Canada,  Terrorism

Conspirator in Bombing of Air India Flight 182 Convicted of Perjury

On a CiF piece from Shehrbano Taseer, daughter of Salmaan, one commenter has alerted me to the conviction for perjury of Inderjit Singh Reyat in a Canadian Court.

Reyat remains the only individual convicted for involvement in the bombing by Sikh/Khalistani seperatists on 23 June 1985 of Air India Flight 182, which came down off the Irish Atlantic coast as it neared the end of a flight from Montréal to London. All 331 passengers and crew were killed.

Two hours beforehand, a luggage-bomb intended for Air India Flight 301 Tokyo-Bangkok had exploded at Tokyo Narita Airport, killing two baggage handlers. Reyat admitted to having constructed this bomb, and was gaoled on counts of manslaughter and conspiracy for 10 years in 1991 by a Canadian Court.

Shortly before his due release, Canadian authorities arrested Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri in connexion with the bombing of Flight 182. Reyat originally was charged with all 331 counts of murder, but pled guilty to one count of manslaughter for which he was sentenced to five years in 2003.

In 2005, the trial against Malik and Bagri collapsed due to inadmissibility of evidence. It was as a result of his testimony here that Reyat now has been convicted of perjury, which Canadian prosecutors say had an incalculable mal effect on the trial.

First, I am lost as to why Reyat’s lengthiest sentence was only for two counts of manslaughter, for involvement in construction of the Flight 301 bomb: what use other than causing mass fatalities could it have been put to?

Secondly, it should be noted that had Flight 182 came down an hour or so later – setting of timers is assumed to have been confused by differences in daylight saving time – it would have been fortunate to have ‘only’ resulted in a Lockerbie-style incident in the Irish Republic. More likely, it would have come crashing down onto the heavily populated approach to London.

Thirdly, the threat of the slow, inexorable collapse into medieval barbarity which is being seen in countries such as Pakistan certainly does have ghastly consequences for Western countries which experience regular transit of ideas and individuals with such countries.

Long before jihadist violence had been internationalized, however, other regional conflicts were being exported to Western situations. The suicide-terrorist backed, irredentist nationalism of the LTTE may have largely seen Western locations as being for logistical-planning, but here was Sikh ultra-nationalist leading one act of mass-murder (and one failed) in a Western skies which happenstance prevented from causing more acts on the ground.