Interdict: Restricting the Movement of Threats

AuthorCraig Forcese; Kent Roach
Interdict: Restricting the Movement
of Threats
Algerian A hmed Ressam came to Canada in  on a crude false passport.
Border ocials detected the forgery, and Ressam applied for refugee st atus.
He was released pending adjudication of his refugee claim and took up resi-
dence in Montreal, living on welfare payments and pett y crime. In May ,
the Immigration and Refu gee Board of Canada denied Ressam’s refugee claim
after he had failed to appear for a critical hearing. In June , he was con-
victed of shoplifting and ordered to leave Canada. He did not comply, and
he was again arrested for theft — in this case pickpocketing — in October
 and eventually convicted. Again, he remained in Canada. He was not
deported reportedly because of the prospect of his ma ltreatment in his native
Algeria. But he was watched by CSIS.
While in Montreal, Ressa m associated with aliates of al-Q aida, but CSIS
did not regard his activities as t hreatening Canadia n security. During this
period, however, Ressam did manage to acquire a blan k baptismal certicate
stolen from the Catholic church. Assuming a new identity, he acquired a real
Canadian passport in March . Using this document, Ressam left Can-
ada, and CSIS lost all track of him.
Ressam travelled to Afghanistan, where he attended al-Qaida terrorist
camps. ere, he acquired explosives training. He also plotted with other
Algerians to att ack a US airport or consulate. Returning to Canad a under his
false identity with precursor chemica ls for bombs hidden in toiletry bottles,
a notebook with bomb-making instructions, and a large quantity of cash, he
then sought weapons, chemicals, and phony papers. Af ter his co-conspirators
proved unable to obtain travel documents to Canada, Ressam went ahead
with his plans alone, selecting L os Angeles International airport as his t arget.
After a week in Vancouver assembling explosive components with a close
friend, he packed the explosives in a rental car and drove onto the ferry be-
tween Victoria and Port Angeles, Washington. He and a new United States–
based confederate had planned to bomb the airport on  January . But,
at the border crossing, a US customs agent noticed Ressam’s evident nerv-
ousness. Subjected to a pat-down search, Ressam panicked a nd attempted to
ee. US authorities inspected the rental car a nd discovered the bomb materi-
al. Ressam wa s arrested and convicted. He is now known to history as the
“millennium bomber.
Ressam’s plot was halted. But it was alert border ocials that stopped
him, not surveillance, intercepts, or intellig ence sharing. ese ocial s inter-
dicted what could have been a devastating terrorist attack. Had they not,
there is every chance that Ressam would have succeeded. Enhanced tools
to physically foil plots and attacks are, therefore, a logical priority in any
anti-terror strategy.
Stopping terrorist violence before it occurs is called “deny” in the Can-
adian government’s  counter-terrorism strategy. For the government,
“deny” “involves mitigating vulnerabilities and aggressively intervening in
terrorist planning, including prosecuting individuals involved in terrorist re-
lated criminal activities, and making Canada and Canadian interests a more
dicult target for would-be terrorists.” Put another way, “deny” includes
everything from hardening infrast ructure to trials.
We do not nd this general and vast concept of “deny” to be a tremen-
dously useful ana lytical tool. It is too broad and ambiguous to t into our
analytica l threat response esca lator, explained in Chapter . And so in the
next ve chapters we subdivide “deny” into dierent categories, each mark-
ing a more assertive step on the escalator:
Interdict: measures that restrict movement
Restrain: measu res that restrict liberty short of criminal inca rceration
Interrupt: measures that are used to stop fea red terrorist attacks or
threats when other measures are unavailable
Prosecute: criminal tria l and incarceration
Delete: prosecution and deletion of extremist speech
is chapter covers “interdict,” which involves inhibiting the movement
of suspected terrorists, either directly or indirectly. Some of these tools reach
Canadians while others are available only in relation to foreigners within
Canada. In this chapter, we focus rst on those tactics that may be directed

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