Book Reviews

Reviewing Cold Terror

Posted By April 16, 2004 No Comments

Book reviews are not supposed to be effusive or enthusiastic, but some books deserve such treatment. There are many skilled reporters and journalists in Canada, many of whom are well known to the Institute and much admired here. However, when it comes to terrorism, our most earnest respect goes to Stewart Bell of the National Post and Kim Bolan of the Vancouver Sun. Most veteran writers and editorialists in the business get some snarled abuse from time to time, but very few have endured as much as Bell and Bolan have for their work on terrorists inside Canada.

Bolan’s book on the Babbar Khalsa and the militant Sikhs is currently a work in progress, as she must wait for the outcome of the Air India Trial before she can finish her manuscript – and the Canadian publishers McClelland & Stewart eagerly await her work as well. This left Stewart Bell as first off the starters block with a comprehensive survey of terrorism inside Canada.

Cold Terror reviews some aspects of the many overseas terrorists here, and the role that Canada has played in supporting international terrorism. Bell, who picked up the mantle as the most severe critic of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam from the Institute, and who carried the infamous Khadr family to our collective attention, has followed up on his excellent series of articles in the National Post with even more detailed work on who these people are and what they are doing here.

His explorations carried him from sleeping under shellfire in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, to being a nervous bystander on the edge of a Palestinian lynch mob, and into the beaten zone of an al Qaeda mortar barrage. What is more disturbing is that his investigations also brought him to corner stores, strip malls, and quiet suburbs across Canada. These are all connected, often in an immediate manner.

Canadians are on both sides of international terrorism nowadays, as victims and as perpetrators. Both categories are growing but this is also because we have allowed Canada to become a facilitator of terrorism.

Bell has long had an acquisitive instinct for data and information, and has amassed an impressive collection of documents and transcripts, but his reputation has also invited the occasional brown envelope over the transom from admirers inside Canada’s security services. This is largely because Bell has been merciless in fingering the suspects who have facilitated terrorism in Canada – our own political leaders, through laziness and willful political blindness. It was Bell who first carried the story about Paul Martin’s gala dinner with the Tamil Tigers in Toronto, and Bell who first pointed out that Jean Chretien helped spring Pere Khadr from durance vile in Pakistan. Bell’s j’accuse is even more clearly enunciated in this book.

It is the duty of every reviewer to find something to criticize in a book. Bell does not footnote his remarks, and the index seems a little slender. With this obligation discharged, one can only urge all of you to acquire your own copies and press more on your friends.