Inderjit Singh Reyat, Air India bomb-maker, gets out 30 years later

His bombs killed 331 people. But still no remorse.

By Terry Milewski, CBC News

Inderjit Singh Reyat, seen in 2010, still supports political-based violence, the parole board said, and has only recently shown “partial” acceptance of responsibility in connection with the the Air India bombings of 1985. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Terry Milewski
Senior Correspondent

Terry Milewski has worked in fifty countries during 38 years with the CBC. He was the CBC’s first Middle East Bureau Chief, spent eight years in Washington during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations and was based in Vancouver for fourteen years. He now covers politics as Senior Correspondent in Ottawa.

In the mafia, it’s called omerta — the code of silence. Thirty years on, that code means still more bitter medicine for the Air India families.

Once again, the bomb-maker is getting out and, once again, he is keeping his mouth shut, offering just enough tactical repentance to ensure his release — and no more.

He is Inderjit Singh Reyat, convicted three times but still the only man convicted at all in Canada’s worst-ever mass murder. Until Sept. 11, the bombing of Air India on June 23, 1985, was the deadliest terrorist attack anywhere, ever.

A mechanic from Punjab, living on Vancouver Island, Reyat bought the dynamite, the detonators and the batteries that took the lives of 329 passengers on Air India’s Flight 182, which left from Toronto, stopped in Montreal and exploded over the coast of Ireland on its way to Heathrow Airport in London.

A second bomb blew up nearly simultaneously, killing two Japanese baggage handlers as they transferred it to another Air India flight leaving Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Both bombs originated in Vancouver. The passengers who checked them in never boarded. The plan was to produce two spectacular massacres, one on each side of the globe.

In total, 331 innocents died that day. Most were Canadians. Dozens were children. Whole families were wiped out.

Perjury at trial led to acquittals  

Reyat, a member of an extremist group fighting for a Sikh homeland, was first convicted for building the Narita bomb. Then, at the Air India trial in Vancouver, he was jointly accused with two other Sikh fundamentalists for mass murder on Flight 182.

Reyat refused to tell what he knew, but cut a deal and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The other two, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted.

The wreckage from Air India 182, reassembled in a hangar, is seen from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)image004 (1)

Reyat’s silence, though, cost him a third conviction, this time for perjury. He had told bare-faced lies in court to protect his co-conspirators. After serving two-thirds of his sentence, the National Parole Board was bound to release him — statutory release is, after all, statutory — but it did so with evident unease.

 

Reyat, after all, is not just the only man to serve time for this atrocity, but he’s also, by the board’s account, the main reason why nobody else did.

“As a result of your committing perjury, the co-accused were not convicted,” the board said flatly in its decision.

That sums it up. Reyat knows who else was involved, but refuses to give them up and that’s why they have not paid for their crimes. The parole board seems unconvinced that Reyat regrets any of this, even now.

Citing a psychologist’s report written in 2013, the decision says the report found that he lacks “true empathy and remorse” for the victims of the bombings.

Is it so bad that he remains a threat, even today? The board offers little comfort on that score, either. It says that Reyat’s association with the group that blew up Air India was “inactive while incarcerated,” but that his “affiliation has not been terminated.”

So not much has changed. His affiliation seems as firm as it was in 2003, when he wrapped up his trial testimony by bowing, his hands together in salute, to his two co-accused.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, left, and Talwinder Singh Parmar are shown at the courthouse in Duncan, B.C., on Nov. 8, 1985. (Chuck Stoody/Canadian Press)

image005 (2)

That testimony was, essentially, a pack of lies. Reyat insisted, for example, that he never knew the name of “Mr. X,” the man from Toronto who stayed in his home for a week, with Reyat’s wife and children, while they built the bombs.

Prosecutor Len Doust was incredulous and asked Reyat, “Did you have his phone number?” Reyat said yes. Well, then, Doust asked, “If you called him, who were you going to ask for?”

Reyat just mumbled, He had no answer. But Justice Ian Bruce Josephson didn’t mince words in his verdict.

“Much of his evidence was improbable in the extreme and entirely inconsistent with common sense,” Josephson said.

“When caught in obvious and numerous irrationalities, he would seek refuge in memory loss … his evidence was patently and pathetically fabricated in an attempt to minimize his involvement in his crime to an extreme degree, while refusing to reveal relevant information he clearly possesses.”

And that, for Josephson, made Reyat’s claims of remorse fraudulent.

“His hollow expression of remorse must have been a bitter pill for the families of the victims. If he harboured even the slightest degree of genuine remorse, he would have been more forthcoming.”

