Ottawa, the 24th of April, 1970. In Wing ” B” of RCMP Headquarters, a security service officer opens a recently-created file, number 98-A-00219.[i] Recently created for ” B” Branch, responsible for counterintelligence operations against Soviet Block operations in Canada. Particularly Russia’s KGB and GRU, Czech StB, along with those of Poland, East Germany. File 98-A-00219, however, will have nothing to do with Soviet Block targets. The officer belongs to “L” Group, responsible for managing source files, containing the most secret documents of the Service.
For each file, an access list. Those not on the list must first get the approval of his supervisor.
The file could not be removed from L Group premises, no notes or copies were permitted, or electronic devices in the room. Groups would leave especially sensitive files, at “L” Group registry. Among them, 98-A-00219, volume 1 of which that day, first opened on March 24, 1970.
Why was the DEFLQ operations managed by “B” Group, responsible for counterintelligence operations against Soviet and Soviet Block targets, not the FLQ? Why were DEFLQ files kept in the “L” Group registry? Because they were among the most sensitive files of the RCMP., and the ” L” Group registry was the most secure. And why were DEFLQ operations managed by “B”? Because DEFLQ operations took place outside of Canada, and “B” had the most experience with foreign operations.
The more pressing reason was that “B” Group, being the elite operational group in the Security Service, with the best resources and experience on operations in Europe and the Middle East, and experience dealing with the most challenging opponents, the KGB and GRU. “B” also had the best contacts and working relations with the important allied services: CIA, SIS, MI5, Mossad. As we shall see, relations and co-operation with Mossad were of particular importance, because Canada and Israel had similar, and related, concerns with the same terrorist threat.
Perhaps the most important reason for the role of “B”Group, and for maintaining the files in “L”, was that fact that DEFLQ operations were escially sensitive. So sensitive that, even today, their true function, and their operations, remain unknown.
An audacious strategy
The DEFLQ was the operational centre of a most audacious strategy in the history of the RCMP Security Service. A strategy that began, not with file 98-A-00219 25 September1968, but with the government decisions of the fall of 1969, discussed in Crime in the National Interest and in Strategy of Tension – Place du Canada. A strategy of tension that brought some 60-some bombs or bombings in Montreal by the Pierre-Paul Geoffroy réseau, and a bombing in Ottawa that killed a woman.
Discussions with friends
The DEFLQ also emerged from discussions with allied services, in particular, CIA, SIS, MI5, and Mossad. Meetings with CIA liaison officer in Ottawa Bob Janzen. MI5 Director Howie Jones, SIS liaison officer John Taylor.
An example. The meeting, on 24 February 1970, of prime minister Pierre Trudeau, Howie Jones, John Taylor, and Leslie James Bennett, head of “B”.
And discussion with Mossad, with whom Canada shared a problem in the middle east, referred to in the second last paragraph of the following letter, from DGIS John Starnes to the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Security and Intelligence, Don Wall, 22 April 1970:
“Letter from STARNES to Don WALL (file D 927-2-1-D-29)[i]
I should like to refer to your letter to me of April 16th regarding an apparent plot to kidnap the Israeli Consul and Trade Commissioner in Montreal. The approach on this matter made by the Israeli Ambassador to a member of the Prime Minister’s office seems a bit unusual and especially as the Israeli authorities have been kept fully informed on this score by the appropriate Canadian authorities.
The Department of External Affairs was advised by us of the apparent plot to kidnap Moshe Golan immediately following the events of February 26th this year. At this time, investigations into the matter were in their preliminary stages and the responsible police forces had considerable work to accomplish before being able to lay any charges. Subsequently the Visa Control Officer in Tel Aviv was handed a note which raised two questions clearly outside of his terms of reference and having various political overtones. The Israeli authorities asked about a Mr. Ali Achmed Abu Elia of Lebanon who allegedly was active in the Canadian Arab Federation and in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. At the same time they requested, as a matter of urgency, details concerning the alleged arrest on March 26th by the RCMP of two French Canadians charged with the attempted abduction of Moshe Golan. The arrests, of course, were made by the Montreal City Police since the matter was in their jurisdiction. There has been close collaboration in this matter, between the various police forces concerned and the Israeli Consul in Montreal, Mr. Golan, was kept abreast of the situation.
It is difficult to know, with certainty, about the possible motives behind the plot or to add to what was said on this score in our letter of April 2nd, 1970 to the Department of External Affairs, a copy of which I attach for your information. Nor is it possible to say, with assurance, that some similar attemnpt may not be made in future.
It is not easy either perhaps to discern the motive of the Israeli authorities in making this latest approach to a member of the Prime Minister’s office. However, I suspect that it may not be unrelated to discussions authorized by the Secretary of State for External Affairs which the Department of External Affairs and the RCMP have been conducting for several weeks with the Israeli security and intelligence authorities aimed at exchanges of certain types of information. It may be that the Israelis believe that such tactics will persuade us to widen the scope of the proposed arrangements in ways which we have not been prepared to consider. For these reasons, you may feel it useful if Ambassador Evron were to be discouraged from using channels other than the Department of External Affairs in dealing with such matters.
I am sending copes of your letter and the enclosures, and a copy of this letter, to the Department of External Affairs for their information.”
The DEFLQ, and its operations, particularly those related to the Middle East, and the fate of Mario Bachand, be discussed in further posts.
[i] MG26, O11, vol. 46, file 46-15, Miscellaneous 1970-1971.