File this under “What should be done about certain uncomfortable facts?”
As reported by CBC on April 1 at least two Canadians were among those who staged the Algerian terrorist attack last January:
A special CBC News investigation has confirmed the two al-Qaeda linked militants were Xristos Katsiroubas, 22, and Ali Medlej, who was believed to be about 24 years old at the time of their deaths.
The attack by the two Canadians and 30 other militants linked to al-Qaeda left more than three dozen refinery workers dead, the final 10 of whom were reportedly tied to gas plant piping and killed in a massive bomb blast.
Sources say it is likely Katsiroubas and Medlej intentionally blew themselves up in the blast; one of them could be only identified by DNA testing.
What happened? And what might it mean in terms of identifying and preventing other terrorist attacks? These issues have already received much attention. This newest case will generate even more.
The brutal Algerian raid that played out over four days was news from the get-go. In its aftermath, word circulated that Canadians may have been among the perpetrators. According to CBC:
Police sources say Katsiroubas is the likely attacker whom survivors have described as blond-haired and speaking fluent “North American English.”
A friend of the two dead men, 24-year-old Aaron Yoon, also traveled to North Africa to study at a religious school in Mauritania. According to CBC coverage, Yoon was arrested there in the summer of 2012 and he did not partake in the refinery siege. (Media inferences about Yoon’s actions and motives remain largely speculative at this point. His arrest came long before the January attack.)
Ian Austen wrote about Canadians killed in the refinery siege – and how this develpoment fits into other security concerns in Canada – in this New York Times article of 4/2/13.
Reporter Christie Blatchford offered up this op-ed saying after the Toronto 18 Canada should no longer be surprised by home-grown terrorists.
And? What next? Here are a few responses from Ottawa Citizen coverage of 4/4/13:
Security experts have said that the case highlights a need to look into better mechanisms to track people who are deemed to be security threats when they leave the country.
Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director at CSIS, went so far as to suggest in an interview this week that authorities be given the opportunity to remove passports from people who are deemed to be security threats — though he added that such individuals should be given the right to appeal.
The challenge of preventing terrorism – while upholding civil liberties – continues.