There may indeed have been a terrorist conspiracy that involved what the RCMP assistant commissioner Mike McDonell yesterday referred to as "training areas," where militants tramped about in big boots, cooked on outdoor barbecues, built bombs and used a wooden door for target practice.
That's the implication from the evidence shown to reporters yesterday: five pairs of boots in camouflage drab, six flashlights, one set of walkie-talkies, one voltmeter, one knife, eight D-cell batteries, a cellphone, a circuit board, a computer hard drive, one barbecue grill, one set of tongs suitable for turning hot dogs, a wooden door with 21 marks on it and a 9-mm handgun.
Or it is possible that the only thing that these bits of evidence prove is that a group of young men went somewhere where they tramped around in big boots, cooked on barbecues, played soldier and generally acted like jerks — which young men are occasionally wont to do.
The three tonnes of ammonium nitrate allegedly purchased was, as McDonell said, three times the amount used in the Oklahoma terror bombing of 1995.
But, as he also said, farmers routinely buy three tonnes of ammonium nitrate "every day." They use it for fertilizer, not bombs.
On this last point I have to disagree with Walkom. While most of the "evidence" presented can only be tenuously connected to potential terrorist acts, the "three tonnes of fertilizer" seems pretty damning, at least at first site. As many have pointed out, these guys weren't farmers, and I can't think of another reason they would need so much of the stuff other than to build some pretty big bombs.
Walkom also mentions:
... the infamous 2003 Project Thread fiasco, in which RCMP and immigration officials accused 23 Muslims of terrorism only to acknowledge later that at most the men were guilty of minor immigration fraud.
In short, everyone should keep their powder dry on this one. Or at least wait to hear the other side of the story (the defendents lawyers have not issued a statement yet).