Prior Federal Court ruling cited in Harkat's defence

posted on January 25, 2010 | in Category Security Certificates | PermaLink

by Mohammed Adam Source: The Ottawa Citizen URL: [link] Date: January 22, 2010 Mujahedeen leader in Almrei case 'not a terrorist,' judge found

A man the Canadian Security Intelligence Service considers a dangerous Islamic extremist -- and for whom Mohamed Harkat is said to have worked as a chauffeur -- was not a terrorist nor was he a member of Osama bin Laden's network, according to a Federal Court judge. In a recent judgment quashing the security certificate against Syrian-born immigrant Hassan Almrei, Justice Richard Mosley rejected CSIS's allegation that the late "mujahedeen" leader Ibn Khattab, with whom Almrei was also associated, was a terrorist. The judge acknowledged that there are reasonable grounds for others to disagree. "The weight of the evidence before me in this case, favours a finding that he was not a terrorist in his own right or a terrorist patron," Mosley wrote. "The information and evidence presented in this case, does not, in my opinion, support a finding that Khattab was a member of the bin Laden network." The Mosley decision was raised by Harkat's defence lawyers during the cross-examination of a CSIS agent Thursday, who is known only as John to protect his identity.A key part of the government's contention that Harkat is a danger to national security is that while in Pakistan in the mid-1990s, he worked for Khattab, who was involved in terrorist activities. The decision by Mosley raises questions about that part of the government case against Harkat, his lawyers say.

It's unclear what influence, if any, Mosley's finding would have on Justice Simon Noël, who will determine if the government was right to detain Harkat under a security certificate as a threat to Canada.

In a Security Intelligence Report on Harkat prepared by CSIS and filed in court Thursday, the spy agency too appears to acknowledge that Khattab had no beef with the West.

"However, contrary to bin Laden, Ibn Khattab has never been quoted as calling for a struggle between Islam and the West, and has never called for jihad against America or Jews. His struggle was against Russia and its occupation of the Caucasus," the report says.

John agreed during cross-examination by Norm Boxall that Khattab was not interested in fighting the West, but was fixated on fighting the Russians, whom he fought in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Chechnya, where he was killed in 2002.

The CSIS agent explained however, that Khattab subscribed to bin Laden's philosophy of a global jihad, and believed that Westerners should be driven out of Muslim countries.

Still, Boxall wondered why Khattab would send a sleeper to Canada for seven years to wait to be called to duty.

John acknowledged that he knew of no sleeper-agent sent to the West by Khattab, but said CSIS is not alleging that the late mujahedeen leader sent Harkat to Canada.

He told the court that it is not unusual for someone who served in one group, to end up in a different role for another group somewhere else.

John wouldn't, or couldn't say which organization would have sent Harkat to Canada as a sleeper-agent.

"What we are saying is that Mr. Harkat exhibited the characteristics of a sleeper-agent for the network. In other words, he would be willing to support the cause," John said.

"But we don't say which group ... or if there was a specific group he was doing that on behalf of, upon his arrival in Canada."

John is to return to the stand today.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen