Canada plays down talk of an al-Qaeda attack
OTTAWA, May 10 (Reuters) Canada's spy service, reacting to the release of a report by the agency's head that said an al-Qaeda attack on Canada was probable, stressed today there were no imminent threats to the country.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director Jim Judd made his remarks in a report last November to then Public Security Minister Anne McLellan.
''The director's comments were drawn from an annual report he submits to the minister ... and were not referring to a specific, imminent threat,'' said CSIS spokeswoman Barbara Campion. ''There are no imminent threats to Canada.'' In his report to McLellan, Judd said that while the threat posed by al-Qaeda to Canada and Canadians was mainly centered abroad ''an attack on Canadian soil is now probable''.
Reuters obtained a declassified copy of the report under access to information legislation.
In recent years Al Qaeda has twice specifically threatened to strike against Canada. In 2004, Judd's predecessor as CSIS chief said ''it is no longer a question of if, but rather of when or where, we will be specifically targeted''.
Although Canada opposed the war on Iraq, it has 2,300 troops stationed in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Campion said the agency's assessment of the threat facing Canada was not new and had ''been shared with the government of Canada and with the public in the past''.
REUTERS PDS PM0053