Ottawa man grilled about buying fake passport

posted on October 29, 2004 | in Category Mohamed Harkat | PermaLink

Original author: CP
Source: The Globe and Mail online
URL: [link]
Date: October 28, 2004

Ottawa - Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa man accused of being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, was grilled Thursday about where he got $1,200 (U.S.) to buy a fake passport that he used to enter Canada.

Crown counsel James Mathieson questioned whether Mr. Harkat could have saved up a total of $18,000 US working at a charitable organization in Pakistan in the early 1990s.

"That's pretty good money for that part of the world, isn't it?" Mr. Mathieson asked Mr. Harkat during the Federal Court of Canada hearing.

The government is trying to deport the 36-year-old Mr. Harkat, a refugee from Algeria, under a national-security certificate based on information collected by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.The Federal Court will either uphold or quash the certificate. If it is ruled valid, Mr. Harkat will be slated for removal from Canada.

Some details of the government's case remain secret, available only to the court.

Proceedings adjourned Thursday until Dec. 6.

CSIS contends that Mr. Harkat is an Islamic extremist and collaborator with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

The spy service, which watched Mr. Harkat for five years before his December, 2002, arrest, also argues that he supports Afghan, Pakistani and Chechen extremists.

CSIS contends that Abu Zubaydah, one of Mr. bin Laden's chief lieutenants, identified Mr. Harkat as the operator of a guest house in Pakistan for armed fighters travelling to Chechnya.

Mr. Harkat told the court on Wednesday that he has never had dealings with al-Qaeda.

The Algerian-born Harkat flew to Toronto in 1995 from Malaysia using a false Saudi Arabian passport and promptly made a refugee claim.

In the claim, Mr. Harkat acknowledged supporting Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which was a legitimate political organization when he became involved in the late 1980s.

After an Algerian government crackdown on the FIS, Mr. Harkat went into hiding, eventually moving to Pakistan.

CSIS maintains that when the FIS severed its links with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Mr. Harkat indicated that his loyalties were with the GIA. The group aims to establish an Islamic state in Algeria through terrorism.

Mr. Harkat acknowledges working in Pakistan from 1990 to 1994 as a supervisor at a Muslim World League warehouse facility for Afghan refugees located between Peshawar and Islamabad.

He says he helped supply the needy with food, blankets and tents.

CSIS contends that he was deceptive about his employment with the Muslim organization.

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