Would you shill for Usama bin Laden?

Canadian lobby firm should not be doing business with Sudan military.

This post appeared in The Hill Times on July 15, 2019.

There are all kinds of consultants out there – heck, even I call myself a consultant these days. You would imagine that good consultants have a service to offer based on their expertise, acquired how ever it was. In my case, I can leverage 32 years in the Canadian intelligence community and a deep knowledge about terrorism (five books and counting so far) to help my clients understand what threat, if any, they are under. I am confident that I can provide that service and do it honestly and morally.

So what about Ari Ben-Menashe, the head of the Montreal-based lobby group called Dickens and Madson (Canada). Like me, Mr. Ben-Menashe is an intelligence veteran – he spent time with the Israeli government (I am unsure which organisation, Mossad or Shin Bet, he worked for). Like me, he provides services to his clients based on his expertise, whatever that is. Unlike me, his moral compass seems a tad off.

You see, Mr. Ben-Menashe has promised to ‘burnish the image’ of General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy leader of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) in Sudan. Yeah, those guys who kill protesters and who have historic links to the Janjaweed, Sudanese terrorists who engaged in violence in Darfur that some have labelled genocide. For his $6 million, Mr. Dagalo is relying on Mr. Ben-Menashe to get funding and weaponry in addition to ‘burnishing his image’.

Is anyone else bothered by this? Well, Amnesty International sure is. And now the federal government has asked the RCMP to look into whether this contract violates Canadian sanctions on Sudan. Good! It is the right thing to do.

It is hard for me to understand why Mr. Ben-Menashe would enter into such an agreement. As a member of the Israeli intelligence community he would have sworn to protect Israeli civilians from terrorist attacks from groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He is supposed to fight terrorists, not ‘burnish their images’.

I am trying to imagine what an accurate analogy would be. I guess it would be similar to me writing blogs and recording podcasts about how great Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden and Islamic State ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi are, after having spent 15 years at CSIS trying to stop these guys and their followers. I can assure you I will NEVER do that. I do try to understand the underlying ideology behind these terrorist groups but I still categorically and unreservedly reject what they represent.

In all honesty I have found consultancy rewarding and challenging. It is the former as I can do what I love when I want to without having to report to anyone over me. It is the latter as finding business is hard work. And yet I would not stoop to helping a terrorist no matter how slow business is. Somehow my Israeli confrere does not have that issue.

Shame on you Mr. Ben-Menashe! I hope the Mounties find the grounds to shut down this abhorrent deal you have made with the devil. You are giving those of us who dedicated our professional lives to keeping our countries safe a bad name. Get out while you can and start doing what your heart says it should. I am guessing that does not include shilling for terrorists.

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting and a retired CSIS strategic analyst on terrorism.