Released to halfway house  

Now, after serving three prison terms, a remorseless Reyat is to be released to a halfway house under strict conditions. Explaining those conditions, the parole board addressed him directly, emphasizing that “you have maintained the lies you told in court as recently as mid-2013.”

image006 (2)

Wreckage of Air India is shown underwater from a trial exhibit. (RCMP trial exhibit)

The board goes on to acknowledge Reyat’s belated acceptance of a small measure of responsibility as the time for his release grew near.

“You have indicated that you now recognize that your deception while testifying demonstrates your support for political-based violence. Your shift to accepting this responsibility is only partial and relatively recent.”

Indeed. And don’t expect Reyat to stop maintaining his lies now. As we approach the 31st anniversary of the bombing, the code of omerta endures and the Air India coverup continues.

 

3 arrested in connection to Turlock Sikh temple brawl

Fight at Sikh temple involved 100 people

 

TURLOCK, Calif. (KCRA) —Three people were arrested in connection to a fight that broke out inside a Turlock Sikh temple. The arrests were made on Thursday and Friday.

Sandeep Singh, 38, of Ceres, was taken into custody for assault with a deadly weapon after investigators talked to witnesses and reviewed cellphone video, the Turlock Police Department said.

On Friday, Turlock police said two other people were arrested in connection to the temple brawl: Balwinder Kaur Bagri, 51, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and criminal conspiracy and Gurdev Singh, 47, was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.

A fight involving 100 people broke out at the Sikh temple, located on 5th Street, Sunday afternoon. When officers arrived at the scene, they didn’t see a fight but remained on scene because of heightened tension.

The Sikh temple is currently in a leadership dispute that has caused tension among its members.

A fight broke out again around 12:30 p.m. Inside, officers found several disturbances throughout the temple.

Police said Bagri and others confronted two victims outside of the temple’s restrooms and physically assaulted them. The victims suffered non-life threatening injuries that required medical treatment.

Witnesses told police that Gurdev Singh grabbed a chimta, a musical instrument used to hit drums, and swung it towards a group of people, hitting two people. One person was hit in the head and another person was hit in the arm; both got treatment for non-life threatening injuries.

With help from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and the Merced County Sheriff’s Department, law enforcement was able to gain control of the situation.

Several people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but no one was arrested Sunday night, police said.

The investigation into the brawl is ongoing.

Shaw to sell Global TV network, specialty channels to Corus for $2.65 billion

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS

CALGARY – Shaw Communications is selling its media division to Corus Entertainment for $2.65 billion — a deal that will help fund the telecom company’s purchase of Wind Mobile.

Shaw Media includes the Global Television network and 19 specialty channels including HGTV Canada, Food Network Canada and Showcase — formerly part of the Canwest business group before it was split up.

Corus already owns a number of other specialty TV channels as well as a network of radio stations and the Nelvana animation studio.

Both companies are controlled by the Shaw family through its voting shares. Shaw Communications will become a large shareholder in Corus as a result of the deal, which involves both cash and shares.

“Through this transaction we are able to crystalize an attractive value for Shaw Media and realize substantial value creation for Shaw shareholders since acquiring CanWest in 2010,” said Shaw director Paul Pew, chair of a special board committee.

Shaw Communications chief executive Brad Shaw added that “we are grateful to our colleagues at Shaw Media for their contributions to Shaw’s success over the past five years . . .”

It’s the second major deal for Shaw Communications (TSX:SJR.B) in recent weeks. The Calgary-based cable, Internet and satellite TV company announced on Dec. 16 that it’s buying Wind Mobile in a deal worth $1.6 billion.

The sale of Shaw Media to Toronto-based Corus will move about $1.85 billion in cash to Shaw Communications, which will also receive about 71 million Corus non-voting class B shares (TSX:CJR.B).

After the deal closes, Shaw Communications will own about 39 per cent of the equity in Corus, including both class A and B shares, but focus its own business on communications infrastructure rather than media content.

“With the previously announced acquisition of Wind and sale of Shaw Media, Shaw will be focused on delivering consumer and small business broadband communications supported by its best-in-class wireline, WiFi and wireless infrastructure,” Brad Shaw said in a joint statement.

Corus CEO Doug Murphy said the purchase of Shaw Media “positions the combined business as one of Canada’s leading media and content companies with significantly enhanced scale and growth prospects going forward.”

