Hezbollah activating sleeper cells in Canada: report
The militant group Hezbollah has activated suspected "sleeper cells" in Canada and is poised to launch attacks against "Jewish targets" beyond the Middle East, according to a report.
ABC News is reporting that, according to intelligence officials, suspected Hezbollah operatives have conducted recent surveillance on the Israeli embassy in Ottawa and several synagogues in Toronto. Hezbollah is being helped by Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard, the officials said.
But they also told ABC News there is no credible information on a specific target.
'There's no way of knowing why this story was released, except maybe to instill more worry in the public.'
Hezbollah is apparently seeking revenge for the February assassination of one of its military commanders, Imad Mugniyah, in a car-bombing in Damascus, the officials said.
The group's leaders blame Israel. The allegation is denied by Israeli officials.
The officials said that U.S., British and Canadian intelligence agencies picked up information about a possible attack days after Mugniyah's funeral. As many as 20 suspected Hezbollah members have been under surveillance after as many as four suspected "sleeper cells" were activated, the officials told the news network.
As well, they reported that a known Hezbollah weapons expert was followed to Canada, where he was seen at a firing range in the Toronto area.
But Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former intelligence officer for CSIS, told CBC News that Hezbollah, which has lots of political and financial support in Canada, would alienate its supporters by launching attacks.
He also said it's very rare for Hezbollah to launch attacks outside of the Middle East.
"If we simply go by historical trend, that would be going against their usual practice," he said.
Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, told the Canadian Press that there has been "chatter out there" since the assassination of the Hezbollah leader, but Canadian authorities have said there's nothing to lead them to believe there's any truth to it.
"They've known about this alleged threat for a while, they've investigated it, and they've told me categorically that while the chatter is out there, and it has been for a while, there is nothing to lead them to believe that there's anything imminent or that in fact the chatter is real," Farber said.
With files from the Canadian Press