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Synagogues Across Canada Are Potential Terror Targets, Reports Say

November 18, 2002
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Synagogues in three cities are among 22 sites that Islamic terrorists might target in Canada, according to press reports.

Place Ville Marie, a commercial building and one of the most influential business addresses in Montreal, is on the list.

Also included is Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom, a Reform synagogue.

Elsewhere in Canada, terrorists could target Temple Sinai and Temple Beth Shalom in Toronto or Winnipeg’s Congregation Beth Israel, which this past summer merged with Congregation B’nai Avraham to form Etz Chayim, according to the report.

The sites were mentioned in a study, Combined Analysis of Potential Foreign Strike Zones, compiled in September by U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies, the Vancouver Province reported.

Sections of the report that the Province saw were printed on U.S. State Department letterhead, the newspaper said.

The 22 sites include nuclear power plants, public transport hubs and prominent landmarks, according to the National Post newspaper.

Rabbi Leigh Lerner, spiritual leader of the 91-year old Temple Emanu-El Beth Sholom it has been a congregation for 120 years, but changed locations in 1911 — first learned of the threat from the Post.

“I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I can tell you we’re always conscious about security at our temple,” he told JTA. “And Canadian Jewish Congress constantly briefs all the synagogues, to ensure we have the proper security measures in place.”

Asked why his synagogue would be targeted, Lerner pointed out that Temple Emanu-El is located on a major thoroughfare in an affluent suburb.

A terrorist who wanted to ignite a fuel truck, for example, would “park on a street where it’s normal for a large truck to do that, where you won’t stand out,” he said.

Security is being augmented in light of the threat, Lerner said.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in Ottawa on Nov. 14 for a meeting with Canadian officials, said he was not aware of the list.

Despite uncertainty over the accuracy of the report, the Canadian Jewish Congress is taking the threat seriously.

“We can’t ignore this report, or the fact that the threat could be real,” said Joseph Gabay, president of CJC’s Quebec Region. “We always have to take such things seriously and be vigilant.

“I am not surprised at all that, once targets have been named, Jewish sites are among them,” he continued. “I stress that we are also not panicking. Without going into details, I can assure you that everything that can be done is being done to protect the members of our community.”

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