Some time ago, S.I.S.I.S. showed that the 1995 siege of Ts'peten Sundance grounds and the 1996-97 MRTA hostage crisis were linked by the participation of psy-ops specialist Dr. Michael Webster. Webster -- instructor at the FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, best known for his involvement in the Waco, Texas massacre -- was closely consulted by the authorities at both Gustafsen Lake and Lima, Peru. Now another connection between the two incidents has surfaced: Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2).
Canada played a substantial role in the Lima hostage negotiations, at one point offering "safe passage" to the MRTA guerrillas. The Ottawa Citizen (article appended below) recently reported that this unsuccessful offer was in fact planned as a cover for an ambush by JTF 2, an elite and shadowy Canadian commando unit.
References to JTF2 in the Gustafsen crisis begins after two similarly treacherous events. On Sept. 11, 1995, Sundance camp members were driving to a pre-negotiated meeting with elders from outside the camp when the RCMP detonated a land mine in their path, ambushed them in Canadian Forces' armoured personnel carriers, and fired tens of thousands of bullets, including hollow-tip ammunition. The truck's occupants were rescued by Shuswap elder Wolverine and sustained relatively minor injuries only. The next day, RCMP snipers shot at but missed a camp member in an agreed-upon "safe zone." According to notes disclosed in the Gustafsen trial, BC's ranking RCMP officer Assistant Commissioner Murray Johnston wrote on Sept. 13:
"[W]e do not have the resources to deal with this situation...it is hell...we should not be there, we do not belong...beyond our skills...this is a military operation...members are very frightened...everyone - members, PO's all stressed...everyone too tired...one Team may break...tired - low morale - the situation is desperate...Brown call military recommend liaison with JTF2."A further mention of JTF2 occurs in the notes of RCMP A/Commissioner Brown with reference to attempts by the NDP Attorney General's Ministry to procure four .50 calibre sniper rifles. On Sept. 15, 1995 Brown wrote:
"Maureen Maloney from the Attorney General's Department called me. She has been advised that the Military turned down our request for the four rifles... D/Commr. Palmer states that JTF2 does not have the rifles..." (Notes disclosed at trial.)What exactly was JTF2's role at Gustafsen Lake? Given their proposed mission in Lima, we wonder if they had anything to do with the sinister intentions expressed by Brown on Aug. 20, 1995:
"The CO commented and I agreed that we need to clean them out entirely and not have any hanging issues similar to what occurred at Oka." (Notes disclosed at trial.)The long awaited public inquiry might tell us, but both the BC NDP government and the federal government of Canada continue to stonewall it.
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Top-secret military unit had secret plan to ambush guerrillas after hostage-taking
[S.I.S.I.S. note: The following mainstream news article may contain biased or distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context. It is provided for reference only.]
Canadian commandos planned to ambush Peruvian guerrillas during a 1996 hostage-taking incident in Lima, according to a book to be released today.
The ambush by members of Canada's top secret Joint Task Force 2 anti-terrorist unit was to take place if the guerrillas, holding 500 people hostage at the home of the Japanese ambassador in Peru, accepted an offer of safe passage from the Canadian government, according to the book, Tested Mettle, Canadian Peacekeepers at War. The book's authors, Esprit de Corps military magazine editor Scott Taylor and journalist Brian Nolan, write that the ambush plan was aborted after negotiations for Canada to provide safe passage to the Tupac Amaru guerrillas fell through.
A separate Citizen investigation has also determined that during the last several years JTF2 commandos have been put on alert to deal with the threat posed by Mohawk Warriors and in 1996 the unit was sent to Haiti to train and advise the Haitian police SWAT unit. In Haiti, the Canadian commandos went on raids to find arms caches held by extremists who threatened the stability of the newly elected Haitian government. JTF2 soldiers also helped in guarding Haitian president Rene Preval.
The commandos also deployed to the Oka and Cornwall areas to deal with the threat from the Mohawk Warriors, and although it is not known exactly what they did there, it is believed the unit conducted surveillance missions against the natives involving in gun smuggling and organized crime.
The military has maintained a cloak of secrecy on JTF2, which based at Dwyer Hill, just outside Ottawa, since its creation as an anti-terrorist team in 1992.
In 1995, the Citizen revealed that the unit had planned a raid to rescue 55 Canadian peacekeepers held hostage by the Bosnian Serbs. The JTF2 attacks on Serb positions were aborted after the peacekeepers were released unharmed.
As a policy, the Canadian Forces does not comment on JTF2 activities.
In the years following the creation of the anti-terrorist unit, the Defence Department has secretly expanded the unit to include roles similar to those conducted by other special forces units such as Britain's Special Air Service. The military has more than doubled the unit's size to 250 soldiers and the commandos are deployed on each and every large-scale peacekeeping operation. They have gone on secret intelligence-gathering missions in Bosnia. As well, the unit provided bodyguards for Gen. Maurice Baril during the aborted Zaire mission in 1996 and last year guarded Defence Minister Art Eggleton during his visit to Bosnia.
The government has spent more than $40 million on the unit, although exact figures are classified.
According to Tested Mettle, during the Peruvian mission an advance group of JTF2 soldiers was sent to Lima to do plan the ambush. The military's plan called for the main commando force to be flown in a Canadian Forces aircraft as a kind of "modern-day Trojan Horse," Mr. Taylor and Mr. Nolan write. According to the book, when the Tupac Amaru guerrillas boarded the Canadian aircraft as part of a deal for safe passage they would be most vulnerable to a surprise attack and could be ambushed by the commandos. News reports at the time suggested that Canadian troops would be used to guarantee safe passage for the guerrillas to Cuba or another country.
When negotiations for Canada to provide safe passage for the guerrillas failed, the JTF2 plan was aborted. The guerrillas were holding their hostages in an attempt to force the Peruvian government to release Tupac Amaru members held in prison. The hostage drama ended when Peruvian commandos swarmed into the Japanese ambassador's home, killing all 14 guerrillas in the attack and rescuing the hostages. The Peruvian commandos were being advised by members of the British Special Air Service, one of the elite units that Joint Task Force 2 regularly co-operates with.
According to Tested Mettle, JTF2 commandos were also used on an aborted raid on the Spanish trawler Estai during the March 1995 turbot fish war. The commandos tried and failed three times to board the Estai because of high seas and poor weather. The Spanish trawler was eventually stopped when a member of the Canadian Coast Guard fired a stream of machine-gun bullets across the ship's bow. The Spanish trawler stopped and surrendered to Canadian authorities and the incident sparked a diplomatic row between Spain and Canada.
The book also reports that during the 1994 United Nations mission to Rwanda, JTF2 soldiers provided security and set up an advanced operational base in Uganda to launch long-range, covert intelligence patrols into Rwandan territory. As well, during a 1994 visit to Canadian troops in Visoko, Bosnia, two teams of JTF2 commandos watched over Prime Minister Jean Chretien. At one point,as the prime minister toured the camp, just outside the base Muslim soldiers executed one of their own they accused of being a traitor. Mr. Taylor and Mr. Nolan write that the JTF2 snipers did not open fire on the Muslim killers as they did not pose a direct threat to the prime minister.
Mr. Taylor and Mr. Nolan wrote the 1996 bestseller Tarnished Brass: Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military. Tested Mettle chronicles the often-heroic efforts of Canadian troops to do their jobs overseas despite poor military and political leadership at home.