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What we know and don’t know about the alleged Kingston terrorist plot

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The city of Kingston, Ont., is still reeling after a young person was charged with terrorism-related offences following thousands of hours of investigation by multiple police agencies and raids on two homes. 

Here is what we know (and much of what we don’t) about the case.

What is the young person actually charged with?

Police have laid two charges against the young person, who is accused of knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity and counselling another person to « deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive or other lethal device … against a place of public use with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury. »

« It’s interesting to me what they didn’t charge [the youth] with, » Leah West, who practices national security law and previously worked in the Justice Department’s national security litigation and advisory group, told CBC Radio’s The House.

« They didn’t charge him with S. 83.2, which requires affiliation with a terrorist group to be proven. Because there’s no reference to a terrorist group, that could tell me that perhaps they don’t think he’s associated with a group like ISIS, or they believe he may be self-radicalized or self-inspired. »

What did the alleged plot entail?

​During a press conference Friday, the RCMP said it received a « credible » tip from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in late December 2018 that there were individuals in Kingston planning a terrorist attack, which led to the police raids at two homes in the area Thursday.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told CBC News the alleged terrorist activity involved a plan to use an explosive device, but a specific target hadn’t been chosen yet.

Watch: security experts discuss Kingston investigation

Former CSIS senior strategic analyst Jessica Davis and former RCMP deputy commissioner Pierre-Yves Bourduas joined Power & Politics to discuss the latest developments in the terrorism investigation in Kingston, Ontario. 9:28

The source said the person or people involved had the intent, began acquiring the potential to create an improvised explosive device and formulated a plan, but the arrests came before a target had been chosen, the source said.

« There was no specific target identified but there was an attack planned, » RCMP Superintendent Peter Lambertucci told reporters.

After the arrests, the RCMP found « elements » and « trace elements » of homemade improvised explosive devices in an unspecified residence. The explosive substance was later neutralized, Lambertucci said.

What do we know about the suspect?

The identity of the accused has been withheld by police as the person is a minor and protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Because of that publication ban, little can be reported on about who the suspect is. Details about their family, which could reveal the identity of the subject, are also protected.

The person will be back in court on Monday.

A second individual, an adult male CBC News has identified as Hussam Eddin Alzahabi, was also arrested Thursday but has not been charged.

Police officers carry evidence from one of the homes in Kingston, Ont., that were raided. Two people were arrested and a minor has been charged with a terror-related offence. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Police described the relationship between Hussam Eddin Alzahabi and the person charged as an « informal friendship. »

Hussam’s lawyer, Mohamed El Rashidy, told CBC News that his client maintains his innocence and will continue to co-operate with the security services as the investigation unfolds. 

« He’s exercising his legal rights and he cares about Canada’s safety as much as the next person, » said El Rashidy. « He’s here studying, he’s doing everything that he can to be a contributing member to society and there is no reason to malign him or treat him differently than anybody else. »

Could there be more charges?

Former CSIS senior strategic analyst Jessica Davis said she wouldn’t be surprised if more charges were laid against other individuals as the investigation continues.

« What we know about terrorism in Canada is that individuals rarely act alone, » she told CBC’s Power & Politics. 

« They generally have people who they’re getting materials or financial support from or encouragement. » 

What was the motivation?

Despite repeated questions during Friday’s news conference, police would not comment on the ideological motivations of the people apprehended or say if they had any ties to foreign elements.

Davis said in order to lay the terrorism charge, officials would have had to have had a clear ideological link, so police are likely remaining silent because it relates to an ongoing investigation. 

« The individual would have had to been motivated by political, religious ideological considerations so they know what that is, » she said. 

« Whatever the motive is could tip off other individuals. »

Some of those details could come out when the case heads to trial and the Crown has to argue its case.

Was Kingston ever at risk?

While police believe an attack was considered imminent, officials maintain there was no credible threat to the people of Kingston.

RCMP officer Peter Lambertucci speaks to reporters in Kingston on Jan. 25, 2019. (Jonathan Castell/CBC)

« I want to reassure the citizens of the greater Kingston, Ont., area and all Canadians that during the investigation, our primary focus was the safety and protection of the public, » said Michael LeSage, a chief superintendent with the RCMP’s « O » Division.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the operation has not changed the country’s threat level. It remains at « medium, » where it has hovered since late 2014.

« The number one sentiment that I’ve been hearing is that people are reassured. They feel that law enforcement has done a good job and are on top of the situation, » added Mayor Bryan Paterson.

Why is FINTRAC involved?

The RCMP said they were supported by both Kingston police and FBI officers with support from the Ontario Provincial Police, Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).

That last agency stood out to some national security watchers.

As Canada’s financial intelligence wing, FINTRAC’s job is to detect, prevent and try to stop money laundering and the financing of terrorist activities.

It’s unclear at this time what role they played.

« The only reason that drew it to my mind would be if they were transferring money to an area that was flagged or receiving money that was flagged from an area that was of concern to FINTRAC or the banks, » said West.

West also pointed to CBSA’s shout-out in this probe as interesting, but it’s unclear what role they played.

Again, more details about the scope of the investigation are likely to trickle out in court as both sides build their arguments. 

Leah West discusses what the details of the investigation reveal. 9:43

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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