It seems that Canadian intelligence agencies either jump to ridiculous conclusions on the basis of guilt by association or simply ignore specific evidence as in the Air India Case. The performance of intelligence agencies in this case is shocking as is evident by Major's reaction to some of the testimony.
Air India warned Mounties about bomb plot
CanWest News Service
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
OTTAWA — Air India warned the RCMP 20 days before the June 23, 1985 terrorist bombing of Flight 182 that Sikh extremists planned to target the airline with suitcase bombs or suicide squads.
Shocking telexes and letters about the threats from 22 years ago were revealed for the first time Tuesday at the judicial inquiry looking into the bombing and subsequent investigation.
“Assessment of threat received from intelligence agencies reveal the likelihood of sabotage attempts being undertaken by Sikh extremists by placing time-delay devices in the aircraft or registered baggage,” an Air India telex says. “It is also learnt that Sikh extremists are planning to set up suicide squads who may attempt to blow up an aircraft by smuggling in of explosives in the registered or (carry on) baggage or any other means.”
After receiving the telex, the RCMP asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for a new threat assessment on the airline, but neglected to hand over the critical information provided by Air India.
CSIS then issued an assessment claiming there was no specific threat against Air India.
Inquiry lawyer Anil Kapoor said the only explanation he has received about the lack of communication between agencies is “oversight.”
However, retired Justice John Major said it is tough to accept that something so critical would be overlooked.
“Oversight is not filling your dog’s dish with water,” Major said. “It is just surprising that that would be the explanation — oversight — for something as dire as that.”
The Air India telex called for “meticulous implementation of counter-sabotage measures for flights at all airports.”
“Basic responsibility for counter-sabotage measures is that of airlines.”
Air India hired Burns Security at Toronto’s Pearson Airport for greater vigilance in response to the warnings.
However, the RCMP officer in charge of airport security said in a June 5 telex to his bosses: “I do not feel there is a need for extra security by this force.”
The inquiry, which resumed Monday after several months, has heard dramatic examples of warnings to police that preceded the Air India blast that killed 329 people, and a second bombing the same day at Tokyo’s Narita Airport that killed two baggage handlers.
Victims’ families have repeatedly asked why more was not done to stop violent British Columbia-based Sikh separatists who were plotting revenge against the Indian government for its 1984 attack on the Golden Temple.
Earlier Tuesday, retired Vancouver police officer Don McLean testified he was told on June 12, 1985 by a good source that an associate of bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar bragged that something big was going to happen within two weeks.
McLean said he was investigating a threat against moderate Vancouver businessman Sarbjit Singh Khurana when Khurana was approached by Sikh militants for a meeting about the threat.
Manmohan Singh, then the high-profile spokesman of the International Sikh Youth Federation, asked Khurana for a meeting to pressure him to withdraw his complaint to police. McLean arranged for the June 12 event to be surreptitiously recorded, although parts of the tape were inaudible upon review.
At the meeting, Singh chastised others present for not doing more for the separatist cause, Khurana told police.
“No consuls have been killed. No ambassadors have been killed. What are you doing? Nothing,” Singh allegedly said.
Parmar associate Pushpinder Singh responded: “You will see. Something will be done within two weeks!!”
McLean said he took the information very seriously, passed it on to CSIS and the RCMP, but thought it was referring to a possible plot to target the Indian consul-general’s office or West Vancouver home.
He said he realized the reference was likely about the bombing when he heard of the terrorist attack on the morning of June 23.
“Once I knew about the explosion — that’s the thought that I had — that’s what (the reference) meant,” McLean said.
McLean admitted he might have gotten Khurana to ask specific details in the meeting if the constable had been aware that two criminal informants had told Vancouver police months earlier about a plot by Parmar associates to bomb Air India.
“We would have gotten (Khurana) more directly involved,” said McLean, who was seconded to the RCMP after the bombing to work on the case.
Intelligence that McLean got from community sources was contained throughout confidential documents released for the first time at the inquiry Tuesday.
One such telex says that another participant in the Khurana meeting, Harjit Singh Atwal, later “bragged that he knew about the crash.”
“In fact, he knew that it was about to be blown up,” the document said. “Atwal continues to state that (name blacked out) and other moderates are on the new hit list.”