The Ottawa Citizen can’t seem to make up its mind regarding the threat level to the nation’s capital from terrorist organizations. Specifically, the paper calls out Iran as a top candidate for extremist action against Ottawa:
But the newly declassified ITAC report raises the spectre of a sophisticated assault by an organization with proven capabilities for political assassinations and bombings.
It describes Tehran’s intense displeasure at being isolated by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and notes last year’s alleged plot to derail a Toronto-bound passenger train is believed to have been directed by al-Qaida figures in Iran.
So, has Iran reached a violent tipping point with Canada? Is Ottawa sufficiently fortified? How concerned should we be?
Apparently we don’t need to be concerned at all:
Experts interviewed this week conclude this: Hezbollah is an important threat, but the probability of an Iranian-Hezbollah hit on the capital is low. If the aim was to strike against the West, there are other higher-value targets outside Canada.
“Canada is by and large off the political radar screens of most of these groups. It’s hard to see al-Qaida affiliates or terrorist movements abroad turning their sights on Ottawa specifically,” says Wesley Wark, a national security expert at the University of Ottawa.
But wait, according to Ray Boisvert, former head of counter-terrorism and later assistant director of intelligence for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service:
“We’ve done a lot and said a lot about Iran at the most senior levels and that could potentially have a tipping point.”
Okay, nevermind, we’re good:
“It’s an important threat, it’s not, however, the most important threat. I wouldn’t recommend government spend inordinate amounts of time looking at it.”
But before we leave this topic, are we sure Ottawa isn’t major targets for Iran? After all, they’re working on a nuclear program that is ripe for western military intervention:
“The reasonable calculation in that scenario would be that Iran would reach for whatever weapons it might have to strike back and one of those weapons would be Hezbollah and the possibility if using something like the al-Quds force.”
Actually, that’s not really a thing anymore:
But, “the whole spectacle of Iran launching proxy attacks in a certain scenario in which Iran itself is under attack, I think both elements of that story have gone away for now.”
So here is what we know for sure: we’re pretty sure there could be a threat to Ottawa. But maybe not. It depends.
Read more: The Ottawa Citizen