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National security review agency looking at complaint over arrest of Canadian ISIS recruit

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A complaint over the RCMP’s role in the arrest in the United States of a Toronto-area ISIS recruit has been referred to Canada’s new national security review agency, handing its members a challenging case early in their mandate.

A copy of the complaint obtained by Global News alleges Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy was “entrapped” by the FBI with the help of the RCMP, which was aware of his history of mental illness and addiction.

“Both agencies knew of his mental health problem and so entrapped him online, taking advantage of his unstable mental health, while he was manic and on the waiting list for mental health treatment,” the complaint alleges.

The case has been referred to the government’s National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, formed six months ago to increase the transparency of Canada’s national security activities.

 

El Bahnasawy is now serving a 40-year prison sentence in the U.S. after pleading guilty to plotting ISIS attacks in New York City. He is appealing the sentence.

His parents said their son was 18, off his medication and “rarely left his room” in surburban Toronto when he was arrested in New Jersey in 2016 during a family road trip.

They have questioned why the RCMP, which knew about his mental health problems, cooperated with the FBI undercover investigation instead of helping their son get treatment.

“We hope our complaint is taken seriously and our government intervenes to bring our victim sick son back before it is too late,” his parents said in a statement.


Osama El Bahnasawy and Khadiga Metwally advocated for their imprisoned son at last month’s Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto.

An official at the review agency, known as NSIRA, wrote to the parents on Nov. 6, saying their complaint was being examined to ensure it was “not trivial, frivolous or vexatious or made in bad faith.”

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NSIRA did not respond to questions from Global News.

But experts said there was no reason to decline the case, which touches on sensitive topics such as international cooperation and terrorism investigations in which mental illness is a factor.

“Sending the case to be reviewed by NSIRA was absolutely the right move,” said Prof. Stephanie Carvin, a national security expert at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

“NSIRA has the authority and mandate to look at operational information to review the files across government agencies.”

 

She did not take issue with the RCMP’s decision to investigate El Bahnasawy, since mental illness “does not preclude someone from engaging in violent extremism.”

But while the RCMP did not encourage El Banhasaway to travel to the United States, it also did not stop him. “NSIRA will have to decide if this was the correct policy to follow in its review,” she said.

The investigation began when the FBI infiltrated a group of co-conspirators in Syria, Canada, Pakistan and the Philippines.

In online messages, they planned attacks to be carried out in New York for ISIS. El Bahnasawy not only participated but also purchased bomb-making materials in Canada and shipped them to the U.S.

 

During the investigation, the RCMP obtained El Bahnasawy’s medical records from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto and passed them to the FBI, which arrested him when he crossed the border a week later.

U.S. prosecutors alleged he had been plotting what he had called “the next 9/11.”

“He planned to detonate bombs in Times Square and the New York City subway system, and to shoot civilians at concert venues,” said Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

 

But his parents deny El Bahnasawy is a terrorist, describing him as “vulnerable, weak, isolated” and awaiting an appointment with a specialist in Ontario when he was taken into custody.

He is currently being held in Oklahoma City, but the parents said he needed to be “in a hospital and not in a prison” and want him brought back to Canada, where they argue he will have better access to treatment and medication.

The Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C., has been monitoring the case, emails released by the family show.

 

Questions over whether police should intervene to de-radicalize terrorism suspects were raised in the case of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, who plotted to bomb the B.C. legislature on Canada Day in 2013.

 

They were convicted by a jury but later acquitted by a judge who said they had been entrapped by police, who continued an undercover investigation rather than examining a possible “exit strategy.”

“The RCMP has in place policies regarding vulnerability assessments in all undercover operations. So that was likely taken into consideration here,” Prof. Carvin said of El Bahnsawy’s case.

“In addition, recent court cases, such as the Nuttall/Korody entrapment decision are also having an impact on how the RCMP manages these kinds of cases with vulnerable individuals.”

Message Canadian Abdulrahman El-Bahnasawy wrote on his cell wall after he was arrested, according to U.S. prosecutors.

Message Canadian Abdulrahman El-Bahnasawy wrote on his cell wall after he was arrested, according to U.S. prosecutors.