The Shaw Media deal is subject to approval by Corus shareholders, including those with non-voting shares not hold by interested parties. It is expected to close by the end of Shaw’s third quarter ending May 31. The Wind deal is also expected to be closed by about the same time.

Corus announced separately Wednesday that its revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 was $228.3 million, up from $228.1 million a year earlier. The increase was mainly due to its television division, which offset a decline in radio. Total net income was $41.3 million, down from 51.9 million in the comparable period.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story, An earlier version said $1.85 million in cash would go to Shaw rather than $1.85 billion.

 

Meet South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who might just be the Republicans’ Barack Obama

Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post |

Analysis:

A politician with a diverse background who doesn’t exactly fit in among colleagues gives a high-profile speech that seems to open a road someday to the White House. U.S. President Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention — or South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley giving the Republican response to Obama’s final State of the Union Tuesday night?

Haley’s response, well-received in some quarters, brought a five-year-old New York magazine question to mind: “Could Nikki Haley be the GOP’s Obama?” Its answer: “Yes she can.”

“Haley has suddenly gone from being a three-term state legislator to a nationally prominent politician,” Jennifer Senior wrote back in 2010. “She speaks well and looks terrific on TV. She’s young and has two young, telegenic children, and she stands out in a party of dreary white men. Sound like anyone else you know?”

Nor have parallels in Obama and Haley’s personal lives been missed. Whatever Obama and Haley are, they’re not white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

“Haley, like Obama, has an extraordinary ethnic heritage, which was both a liability and an asset during her campaign,” Senior wrote. “Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa — her parents emigrated from Amritsar, India, in 1963 — Haley often heard her full name on the campaign trail, just as Barack Hussein Obama did, when someone wanted to make the not-so-subtle point that perhaps she was insufficiently American for the job.”

Indeed, attacks on Haley’s faith — she was raised a Sikh — were a fundamental part of her opponent’s strategy in her ultimately successful gubernatorial run in 2010. “We’ve already got a raghead in the White House; we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion,” one state senator said at the time. And, like Obama, Haley was compelled to emphasize that she is Christian.

“I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both,” she said in 2010.

Some in the GOP have even questioned whether Haley is too much like Obama — stressing compromise when her base wants a standoff. After the State of the Union, Ann Coulter, the conservative gadfly who thrives on extreme rhetoric, unleashed a punishing tweetstorm targeting the South Carolina governor during her moment in the spotlight.

“Nikki Haley: ‘No one who is willing to work hard should ever be turned away,’” Coulter wrote, blasting Haley’s relatively moderate — at least compared with Donald Trump — views on immigration. “That’s the definition of open borders.” And: “Haley: Let in unlimited immigrants ‘just like we have for centuries.’ Has she read a history book? Coolidge shut it down for 1/2 a century.” And: “Nikki Haley: ‘The best thing we can do is turn down the volume.’ Translation: Voters need to shut the hell up.”

Coulter tweeted, “Nikki Haley says ‘welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of religion.’ Translation: let in all the Muslims.”

Coulter’s takeaway: “Trump should deport Nikki Haley.” For some on the right, the governor was just a mouthpiece for the GOP establishment. She even dared blame Washington dysfunction on Republicans.

“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone,” Haley said. “There is more than enough blame to go around.”

This is not what some of the Republican Party faithful wanted to hear.

“65 percent of conservative voters say the United States should not let in any refugees from the entire Middle East – the point of view Republican leadership is presumably attacking with its State of the Union rebuttal,” Julia Hahn wrote at Breitbart. “Yet Ryan’s strategy for the Republican Party’s State of the Union response seems consistent with GOP leadership’s longstanding practice of demeaning its own voter base.”

Yet, many appeared to embrace Haley’s tone. And some weren’t content to discuss Haley as a possible VP choice, despite her implied slam of Trump’s immigration policies. Given her skilled handling of last year’s mass shooting at a church in Charleston, S.C., and the Confederate flag imbroglio that followed, it appeared to some that Haley might have the right stuff for the top spot at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“She’s in the odd position of being the ideal vice presidential candidate who should have run for president,” South Carolina journalist Isaac Bailey wrote in an opinion piece published early Wednesday. “If the tragedies during which her leadership abilities shined most had happened in 2014 and not 2015, maybe she would have.”

Shots fired into Newton home

Police are investigating after bullets were fired into a Newton home this week.

Just after midnight on Monday, police were called to a home in the 9000-block 123A Street after reports of shots fired.

Shell casings were found on the road and bullet holes were identified in the home.

No one at home was hurt.

