May 10, 2006

Canada plays down talk of an al-Qaeda attack

OTTAWA (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 on Wednesday 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."