MONTREAL — Authorities are confident they will lay charges “in the near future” in the bombing of a military recruitment centre almost one year ago.
Canada’s elite counter-terrorism squad set up a command post at the Canadian Forces facility in Trois-Rivieres, Que., Thursday to encourage new witnesses to step forward.
“We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” said Sgt. John Athanasiades, a spokesman for the elite Integrated National Security Enforcement team.
“It’s advancing very well and I’m confident that in the near future we will lay charges in this investigation.”
The shocking strike against a military facility, on Canadian soil, occurred overnight last July and did not result in any injuries.
Athanasiades said the team has made “some serious inroads in the investigation,” which he called a priority for the Montreal-based police squad.
He said investigators want to corroborate some information they have already gathered and would welcome anything new the public could offer.
“We always look for the assistance of the general population in events such as this. In any major investigation, these are pieces of the puzzle we put together. It’s not overnight that we solve these investigations.”
Athanasiades said the team, which also includes investigators from the Quebec provincial police and the Montreal police, will check out every tip and people shouldn’t take anything they’ve seen for granted.
He said reports of even seemingly normal activity could prove useful to a terrorism investigation.
“Whether it be people taking photos or suspicious individuals around critical infrastructure, we will investigate all leads and we’ll identify to see whether or not it’s a national security concern.”
Athanasiades said people shouldn’t be reluctant to come forward, simply because no lives were lost in the bombing.
The explosion was powerful enough to have seriously injured or killed anyone passing by as it went off, he said.
Police have said they are investigating the radical Resistance internationaliste, which claimed responsibility for the bombing in a letter sent to various media outlets.
The group has also taken credit for bombing a Hydro-Quebec tower in 2004 and firebombing the car of an oil-industry executive in 2006.
The anti-globalization group says it opposes Canada’s military policies and its involvement in Afghanistan, which it described as a “foreign occupation.”
In its statement, the group railed against multinationals, imperialism, the “repressive orgy” at the G20 summit and pipelines in Afghanistan.
“This operation against recruitment centres is our resistance to the brainwashing and the intensive soliciting by the army of youths confronted with the emptiness of a degrading society,” the organization said.
“As for the soldiers of the Canadian army, let’s be clear — in no way are they ’ours.’ They belong to the person they stupidly swear allegiance to: Her Majesty Elizabeth.”
Trois-Rivieres police were tipped off minutes before 3 a.m. on July 2, when a blast blew out the glass door of the recruiting centre located on the ground floor of a high-rise hotel.
The building was not evacuated at the time and damage was limited.