Canada chides U.S. for remarks on 9/11 plotters

Wed Apr 22, 2009 5:18am EDT
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government moved on Tuesday to correct U.S. homeland security chief Janet Napolitano after she wrongly said some of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks had crossed into the United States from Canada.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan -- who met with Napolitano in March -- said his aides had contacted her office on Tuesday after she made the remarks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

"She was well aware at that time (in March) and understood clearly that none of the 9/11 terrorists came across the Canadian border into the United States ... We confirmed with her office this morning that she continues to be well aware of that," Van Loan told reporters.

Napolitano raised concerns in Canada with remarks indicating she wants to clamp down on border security, which businesses fear could throttle vital trade flows.

She told the CBC on Monday that "to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border".

Asked if she was referring to the 9/11 plotters, she replied: "Not just those but others as well."

Van Loan said Napolitano had been speaking about Algerian-born Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested in December 1999 as he crossed into the United States from Canada with a car carrying explosives.

Ressam was sentenced to 22 years in jail in July 2005 for plotting to set off a bomb at Los Angeles airport on December 31, 1999.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in the press briefing room at the White House, March 24, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing</p>