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The newly-created NSIRA reviews the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Communications Security Establishment, as well as the national security and intelligence activities of all other federal departments.

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It also investigates complaints, replacing and expanding on the role previously filled by the Security Intelligence Review Committee. Complaints against the RCMP that involve national security are part of its mandate.

Leah West, who teaches national security law at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said she could not see why NSIRA wouldn’t investigate.

The review would likely look at RCMP information sharing practices and whether procedures were properly followed, said West, a former Department of Justice national security lawyer.

“It’s not a swift process,” she said.

BY Stewart Bell

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77 per cent of Canadians aged 55-69 worried about retirement finances: survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
More than three quarters of Canadians nearing or in early retirement are worried about their finances, at a time when more and more Canadians plan to age at home for as long as possible, a new survey has revealed.

The survey from Ryerson University’s National Institute on Ageing (NIA),conducted in collaboration with HomeEquity Bank, found that 77 per cent of Canadians within the 55-69 age demographic are worried about their financial health.

Additionally, 79 per cent of respondents aged 55 and older revealed that their retirement income — through RRSPs, pension plans, and old age security — will not be enough to be a comfortable retirement.

“Determining where to live and receive care as we age has been an especially neglected part of retirement financial planning,” Dr. Samir Sinha, NIA director of health policy research, said in a news release.

“These are vital considerations that can also be costly. With the vast majority of Canadians expressing their intention to age at home, within their communities, it is essential that we find both financial and health care solutions to make this option comfortable, safe and secure.”

As the COVID-19 pandemic revealed some shortcomings in the long-term care system, 44 per cent of respondents are planning to age at home, but many don’t fully understand the costs involved, the study notes.

Nearly half of respondents aged 45 and older believe that in-home care for themselves or a loved one would cost about $1,100 per month, while 37 per cent think it would cost about $2,000 per month.

In reality, it actually costs about $3,000 per month to provide in-home care comparable to a long-term care facility, according to Ontario’s Ministry of Health.

Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, the NIA’s director of financial security research, said it’s important Canadians understand the true costs of aging while they plan for their future.

“Canadians retiring today are likely going to face longer and more expensive retirements than their parents – solving this disconnect will need better planning by people and innovation from industry and government,” she said.

To help with their financial future, the researchers suggest Canadians should delay receiving any Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan payments as the monthly payments increase with year of deferral. For example, someone receiving $1,000 per month at age 60 would receive $2,218.75 per month if they wait until age 70 to begin collecting.

The researchers also suggest leveraging home equity and purchasing private long-term care insurance as ways to help with financial stability for the later years.

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U.S. energy transition to create Mexico auto jobs, climate envoy Kerry says

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Mexico‘s manufacturing sector stands to benefit from a U.S. transition away from fossil fuels including through the creation of jobs for building electric vehicles, John Kerry, climate adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, said on Monday.

“Mexico’s industrial base, already deeply integrated with the rest of North America, absolutely stands to benefit from the energy transition,” Kerry said alongside Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico’s Chiapas state, near the southern border with Guatemala.

Kerry traveled to Mexico to meet with his counterparts ahead of the upcoming United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, which neither Lopez Obrador nor his foreign minister is expected to attend.

“When we switch from gasoline to electrified vehicles, there are going to be a lot of good-paying jobs here in Mexico because of the connection already of the automobile industry and our two countries,” said Kerry, who visited a flagship reforestation project promoted by Mexico.

The production of automobiles in North America is highly integrated through the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

Under Biden and Kerry, the United States has stressed the need for more aggressive action to address global warming. Lopez Obrador, on the other hand, has cut the environment ministry’s budget as part of an austerity drive and dismantled policies promoting private investment in renewable energy.

Research coalition Climate Action Tracker rates Mexico’s overall climate plan as “Highly Insufficient”, saying its policies and actions will “lead to rising, rather than falling, emissions and are not at all consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.”

Lopez Obrador says he will tackle carbon emissions by revitalizing dilapidated hydropower projects under state control and through the tree planting program, called Sembrando Vida, which aims to plant 700,000 trees.

