Canadian Terrorism Suspects to Appear in Court

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Toronto Mayor David Miller talks with Renee Montagne about an alleged terrorist ring that may have planned to bomb targets in Ottawa and Toronto. Most of the 17 terrorist suspects are to appear in court today for a formal hearing. Police expect more arrests related to the case.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

The suspects accused in an alleged terrorist plot to bomb several buildings in Canada are to appear in court today where the charges against them will be outlined.

According to court documents released yesterday, the charges include belonging to a terrorist group, running training camps, and importing guns and ammunition. Seventeen Canadian Muslim men were arrested, but five of them are under 18 and their charges have not been made public. Canadian authorities say several international connections have been uncovered and more arrests are expected. Among the suspected targets of the terrorist's plot was the Peace Tower in the Parliament building in Ottawa and buildings in Toronto. So we turn now to David Miller, who is the mayor.

Good morning. Thanks for joining us.

Mayor DAVID MILLER (Mayor of Toronto, Canada): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Can you tell us what of the targets were in your city?

Mayor MILLER: No, I'm unable to do that. That information has to come out during the court proceedings, the trial. I can say there were some rumors here, for example, that our transit commission was a target. And those rumors were false.

MONTAGNE: When did you learn about the investigation into this alleged plot? And what do you know about the evidence against these men?

Mayor MILLER: I learned of the investigation several months ago, when it was underway. At the beginning, I was briefed by our police chief. And I think the very positive thing from Toronto's point-of-view is that the national police service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, our local police service, Toronto Police, and our intelligence service, CSIS, worked very closely together.

And what the investigation has determined is there was a group of young men, apparently influenced by an older man in his 40s, who became quite radical and purchased the necessary equipment and fertilizer to manufacture three very large bombs.

MONTAGNE: What are you hearing, as Mayor, from the Muslim community there in Toronto?

Mayor MILLER: Well, our Muslim community in Toronto is a community that's very active, very involved in the city, a very peaceful community. And I have spoken with a number of the leaders of the Muslim community over the weekend. They're very shocked by what happened. You know, in Islam, if you kill one person, you kill everybody. It's a very peaceful religion. And they're as shocked as Torontonians are. And...

MONTAGNE: Well, they sort of are Torontonians.

Mayor MILLER: Sorry. They're shocked as every Torontonian is. And I think one of the concerns the Muslim community has, in which I share, is how could this small group of young men become so disaffected and alienated to fall into this very hard-line ideology?

MONTAGNE: Well, you know, interesting, because, you know, you wonder what can you do to keep people from being alienated. Canada has a very open society, very liberal immigration policy, very good social services. Are you at a loss for what to do now?

Mayor MILLER: Well, you know, all of the things you just mentioned are reasons why our city and our country work. We're very proud of our diversity. More than half of the people who live in Toronto, including myself, were not born in Canada. And I think that's why Canada works. And we don't expect...

MONTAGNE: Although, it didn't work in this case, if it's true.

Mayor MILLER: Well, we don't expect these kinds of occurrences, exactly because of our public services, because of diversity, because of our mutual respect for people of all backgrounds. And I don't - there's no easy answer. But I think that's the key question: how did this fairly small group of young men become so radical?

And the parallel I'd draw with the United States is Oklahoma City. You know, Timothy McVeigh becomes very radicalized. And I think the same questions could be asked. And that's the question we're going to be asking ourselves and working to address over the coming months.

MONTAGNE: Well, just in the couple of seconds we have left, if you would; I mean, how, in a sense, sad are you, given that Canadians, I don't know, maybe think of themselves as sort of better than this?

Mayor MILLER: Well, we were all shocked and saddened. I think the positive thing is our police services and intelligence service worked so well together, that we know we're safe. But we're not going to allow this to compromise our fundamental values. And our fundamental values in Canada are respect for everyone; we're a welcoming country. And all communities, particularly the Muslim community, contribute very strongly to that...

MONTAGNE: Fine. Thank...

Mayor MILLER: ...vibrant city.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much.

David Miller is the Mayor of Toronto, the Canadian city said to be one of the targets of the terrorist plot uncovered last weekend.

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