CANADA – SOUTH MUSKOKA — A letter by an alleged terrorist sent to the Huntsville Forester’s office has staff at the towns of Bracebridge and Gravenhurst on alert.
The letter, claiming to be from a group called the Islamic Revolutionary Force, threatens to destroy beaches from Toronto to North Bay.
“We have started with the Muskokas and other tourist destinations. Your northern towns are extremely easy targets, unlike cities,” states the letter received at the Forester office on May 10.
The letter writer suggests beaches were destroyed over the winter months with snowmobiles, “easily and effectively making them unsafe and all but unusable.”
The letter arrived at the Metroland community newspaper’s office with the mail late Thursday, opened by an office employee who passed it on to the editor-in-chief.
Police picked up the letter at the Forester office in Huntsville on Friday morning, using gloves and putting it into a bag.
Metroland newsroom staff forwarded a copy of the letter to both Gravenhurst and Bracebridge municipal offices. Beaches in those communities were recently vandalized, with reports of hazardous materials found on several area beaches in late April. In response to the materials found, beaches were temporarily closed and cleanup of the hazardous materials took place in both municipalities. There is no clear indication whether the letter and the recent vandalism are related.
The letter was also forwarded to the District of Muskoka.
According to Michael Duben, District of Muskoka CAO, “The district has not received any threats of any kind nor have we seen any suspicious behaviour in and around any of our facilities. We have been in touch with the OPP and have been advised that appropriately trained law enforcement individuals are investigating this letter and similar letters received in other media outlets. We will rely on the OPP to advise us whether or not the letter constitutes an actionable threat and stand ready to take appropriate steps at that time.”
As a result of the hazardous material being found, the towns have implemented enhanced inspections of the beaches within the two communities.
“On May 11, 2018, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst were provided with a copy of correspondence received at the offices of the Huntsville Forester, which is part of the Metroland Media chain of newspapers. The correspondence set out new information threatening the safety of the beaches in the Muskoka region,” states a joint news release from the two communities. “Upon receipt of the correspondence, the letter was immediately referred to the Bracebridge detachment of the OPP by Bracebridge staff. The commander of the Bracebridge detachment of the OPP has confirmed that the correspondence has been received by the Huntsville detachment and has been referred to the OPP’s Crime Unit for active investigation.”
Staff from Bracebridge and Gravenhurst will remain in close contact with the OPP and will assist, as needed, with the OPP’s investigation of the letter received.
“The OPP will ensure that the municipalities are kept updated on the status of the OPP’s investigation. Additionally, the OPP will apprise the municipalities of any additional information obtained that may relate to the ongoing safety of the town’s beach areas,” states the release.
The statement indicates both Bracebridge and Gravenhurst are committed to ensuring the health and safety of the beach areas within the two communities and will continue to take proactive steps to monitor beach areas and to clean up any materials found. Additionally, based on future information from the OPP, beach areas will be temporarily closed to ensure the health and safety of the public, if necessary.
“The OPP is committed to working in partnership with area municipalities to ensure public safety and will be providing enhanced patrols around beach and park areas within the towns,” states the release.
Members of the community are asked to report any suspicious activity or acts of vandalism to the OPP.