and bureaucrats as part of a project known as the “VIP program.”

While many of these files were destroyed, some with historical significance have been retained by the Library and Archives.

Last Updated: Monday, December 18, 2006 | 9:39 AM ET The Canadian Press

Find this story at 18 December 2006

© The Canadian Press, 2006