Nearby residents heard the screeching of tires as the shooters drove away, but no one has been able to describe the vehicle.

Mounties are canvassing the area for surveillance video to get a better idea of the vehicle or the gunmen.

Police have not yet ascertained whether the shooting was the result of a drug turf war that’s brought several shootings to the Newton area this year.

Surrey RCMP do believe it is targeted and say one of the people inside the home is known to them.

If anyone saw anything unusual in the area at that time, call police at 604-599-0502 or to remain anonymous, call 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Lieutenant Governor Encourages Females to Explore Unusual Possibilities

Vancouver, BC The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia is excited to share her passion for aviation and inspire female future leaders in Aviation, Aerospace, Marine and Defence at The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! 2016.

“I am delighted to participate for a second year in The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too!” said the Lieutenant Governor. “There are no limits to the opportunities girls and young women can pursue. I encourage them to explore aviation as an option and this event is a wonderful place to start.”

 On March 12-13, 2016 over 15,000 participants from around BC and beyond are expected at the Abbotsford International Airport, Abbotsford, BC for the largest outreach event of it’s kind, worldwide.

The event aims to address gender and cultural diversity in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence.  Most of the target audience have no experience with, or exposure to these industries.  Free flights are offered to female first-time fliers to draw females of all ages to the airport and pique their interest in further exploring the hands-on ground activities.  Advance registration is required for the free flights:  www.girlsfly2.ca.  As well, all participants are encouraged to try their hand at many aviation, aerospace, marine and defence activities.  Civilian and non-civilian agencies and VIPs will be on hand with aircraft and ground support/tactical vehicles to explore.

The event is open to the public and families are encouraged to attend.  No registration is required for the ground activities.  The events are completely free to ensure no barriers to participation.  This is made possible thanks to the generous support of industry and community partners such as The University of the Fraser Valley; Teck Construction; Government of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training; Abbotsford International Airport and Vancouver Airport Authority.

The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! events are part of an outreach initiative founded by BC pilot Kirsten Brazier in 2012.  Events are held annually during the week of International Women’s Day and in celebration of past, present and future women in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence.

Events organized by The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! have won several international awards and already set three world precedents as the largest single outreach event of their kind.

Despite the best recruiting and retention efforts of many, the number of women in technical and top executive/command areas in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence remains appallingly low.

Out of 24,505 professional pilots in Canada, only 5.5% of them are women.  Out of 19,601 aircraft engineers, only 2.8% of them are women.  Less than 3% of the technical/top command positions in the Canadian Forces are women.

From the numbers it would be tempting to conclude that women are either uninterested or unwelcome in these fields.  Instead, studies have shown that a common perception persists that aviation, aerospace, marine and defence are industries reserved for men.  From an early age, male and female alike are affected by this perception message, which is continually reinforced by observation (lack of change), media, social media and advertising.

The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too! employs a hands-on approach to capture the interest and attention of the missing female demographic.  “From shop floor to top floor, we’re inspiring future leaders!” says Kirsten Brazier, Founder.

 Brazier is a professional pilot from the Lower Mainland, BC and she holds Airline Transport Ratings for both aeroplanes and helicopters.  With over 20 years of flying experience, Brazier has enjoyed a diverse career flying across Canada, US and the Caribbean on wheels, floats, skis and skids as well as two-crew operations in both aeroplanes and helicopters.

Hate crime not ruled out in Fresno slaying of Sikh store clerk

Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer and Ike Grewal, a member of the Sikh Council of Central California, speak at a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016 about the New Year’s Day murder of Gurcharan Singh Gill, a 68-year-old clerk at Shields Express Mart.

By Jim Guy jguy@fresnobee.com

A $10,000 reward is being offered in the slaying of a 68-year-old Sikh man brutally murdered in a central Fresno convenience store on New Year’s Day.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer announced the reward at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in which an enhanced video of the suspected killer of Gurcharan Singh Gill was shown to the media.

“We need to identify this individual, arrest him and send him to prison,” Dyer said. The chief was joined at the news conference by Ike Grewal, a member of Fresno’s Sikh community, which is putting up $8,000 of the reward. The remainder is from the Crime Stoppers program. Police do not know whether the murder was committed because Gill was a Sikh, but investigators have not eliminated that as a motive.

Gill, who had lived in the United States for 30 years, was not wearing any attire that would indicate he was a member of the Sikh community when he was assaulted in the Shields Express Market shortly before 4 p.m. Jan. 1.

