The Longest Unguarded Border
Tigerhawk makes the provocative case that Canada, not Mexico presents the most dangerous border to the United States. That's not because Canadians are bad people but because historical conditions have encouraged the establishment of questionable and militant expatriate communities there. He quotes Stratfor as saying:
Refugees who have sought and received sanctuary in Canada have included members of ethnic militant groups, such as Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, various Palestinian factions (including Hamas), Hezbollah, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh group. Many of these groups use Canada as a place of refuge, and most use it as a base for fundraising and political activity. However, some of those granted asylum have gone on to commit terrorist attacks.
Nor have these expatriate groups been idle, engaging in deeds ranging from blowing up an Air India flight to staging abortive plots to blow up the NY subway system and of course, the "millennium bomb plot". Not many Mexicans can be accused of as much. So is the north the border perilous? The recent arrest of mostly Canadian (and often Canadian-born) suspects in Ontario, with no apparent connection to Afghanistan or Iraq, changes that calculation somewhat. It suggests that a mechanism entirely independent of foreign training camps now exists which is capable of producing Jihadi forces. The difficulty of casting terrorism as a border problem collapses if this mechanism also exists in the United States.
At least some of it does. The Buffalo News notes the participation of Americans in the Canadian plot. And possibly Brits, Bosnians, Danes and Swedes.
Two American Muslims took a Greyhound bus from Georgia to Toronto in March 2005 and discussed possible U.S. targets that included oil refineries and military bases with members of the Toronto group now facing charges of plotting terrorist acts in Canada, according to an FBI affidavit. ... "The guys in Atlanta are strongly tied to the two arrested at the Peace Bridge," the source said. "It was the jumping-off point; it solidified the information the Canadians were receiving." ... A U.S. law enforcement official said investigators were looking for connections between those detained in Canada and suspected Islamic militants held in the United States, Britain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Denmark and Sweden. FBI agent Michael Scherck, in an affidavit filed in support of Sadequee's arrest, said Ahmed and Sadequee along with the Canadians "also plotted how to disable the Global Positioning System in an effort to disrupt military and commercial communications and traffic."
The elementary question of what this mechanism looks like immediately suggests itself. The classic leftist procedure for producing an "activist" follows the path of propaganda, agitation and commitment. Any process to create Jihadis would probably resemble this method in the essentials. There would be propaganda to intellectually and emotionally attract recruits; then an agitator would come to take the recruits in hand; and finally a process of building commitment in the recruit by assigning him or her gradually more important tasks would finish the process. There must be a definite path to creating Jihadis in Canada and probably an analogous process in the US as well.
The traditions of political and religious freedoms make it nearly impossible to identify actual institutions or objects with each stage of this process. Whether those objects are websites, books, universities, particular classes in those universities, professors, teachers, mosques, imams in those mosques -- it is almost unacceptable to name them in particular as villainous. To say "this mosque", "this course of studies", "this association" is part of the Jihadi assembly line would be to invite a concentrated attack upon oneself. Nevertheless the problem remains.
What's probable and demonstrated by the nearly comical lengths to which the Canadian authorities have gone to deny that any group or institution is suspected more than any other of terrorist leanings, is that things will proceed in a schizophrenic fashion, in a way similar to the Victorian approach to sex, whose existence was practically denied though it was to be found everywhere. It will become a subject akin to syphilis in the 19th century -- approachable only through euphemisms, code words and elliptical expressions. In other words, destined to be treated in an entirely dishonest and manifestly unhealthy way. The most amazing aspect of all is that this obscurantism will proceed from the very towers of Western intellectual enlightenment: the great newspapers, broadcast networks and institutions of higher learning. Darkness palpable streaming from what was once its brightest lights. If so the border that needs to be built cannot extend along a fixed strip of land. It may be that borders themselves are the problem, in the barriers to honesty which allow the Jihad to thrive in the shadow of our own political hypocrisy.