Our Opinion: Catching terrorists

Friday, June 16, 2006

The arrests earlier this month of 17 suspects with links to al-Qaida were surprising both because of the size of the group and where they were apprehended: in Canada, with whom the United States shares its longest and least protected common border.

The arrests also raised several frightening prospects:

* The suspects sought to become affiliated with worldwide plots of terrorism.

* Several of the suspects were younger than 18 years old, an indication that the lure of such deadly involvement appeals to all ages.

* The suspects were Canadian citizens, not infiltrators who entered the county illegally or surreptitiously.

It is much to the credit of Canadian authorities that they were aware of the plotting going on among this group, which had been under surveillance for quite some time.

But the arrests also highlight the obvious: Terrorists find ways to operate almost anywhere. The terrorists involved in the 9-11 attacks were able to operate in the United States while reports of their nefarious activities were lost in the heap of official intelligence.

There are no thoughts of closing the U.S.-Canadian border. Not only would such an idea be impractical, the recent arrests offer some assurance that efforts to identify potential terrorists and stop them in their tracks are working to a large degree.