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Plot began in chat room

The details surrounding this weekend?s arrests of a terrorist cell in Ontario, Canada , seem consonant with the organizational form and modus operandi of what this analyst has termed jihadist ?vanguard outpost? cells, which occupy a strata of the wider al-Qaeda global movement. The concept of vanguard outpost cells has been discussed in these pages over the past two years. For excerpts on al-Qaeda vis-?-vis this concept, please review the March 15, 2006 WAR Report. These cells are often homegrown, emerging from within the society that they will eventually target. Earlier examples of such cells include the Madrid and London train bombing cells. Details of the Toronto cell and its plots remain somewhat limited. Some 17 individuals were arrested in the counterterrorism sweep?12 men and five juveniles?ranging in age from 19 to 43 and representing a relatively wide cross-section of Canadian society. According to a Canadian government summary of some of the alleged plots given to a defense attorney for those arrested, the operatives are accused, as paraphrased by the New York Times, ?of planning to storm the Gothic-style Parliament buildings and take hostages. Then they planned to behead hostages unless Canadian troops were pulled out of Afghanistan and Muslim prisoners released?The men were also said to have plotted attacks on power lines, media offices and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation building in Toronto.? At least six of the 17 arrested attended the same mosque, the Al Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education, in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, and the New York Times reported that: ?Islamic community leaders in the Toronto area were surprised by the arrests and raised concerns that some of the younger men picked up in the sweep may have been led to participate in a suspected plot by older, more radical Muslims?? Canadian intelligence operatives reportedly began tracking the cell after monitoring members? anti-Western rhetoric and the discussion of potential bombing targets in jihadist chat forums online. According to the AP, ?Police officers are saying privately that Web surfing and e-mail among the suspects initially led to the investigation beginning in 2004, something that Canada’s ambassador in Washington, Michael Wilson , alluded to in an interview with CNN’s ?Late Edition.? ?My understanding of it is that the Internet played a very important part of it. Whether there was a direct inspiration or an indirect inspiration, the Internet was, according to the police, was a very important part of their activities,? Wilson said.? These details, along with similar findings from the London bombings, serve to underscore the role of the Internet for jihadists as: a global, viral pathogen of militant jihadist ideology serving to inspire vanguard outpost cells to militancy; as a medium for the dissemination of strategic and operational guidance and dialogue among jihadist militants; and as a virtual training camp for terrorist tradecraft and weapons engineering. Members of the cell reportedly trained together outside Toronto and had connections with two individuals arrested on terrorism charges in recent months in Georgia. After further surveillance, Canadian authorities reportedly viewed the Toronto cell as a preeminent terrorist threat. Canadian counterterrorism forces reportedly moved on the cell after it had ordered three tons of what they thought was ammonium nitrate assumedly for their bombing campaign. According to the Toronto Star, the ammonium nitrate was intercepted, switched with a harmless substance, and delivered to the group by undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police in a sting operation. The cell had also reportedly engineered a cell phone into a detonator. Officials say that the cell had plotted terrorist attacks against public targets around southern Ontario but have not disclosed specific targets. The

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OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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