Anti-terrorism experts say lone white supremacists are the biggest threat in Canada

Edmonton Sun/November 7, 2012

When Const. Curtis Rind pulled over a man without a valid driver's licence during a routine traffic stop, he didn't expect the man to start arguing that it was his god-given right to use the road.

But the man was part of an emerging group of domestic terrorists that police have been notified to be on the look out for because of their anti-government beliefs.

They're called "freeman" or "sovereign citizens," and basically believe the law doesn't apply to them, and they shouldn't have to pay taxes, Rind said.

Rind, an officer in southwest division, first learned about freeman citizens a few years ago through notices and information bulletins circulating throughout the police service. In the last six months, Rind said freeman citizens have increased their presence in the city and now seem to be all over the place.

"When you engage with these individuals in conversation, they quickly make it known who they are and what they're about. They try to explain that we're breaching their rights," said Rind, noting some of them have scripted notes they've practiced and explain to officers that they're impeding their freedom to move freely throughout the country. Some even spout common law from the 1800s.

"It can be a little off-putting as a police officer because almost 98% of the people we deal with understand why they've been stopped and are usually apologetic and easy to deal with. These guys go 180 degrees in the opposite direction."

It's extremists such as this that international anti-terrorism expert John Bain said police should be keeping a close eye on.

Speaking at an anti-terrorism workshop Wednesday, Bain explained the different types of terrorists that range from "freedom fighters" such as Osama bin Laden and eco-terrorists such as Wiebo Ludwig, to religious and other extremist groups like white supremacists.

At this time, it's the white supremacist groups that Bain believes poses the biggest threat to Canadian safety.

"You have Islamic extremists and religious extremists - you have a whole mixture in this country, but I think one of the things that has not come on the top yet are white supremacists. They are dangerous to society and they always will be," said Bain, noting people that are "lone wolves" are more dangerous than an extremist group.

"You can follow an extremist group. You can't follow a lone wolf because you never know what they are going to do. They are acting individually on their own ideology."

Canada has been no stranger to domestic and international terrorist attacks that have hit close to home.

In January 1965, a left-wing radical group bombed three American war planes being retrofitted at an Edmonton airport. Security guard Threnton James Richardson was bound, gagged and shot with a rifle when the perpetrator entered the airport. Two F-84 jets were destroyed and a third was heavily damaged by the bombing. An unemployed German immigrant, Harry Waldeman Freidrich, was arrested by police and charged with Richardson's murder.

Between October 2008 and July 2009, six natural gas pipelines owned by Encana were bombed near Dawson Creek, B.C. after letters were sent to local newspapers opposing the gas industry.

And during the 1960s and '70s, groups opposing the Cuban government began targeting Cuban property in Montreal and Ottawa with bombs and a bazooka.

Bain said Canada is vulnerable to terrorism for a number of reasons.

Open sources on the Internet show there are lots of people living in Canada with ties to terrorist organizations, said Bain, but they aren't the ones carrying out the bombings. Instead, they are the computer scientists, engineers and doctors that are doing all the leg work and planning for the attacks.

The four-day workshop, entitled Advanced Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), is offered to the public by the Edmonton Police Service.

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