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Canadian intelligence scandal casts shadow on Five Eyes

Top 5Canadian intelligence scandal casts shadow on Five Eyes

Canadian intelligence officer was the central figure in a terror network.

Earlier this month, the Canadian government sought 30 years’ imprisonment for one of their own, Cameron Ortis—a former director-ranked official with the National Intelligence Coordination Unit of RCMP—who in 2023 was found guilty of leaking secret information to members of an international terror network.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States.

The state prosecutor, Judy Kliewer, while seeking the prison sentence for Ortis, told an Ottawa courtroom that “His conduct betrayed the RCMP. It betrayed the Five Eyes alliance.”
As per the case documents, Ortis emerged as a central figure in the Altaf Khanani criminal network.

Khanani, a Pakistani national, has been on the radar of the US agencies since at least 2008 for laundering illicit funds for organized crime and terrorist outfits, including Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
In September 2014, the Five Eyes alliance—an intelligence sharing network made up of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—identified Khanani as a common threat and decided to work together to take him down.

As a part of their investigation, the Canadian authorities, in which Ortis was a central figure, launched “Project Oryx” to investigate the agents of Khanani who were active in Canada. At least three businessmen were identified in this secret operation—Salim Henareh, Muhammad Ashraf and Farzam Mehdizadeh.
However, later it emerged that Ortis, who was arrested in September 2019 by his own colleagues, was sharing all operational information with the same people the Five Eyes was investigating and had tried to directly contact Khanani to sell this top secret information related to the investigation.

The Canadian government was forced to take a tough stand in this matter as Ortis’ conduct was fast becoming a public knowledge and the local media was already on it, thereby erasing the possibility of removing the matter from the public eye.
The Ortis trial, the mind boggling revelations that are more sinister than a spy movie where double cross is the norm, and his conviction have raised multiple questions on the functioning of the RCMP and that of the “Five Eyes”.

Concerns in relevant quarters are being raised on how credible and unbiased are the inputs and information that the members of this halo intelligence setup share among themselves through this platform which is then used to level allegations against non-member countries.
Last year in September, the US ambassador to Canada, David Cohen had claimed that “shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners” had alleged the involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar, a designated terrorist under Indian law, was gunned down outside a gurdwara he led in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, in June.

Neither the US government nor the Canadian government has released any information to substantiate their claim of Nijjar being killed under the direction of Delhi.
As per relevant offices in Delhi, Nijjar, a “loud” and “divisive” Sikh figure, who used his clout to violent groups to settle matters and business, was likely killed in gang violence or as a retribution for a business deal that he undertook.

In wake of the revelations that have emerged in the Ortis case, officials in Delhi say, it is quite possible that “tampered” and “biased” evidence was generated and shared by Canadian officials with their partner members that implicated India in the Nijjar killing.
The fact that Canadian offices were heavily influenced by criminal networks, especially those with links to Pakistan’s deep state, has been brought out in public domain multiple times in the recent past in studies and investigation done by international agencies. It is an open secret that at least 30 top ranking former Pakistani army officials are now settled in different parts of Canada and using their presence to influence the policies being drafted by Ottawa.

In a recently released report by the International Coalition Against Illicit Economies (ICAIE), a national security-centric NGO based in Washington DC, titled, “The Growing Harms of CrossBorder Illicit Trade Vectors and Threat Convergence to Canada’s National Security”, Canada has become a “safe haven” and international hub for notorious crime groups as illicit trade in the country is “booming”.

“Canada has become a safe zone for the world’s most notorious crime groups and threat networks that are harming Canada’s national security and imperilling the security of other nations,” the report warned. According to its findings, “Canada remains a financial haven for kingpins, kleptocrats, oligarchs, and corrupt officials to reinvest stolen funds from their countries in real estate, energy, mining, and other sectors.”

While stating that tens of billions of dollars are being laundered through Canada annually from the proceeds of crime such as human, drug and weapons trafficking, according to the authors, multinational crime syndicates are increasingly setting up shop in Canada.
“Canada has become a major global refuge for transnational crime networks and their dirty money, including the world’s most notorious networks and their leaders like Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and the Sinaloa cartel, Chinese drug kingpin Tse Chi Lop, Hezbollah Financier Altaf Khanani, and other bad actors.”

Similarly, in a finding on the same subject by one of Canada’s own government agencies, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC), which coordinates and shares criminal intelligence amongst member police forces, organised crime and gang violence in Canada, have reached unprecedented levels during the second term of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who assumed office in November 2015.

According to data compiled by CISC, at least 3,000 criminal gangs are operating in Canada, out of which some are so powerful that they have been classified into three threat levels. As per the data, 14 of these gangs have been classified as National Level Threat and the crime they commit includes infiltrating police and security agencies. The failure of Canada to tackle these gangs have brought problems for the law-and-order machinery in other countries too as these gangs have established links in 52 other countries spanning across North America, Central America, Caribbean, Asia, South America, Europe, Africa and Australia.

India, as reported by The Sunday Guardian earlier (US and Canada safe havens for declared terror sympathisers, 24 December), has already informed both the US and Canadian officials about the evidence that it has collected which shows how a few intelligence officials of these two countries are promoting and supporting Khalistani groups and terrorists.

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