The video shows the light-skinned suspect, who police say appears to be between 16 and 18 and dressed in a red hoodie, jeans and a black baseball cap with a black backpack, walking south toward the market near Shields and West avenues from nearby Channing Avenue. He waited outside the market for about five minutes before entering, possibly to make sure there were no customers present.

Inside the store, the suspect went to a counter and apparently sought the help of Gill regarding something inside a counter. Once Gill was within about a foot, the suspect stabbed Gill repeatedly. Gill tried to push himself away, retreated and picked up a golf club. The suspect knocked Gill to the ground before returning to the cash register, which he could not open. He then took something from a shelf and walked out of the store in the same direction from which he approached. Gill died of his wounds minutes later.

Dyer said detectives are reviewing about 51 days of video from the store to determine whether the killer had been in the business before. They are also looking at video from other stores, canvassing the neighborhood for witnesses, conducting parole and probation searches in the area and asking school resource officers whether they know the suspect. Detectives are still trying to make out three white letters on the suspect’s hat as well as stitching on the backpack for more evidence.

Grewal said the Sikh community is fearful because the slaying took place in the aftermath of an attack on another 68-year-old Sikh man on Dec. 26. The victim, wearing a turban, was assaulted on Brunswick Avenue near Shields Avenue, west of Highway 99, about 7 a.m. He was attacked by two men who got out of a car and began shouting at him. He sustained a broken collarbone, cuts on his head and other injuries. A $12,000 reward is offered in that case.

“The Sikh community is anxious and to some degree afraid to venture out,” Grewal said.

Anyone with information about the crimes is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 559-498-STOP.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/crime/article53423305.html#storylink=cpy

Loonie set for unprecedented plunge to 59 cents U.S., top forecaster warns

BY ARI ALTSTEDTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS, FINANCIAL POST

The top forecaster of the Canadian dollar said the currency will fall to a record 59 U.S. cents by the end of the year as further weakness in the energy sector saps growth in an economy already stretched by a heavily indebted consumer and the Bank of Canada cuts interest rates for a third time.

The call from Macquarie Group Ltd.’s David Doyle, the top-ranked forecaster for the U.S. versus Canadian dollar exchange rate last year according to Bloomberg rankings, comes as the currency fell below 70 U.S. cents Tuesday for the first time in almost 13 years. The currency’s tumble to levels last seen in the late 1990s came as crude continued to reach multiyear lows.

“You could imagine the situation is worse today than in the 1990s,” Doyle said.. “We’re much more dependent on oil now than we were in the past.”

Macquarie was among the first major forecasters to predict the currency would hit these levels. A 59 U.S. cent Canadian dollar would mean one U.S. dollar buys C$1.6949.

The currency fell as much as 0.6 per cent to 69.90 U.S. cents Tuesday in Toronto,, the first time it touched that level since May 2003, as crude oil fell to a 12-year low of US$29.93 per barrel in New York. The first time the Canadian dollar weakened below 70 U.S. cents was 1997, before the country’s oil industry took off and when its government was wrestling with a budget deficit.

It mostly traded below 70 U.S. cents between 1997 and 2003, a period when manufacturing made up a larger part of exports than oil. Its all-time low was 61.76 U.S. cents in 2002.

Canada’s newly elected Liberal government has pledged to run deficits to help stimulate an economy hindered by the collapse in prices for crude, until last year the country’s biggest export, and consumer spending held back by near-record debt levels.

Even though Doyle predicted Canada’s central bank will cut its benchmark rate to a record low 0.25 per cent on Jan. 20, a weakened manufacturing sector and more competition from Mexico in the U.S. market, Canada’s largest trading partner, mean it will take longer for the country to see an economic benefit with oil prices still depressed.

Once the loonie reaches its record low, it will stay depressed through the end of 2018, Doyle said.

“Manufacturing and non-energy exports have far less ability to propel the economic outlook than they have in the past,” Doyle said. “Many of our oil and oil-related sectors have grown, and a lot of our manufacturing sectors have not grown and remained low.”

Man charged in death of his 19-year-old cousin in northern Alberta

RCMP investigators have charged 25-year-old Parminder Sakhon with second degree murder following the death of his 19-year-old cousin.

Pardeep Sihu was found dead on New Year’s Day following a report of a shooting five kilometres north of Rochester.

Athabasca RCMP officers arrived at the property around 10:20 p.m. on Friday and arrested one man.

Sakhon is scheduled to make his first court appearance Tuesday morning.

Police have not said how the man died and an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.

Rochester is about 100 kilometres north of Edmonton.

By Kim Smith CTV