- Feb 8, 2007
- Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Revoke their citizenship and deport them. It's plain and simple.
Charkaoui denies latest CSIS terror allegations
Spy agency alleges Moroccan-born Montrealer talked of hijacking plane
Last Updated: Saturday, February 23, 2008 | 7:03 PM ET
A Montreal man accused of having ties to terrorists has denied the latest allegations by Canada's spy service that he displayed secretive and violent behaviour and once discussed commandeering a commercial aircraft for "aggressive ends."
The allegations by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) against Adil Charkaoui came late Friday, as the federal government renewed its efforts to deport five men accused of having terrorist links.
In a statement issued by a coalition of Charkaoui's supporters shortly after the allegations were released, the Morocco-born Charkaoui slammed the latest accusations, calling them unproven fragments of information based on hearsay.Montrealer Adil Charkaoui was arrested in May 2003 and faces deportation to Morocco.
(Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)
In the statement, Charkaoui also reiterated his request "for a meaningful opportunity to clear his name of precise and defined charges in the context of a fair and open trial."
Charkaoui, a landed immigrant, was arrested in Montreal in May 2003 and accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent prepared to wage terror attacks against Western targets. He has denied those allegations.
A change in policy: going public
The case involves the so-called "Secret Trial Five" — a quintet of terrorism suspects all held without charge under special security certificates based on what was secret evidence that the accused haven't been allowed to see.
The five men — Charkaoui, Mohamed Harkat, Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub and Hassan Almrei — are all fighting to remain in the country against deportation orders.
Ottawa filed updated national security certificates against the five — including some pointed fresh accusations — following recent passage of new legislation.
The reworked law creates special advocates to defend the interests of those tagged for deportation under the controversial security certificate process.
The change is intended to bring the security certificates in line with the Canadian Charter of Rights, after the Supreme Court ruled the process unconstitutional last year.
The fact that Ottawa is now going public marks an extraordinary change in government policy while shedding new light on the murky world of intelligence gathering, observers said.
"They're quite open about the fact that they had intrusive warrants of one kind or another for surveillance or wiretaps," former CSIS director Reid Morden told CBC News on Saturday.
But critics said the government is only releasing information that suits its case with allegations the accused are still unable to defend themselves against.
"If the proof against Mr. Charkaoui, for example, is as strong as the government leads us to believe by its allegations, then why doesn't the government prosecute Mr. Charkaoui according to the Criminal Code?" asked Dominique Peschard, president of the Quebec League of Rights and Liberties.
Calls made by CBC News to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day's office were not returned Saturday.
Witness says Charkaoui was at al-Qaeda camp
CSIS claims convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam has identified Charkaoui as being present at an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.
The newly-filed documents also say that in November 2001, Charkaoui described the war in Afghanistan as a battle against Islam "led by the wicked and the Crusaders."
In June 2000, Charkaoui allegedly had a conversation with two others about their apparent desire to take control of a commercial plane for aggressive purposes.
The documents say he once applied to work in the air traffic control operations at Air Canada and, later, had an interest in working in the baggage section of Mirabel airport, north of Montreal.
With files from the Canadian Press