Implications for U.S. security in the arrests of 17 bomb plot suspects in Canada two weeks ago are enormous.
First, it exposes the Canadian-U.S. border as being as vulnerable - if not more so - to infiltration by terrorists as the Mexican-U.S. border. Although the 4,000-mile northern border is twice as long as the southern border, fewer than 1,000 Border Patrol agents are guarding the former - not nearly as many as are now guarding the latter.
Second, national security experts in both nations say that terrorist cells in the United States and Canada are being entirely homegrown, with an ideological attachment to al-Qaida or other radical Muslim sects, but with no formal ties.
"This is a very real concern for us," says one top U.S. law-enforcement official. The cells are decentralized and prone to act on their own, which makes them especially hard to detect and apprehend.
The 12 men and five juveniles arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were raised in middle-class Canadian homes, and would seemingly have no reason to hate their country except for the anti-Western propaganda pumped out by Osama bin Laden and like-minded Islamic jihadists.
Investigators say the Canadian group arranged for delivery of three tons of ammonium nitrate, presumably to be used to attack Toronto and kill as many people as possible. The plan was similar to the bomb attacks on Madrid's railway system two years ago and London's transit system last year.
Ominously, the group also had ties to two young terrorist suspects arrested last March in Atlanta - 21-year-old Syed Haris Ahmen, a Georgia Tech engineering student, and 19-year-old Ehsanul Islam Sadequee. According to U.S. court documents, the duo met with their Canadian counterparts to discuss potential targets in both countries.
What all this means, say national security experts, is an increase in surveillance of Muslim mosques where many discussions and planning for terrorist attacks apparently take place. And no matter how much the politically correct crowd denounces the unfairness, and possible unconstitutionality, of racial profiling, there's going to be a lot more of that too.
With hundreds, possibly thousands. of lives at stake, law enforcement simply cannot afford not to pay close attention to what's going on in Muslim communities - not because all Muslims are terrorists, but because terrorist Muslims, although a minority, mix with decent, moderate Muslims as a cover for their murderous activities.
Hopefully, instead of complaining about the surveillance, moderates will work with authorities to bring the terrorists to justice.
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