Other witnesses flatly contradict Kozbey's testimony that there were no warnings there would be a bombing of a plane. On the contrary there were specific warnings that not just a plane but an Air India plane would be bombed! The incompetence of CSIS agents is never but never punished and no one is ever held accountable for errors it seems. If the Arar experience is any precedent delinquent agents in CSIS and the RCMP are given promotions and I doubt that Zaccardelli lost any pension because of his resignation under a cloud. Who knows maybe he got a golden handshake.
It should be noted too that CSIS destroyed lots of material they had gathered on Parmar, evidence that could have been used in the earlier investigation or no doubt in court.
Sikh probe took wrong turn after Duncan blast: former CSIS agent
Last Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2007 | 2:55 PM ET
The investigation into Sikh extremists could have taken a "completely different turn" if CSIS agents had believed a 1985 blast in Duncan, B.C., involved explosives and not guns, a former CSIS agent told the Air India inquiry on Thursday.
Ray Kobzey, formerly with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, testifies Thursday at the Air India Inquiry in Ottawa.
(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
Raymond Kobzey said he likely would have focused further on suspected Air India mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar if he had known there was a possibility he tested an explosive device in the woods outside Duncan on June 4, 1985.
"Reflecting on this 21 years later, we would have treated the loud noise differently," Kobzey testified at the inquiry into the downing of Air India Flight 182.
Following the disaster, Kobzey said CSIS immediately notified RCMP that there could be a connection with the Duncan blast site. The RCMP sent an explosives sniffing dog to the site on June 28, where evidence of explosives was found.
"The significance of the Duncan blast came home to me at that moment," he said.
The flight exploded off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985, killing all 329 people on board. It had stopped in Montreal after leaving Toronto, headed for London's Heathrow Airport and then India. The explosives — allegedly planted by Sikh extremists — were loaded in Vancouver.
A second bomb, also loaded in Vancouver, killed two luggage handlers at Tokyo's Narita airport shortly before the Air India plane went down.
Searched for shells, casings
On the day of the Duncan incident, Inderjit Singh Reyat — the only person convicted in the bombing — took Parmar to the woods on Vancouver Island and demonstrated his ability to detonate an explosive.
CSIS agents, who had been trailing Parmar since early June because of his activism in the Sikh extremist community, followed the two men into the woods, but couldn't get close enough to see what caused the loud bang. The agents involved — Larry Lowe and Lynn Macadams — said they were greatly startled by the loud blast.
Lowe testified during Reyat's 1990 trial that he believed the loud bang was caused by a rifle and that he had searched the area for shells and shell casings.
"He's familiar with weapons. He thought it was a weapon," said Kobzey. "They did a cursory search for evidence … for shells, not thinking of explosive devices."
Kobzey, who gained explosives experience while serving with the U.S. marines in Vietnam before joining CSIS, left for a two-week sailing vacation four days later, on June 8. He said that likely wouldn't have happened if the possibility of an explosion had been raised.
"Things would have taken a completely different turn. I wouldn't have gone sailing, for one thing" he said.
Kobzey said he wasn't involved in the decision to end physical surveillance of Parmar on June 17, because he was on vacation. He said he later learned it was because the physical surveillance units were needed for another case.
"There had been little activity on the part of Parmar … and they felt they had to shift coverage to another target," said Kobzey. "There were far too many demands on far too many resources."
In those days, CSIS gave priority to Cold War targets such as suspected Soviet spies, he said.
Kobzey, whose lengthy testimony was methodical and self-assured, became briefly defensive when asked by the lawyer for the victims' families, Jacques Shore, why the agents didn't consider the possibility of explosives or why the Duncan site wasn't further investigated.
"You can sit here and say it should have been checked out. There were other operational priorities," he said.
Kobzey said at the time of the Duncan incident, CSIS was focused on a possible assassination attempt on Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was due to visit the United States in June 1985. Gandhi took power after his mother, Indira, was shot and killed by two of her bodyguards in October 1984.
"We were facing a threat to Rajiv Gandhi similar to what happened to his mother, Indira. We were focused on that happening," he said. "There were no hints a plane was going to be bombed."
"Perhaps it was a case of tunnel vision," he said.