Monday, November 29, 1999

Kanishka crash "non-probe", a Canadian atrocity: Inquiry head

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Toronto, June 18 (ANI): Canadians never really had an understanding of the investigations that were required to be undertaken with regard to the June 23, 1985 bombing of an Air India flight over Ireland, perhaps because most of the victims belonged to ethnic minorities, claims the retired judged who headed an inquiry on the tragedy and submitted his dmaning report in Ottawa on Thursday.Retired Supreme Court Justice John Major has gone on record to say: "I stress that this is a Canadian atrocity. For too long, the greatest loss of Canadian lives at the hands of terrorists has been somehow relegated outside the Canadian consciousness."Justice Major's report shows the manifold errors that made the bombings possible, and that led to the mostly futile investigations afterward.According to him, the terror attack on an Air India flight over Ireland a quarter of a century ago should serve as a wake-up call to Canada, whose defences against terrorism were woeful in 1985, and they are still weak.According to a Globe and Mail report, the country's airports are still not safe and the security authorities are not able to put the nation"""s interests ahead of their own.There is a welter of sickening detail in the 4,000-page report of the Air India Commission, which probed the Sikh terrorist bombings of June 23, 1985, that killed 331 people.That detail tells Canadians that the authorities they put their trust in to protect them from, and investigate, terrorism did not even understand the importance of their task.Not only were the security authorities unforgivably second-rate in everything pertaining to Air India, but also, even now, according to Justice Major, there is little reason to believe they are up to the task.It is to Prime Minister Stephen Harper"""s credit that he created the inquiry.His choice of the retired judge, then 75, was inspired. Beneath his plain spoken and down-to-earth style, Mr. Major has an incisive mind.He rejected the government"""s "that was then, this is now" argument. Almost as the debris of Flight 182 began to fall over the coast of Ireland, Ottawa was saying the problems revealed by the attack had been resolved. Not so. "There remains a failure to recognize what went wrong, why and what should be done today."Mr. Major"""s conclusion about the RCMP and the CSIS could not be more damning: "Despite its aspirations to be an intelligence-gathering agency, the RCMP showed a surprising lack of understanding of the nature or purpose of intelligence gathering."Canadian security authorities had enough specific and credible information to prevent the bombings, Major concludes. But they didn"""t, because of complacency, incompetence and turf wars. (ANI)

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