Letters threaten FLQ attacks in Montreal

An RCMP spokesman says the force is taking "very seriously" a recent threatening letter signed by a group claiming to be a new cell of the Quebec militant group FLQ.

Threats to bomb crowded areas in largely English-speaking western neighbourhoods

An RCMP spokesman says the force is taking "very seriously" a recent threatening letter signed by a group claiming to be a new cell of the FLQ, a Quebec militant group active in the 1960s and 1970s.

The letter, dated Jan. 15, says "strategic targets of importance" will be targeted in the western, largely English-speaking part of Montreal between Feb. 15 and March 15.

It mentions crowded shopping malls, bridges, rail lines, airport facilities, water supplies, municipal buildings and service stations.

"We will especially target traffic on main highways," says the letter.

The letter says the plan of attack is designed "for maximum impact" and warns "it's possible there will be injuries and deaths."

The letter adds that "a combination of vehicles, letter bombs, remote-control explosive devices will be used and most of these devices are already in place."

RCMP Cpl. Luc Bessette said Thursday that businesses that don't conform to Quebec's French-language sign law were also threatened.

Bessette said the RCMP is not dismissing the threats.

"Anything that has to do with the integrity and security of our citizens is always taken seriously," Bessette said.

The letter was sent to Bob Benedetti, described in the letter as the "loudmouth" mayor of the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield, as well as Quebec Premier Jean Charest and French President Jacques Chirac. It also said Benedetti was "designated to distribute the message to his colleagues" in more than a dozen predominantly anglophone communities.

The letter, which is signed: "FLQ, Camille-Laurin Cell," is the second of its kind. The first one was received on Nov. 15, 2006.

Camille Laurin was a Parti Québécois cabinet minister responsible for the province's language law in the 1970s.

The Front de libération du Québec (Quebec Liberation Front) was a pro-sovereignty militant group that carried out a campaign of bombings in the 1960s and sparked the 1970 October Crisis when a British diplomat was kidnapped and then Quebec's labour minister, Pierre Laporte, was kidnapped and later killed.

No sign that threats could be carried out: RCMP

The RCMP stressed there was no indication those responsible for the letter could carry out their threats.

"So far we have no indication they can do what they're saying," Bessette added.

The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which includes Montreal police, provincial police, the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents, have been investigating since mid-November.

Benedetti said his staff were able to extract the letter from the mail and send it to police unopened.

"My staff were able to recognize it in the mail based on information the RCMP gave us regarding the first letter in November," Benedetti said.