( In 2006, the Canadian Government had appointed a Commission of Inquiry headed by former Supreme Court justice John Major to enquire into the crash of an aircraft of Air India named Kanishka on June 23,1985. The crash was caused by an explosive device suspected to have been planted in a piece of unaccompanied baggage by Sikh extremists belonging to the Babbar Khalsa headed by the late Talwinder Singh Parmar of Vancouver, Canada. The report of the Commission was released on June 17, 2010. The Commission has found that a "cascading series of errors" by the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service allowed the terrorist attack to take place.This is the sixth instalment of relevant extracts from the report.)
In terms of the most important information regarding threats to Air India in
the year leading up to the bombings, CSIS appears to have been provided with
very few of the essential pieces of the mosaic possessed by other government
One of the most striking instances of the impairment of CSIS’s ability to benefi t
from the mosaic eff ect is the June 1st Telex.
On June 1, 1985, Air India’s Chief Vigilance and Security Manager in Bombay sent
a telex to Air India offi ces worldwide, warning of “…the likelihood of sabotage
attempts being undertaken by Sikh extremists by placing time/delay devices
etc. in the aircraft or registered baggage.” The telex went on to set out specifi c
security precautions to be implemented. These precautions included “explosive
sniff ers and bio-sensors [dogs]” as well as physical random checks of registered
baggage, at least until June 30, 1985.
Air India forwarded the telex to the RCMP Offi cer in Charge at Pearson airport in
Toronto, who sent it on to the Acting Offi cer in Charge in the RCMP HQ Airport
Policing Branch, requesting instructions on how to respond. The A/OIC sent a
telex to CSIS, asking for an updated threat assessment in relation to Air India.
CSIS responded with a threat assessment indicating that it was unaware of any
“specifi c threats” against Air India at the time.
In its submissions to the Honourable Bob Rae, the RCMP indicated that it had
forwarded the June 1st Telex to CSIS along with its request for an updated threat
assessment. The RCMP also told Rae that the heightened security measures
it implemented included the use of explosives-sniffi ng dogs to check the
passenger section of the aircraft prior to departure. Both of these statements were
The June 1st Telex not only was not sent to CSIS, it appears not to have been sent
anywhere other than to HQ Airport Policing. It was not even sent to RCMP NCIB,
the branch in charge of internal RCMP threat assessments.
The June 1st 1985 Telex was a key piece of the mosaic that never reached CSIS and
was never integrated into the threat assessment process about Sikh extremism.
The failure to forward the telex to CSIS eliminated any opportunity for CSIS to
consider the information it contained about the threat of imminent attack in
light of other information CSIS had received.
In his testimony, the former CSIS investigator in charge of the pre-bombing BC
investigation into Sikh extremism stated that knowledge of the June 1st Telex
would have given him a better understanding of the signifi cance of the “loud
noise” reported by CSIS surveillants when they followed Parmar, Reyat and an
unknown person into the woods near Duncan on June 4, 1985. A Toronto CSIS
investigator made precisely that connection shortly after the bombing when
he zeroed in on the Duncan Blast surveillance report and identifi ed the noise
referred to as almost certainly being a test explosion rather than, as previously
thought, a shotgun blast. ( To be continued)