Entrapment, CSIS, and an RCMP Operation

Edmonton, Alberta (TFC) – The conviction of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody being found guilty of a manufactured terror plot by the RCMP was shown in the BC Supreme Courts decision by tossing the prosecution from court. This decision is historic in Canada and in North America; here we see Canada’s Anti-Terror strategy being found guilty, not the suspects.

The common law couple, Nuttall and Korody, is free now after the court ruled that they were entrapped by the RCMP. Justice Catherine Bruce said the police used “trickery” and “subterfuge” to coerce and manipulate Nuttall and Korody, via the RCMP plan, into planting and blowing up pressure cooker bombs at the BC Legislature on Canada Day in 2013.

The highlight of Bruce’s conclusion was this: “… the world has enough terrorists. We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor sufficient motivation to do it themselves.”

This was not a case of disruption by the RCMP. These were not people who were already actively engaged in a terror operation or who were connected and party to a violent group or organization. Rather the RCMP “took two people who held terrorist beliefs but no apparent capacity or means to … carry through with their religiously motivated objective and they … moulded them into people who could, with significant and continuous supervision … by the police, play a small role in a terrorist offence.”

It was shown that it was the police who created and manufactured a terrorist crime and then expanded lengthy work and generous resources that aided and abetted the couple, whom were both former drug addicts, living in poverty and “relative isolation”. “The police decided they had to aggressively engineer the plan for Nuttall and Korordy and make them think it was their own.”

Justice Bruce also said: “The spectre of the defendants serving a life sentence for a crime that the police manufactured by exploiting their vulnerabilities … is offensive to our concept of fundamental justice.”

Our understanding of our police and intelligence agencies is one of protection. They exercise lengthy and dangerous work to protect us and our national institutions from harm; they protect our freedoms and our civil rights from violation and degradation. Yet equally from this case we have been given the opposite. Whereby our national police and intelligence operations have shown us through our citizens own violation of their civil rights and the over expenditure and considerable resource allocation into an operation to assist “two people who held terrorist beliefs but no apparent capacity or means to … carry through with their religiously motivated objective”, that there was no existent threat that required the amount of work and resources (read: importance).

Unmistakable entrapment – a defence never succeeded before in a Canadian terror trial.

The decision has also deeper issues for Canada and US anti-terror strategies and tactics.

The emergence of Bill C-51 through a Conservative Harper government, made possible with Liberal help, gives us deep concern into how a government asserts itself into subverting terror plots, real or manufactured. Successful and pointed arguments asserted in the debate of C-51 showed an already disjointed and disconnected relationship between RCMP and CSIS, a standard of silo operations. This trial exemplifies that relationship further; “I find the police had very little evidence at the commencement of the undercover operation to support any reasonable suspicion that Mr. Nuttall was already engaged in criminal activity of any type. There was a tip from CSIS in the form of an advisory letter that was not corroborated by the RCMP investigation. The RCMP had no knowledge of the reliability of the source for the CSIS tip and thus could not assume it was accurate. General statements by CSIS representatives that Mr. Nuttall might be recruiting people for violent jihad could not raise a reasonable suspicion because the RCMP had no knowledge of the source or the reliability of the source of this information. “

Image Source: Alex Indigo, Flickr, Creative Commons Canada Canada flag on CNE. Taken in Toronto @ December 21, 2006

Image Source: Alex Indigo, Flickr, Creative Commons
Canada flag on CNE. Taken in Toronto @ December 21, 2006

The two part make up for a failed investigation is 1) limited CSIS information sharing and 2) the RCMP failing to corroborate sources, beyond the now obvious criminal intent by the police to create an event worth working on. Provided the RCMP determined that CSIS was not willing to provide needed intelligence to further the case against the couple, it was then incumbent on the RCMP to halt or pause the investigation/operation until such time they build reasonable grounds to support the source and its claim against the couple. However, that did not happen.

Canada’s broken and fractured terror investigations through agency silos, has not changed under C-51, already pre C-51 this was a long-standing issue, this systemic relationship was one that in 2010 the Air India bombing inquiry criticized. The Harper government demanded that expansive CISIS powers would be needed to better disrupt terror operations. This BC case has all but nullified this position as is evidenced by the verdict. Both of our security and police agencies were watching the couple, yet with limited CSIS information to police it meant that the police could not evaluate and confirm reliability of sources.

This makes for a dangerous cowboy type operation within both CSIS and the RCMP. With this case being the first ever to successfully argue that a suspect was fully entrapped by security and police forces to garner a successful conviction, future cases and operation will now enjoy increased scrutiny and increased observation. We risk even more than lost resources and wasted time from our agencies, but rather the tainted image and proven facts that police and security forces acted in ways that actually endangered lives, rather than protected them. Taking poor and isolated persons and using them to take part in a terror operation that would not have succeeded otherwise without state creation or assistance.