But he has also focused on reviving state-run oil and power generation companies, and his government has prioritized fossil fuels over renewable energy sources for Mexico’s national grid.

Mexico, the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter in Latin America, is seen as vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather patterns, with tropical cyclones and floods battering the country every year.

By 2030, Mexico plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22% over a business-as-usual scenario. Brazil, the region’s biggest polluter, aims to cut its emissions by 43% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Karishma Singh)

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Monday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

All Ontarians vaccinated against COVID-19 can now download their enhanced certificates, which include a QR code.

The provincial government has said the scannable documents will allow for faster entry into settings that require proof of vaccination.

The enhanced system officially takes effect on Friday, but Ontarians can get their new vaccine certificates before then, and businesses can start using a new app to verify those codes.

Residents whose birthdays fall between January and April were able to download the enhanced vaccination certificate through the province’s COVID-19 website on Friday, and further cohorts got access over the weekend.

Under Ontario’s vaccine certificate program, only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — or have a valid medical exemption from a doctor — can access certain settings.

They include theatres, gyms, nightclubs and restaurant dining rooms.

Ontario on Monday reported 373 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. According to the province’s health minister, there were 168 people in ICU due to COVID-19. Christine Elliott noted, however, that not all hospitals report data on weekends.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan will be transferring six COVID-19 patients to Ontario over the next 72 hours as the Prairie province deals with immense pressure on its health-care system.

Saskatchewan’s hospitalizations dashboard showed 85 COVID-19 patients in intensive care on Monday, topping previous highs. There are normally 79 ICU beds in the province, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

— From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | How COVID-19 vaccine mandates are impacting professional sports: 

The impact of COVID-19 vaccine mandates on professional sports

22 hours ago

Sports journalists Donnovan Bennett and Andi Petrillo talk to Ian Hanomansing about Canadian fans returning to the stands and how professional athletes are reacting to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. 6:11


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Vaccine inequity still driving up infections in hot spots, WHO official says: 

Vaccine inequity ‘driving up transmissions’ despite declining caseloads, WHO official says

6 hours ago

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, tells Power & Politics that despite the weekly decline in cases and deaths around the world, the lack of vaccine equity is still driving up infections in COVID-19 hotspots globally. 9:02

As of late Monday morning, more than 240.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In Europe, the U.K. reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in three months on Monday with 49,156 new infections.

Italy’s president on Monday strongly criticized the violence that has erupted amid protests over the country’s new coronavirus workplace health pass requirement, saying it appeared aimed at jeopardizing Italy’s economic recovery.

President Sergio Mattarella spoke out as riot police again clashed with protesters at the port in the northern city of Trieste, at times using water canons to push them back.

Italy on Friday became the first major European economy to require all workers — from hairdressers to factory workers — to present proof of vaccination, a negative test within the past 48 hours or proof of having recently recovered from COVID-19 in order to enter workplaces.

Police in Italy used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse people blocking a gate while demonstrating against the country’s workplace vaccination rules in the port of Trieste. (ANSA/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Russia’s total number of coronavirus infections has topped eight million, more than five per cent of the population, and the daily infection toll topped previous highs with 34,325 new infections over the past day. The national coronavirus task force on Monday also reported 998 new deaths from COVID-19.

In the Americas, the NHL has suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

WATCH | U.S. police officers fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates: 

U.S. police officers fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates

22 hours ago

Some police officers in the U.S. are fighting mandates to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, a move at least one mayor called ‘insubordination.’ 1:46

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s sports fans will be allowed to attend full-capacity events at all stadiums and other sports facilities starting on Sunday, the country’s ministry of sports announced in a statement on Saturday.

In Africa, South Africa’s drugs regulator said on Monday that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 shot for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

Egypt will mandate that public sector employees must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or take a weekly coronavirus test to be allowed to work in government buildings after Nov. 15, a cabinet statement said on Sunday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand will stop using the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac when its current stock finishes, a senior official said. Thailand has used the shot extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will remain in lockdown for another two weeks as it looks to control the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

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