Federal Court upholds Harkat’s security certificate because of links to terrorism

By Christine Duhaime | December 10th, 2010

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled that a security certificate declaring Mohammed Harkat inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is valid because Mr. Harkat’s ties to terrorist organizations pose a danger to the security of Canada. Harkat’s security certificate is the first to be upheld in Canada.

The Court found that Mr. Harket had links to Islamic extremist groups before coming to Canada and maintained those ties when he immigrated to Canada, and that he provided terrorist financing to Islamic extremists in Canada by, among other things, paying or facilitating the payment of legal fees to a law firm to assist Al Shehre (whom the Court found to be a jihadist, terrorist and Islamic extremist with connections to Al-Qaeda or the Bin Laden network) in a Canadian immigration matter. Shehre arrived in Canada in 1996 and was deported to Saudi Arabia in 1997 because of ties to terrorism.

Mr. Harkat is a foreign national from Algeria who claimed refugee status when he arrived in Canada in 1996. In 2008, a security certificate was issued against him by the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Minister of Public Safety.

Federal Court Justice Mr. Simon Noel found that Mr. Harkat’s testimony about his life was inconsistent and concluded that significant portions of his evidence was not reliable.

In issuing the security certificate, the government alleged that Mr. Harkat had:

  • Been an active member of the Bin Laden network.
  • Lied about his occupation in Pakistan.
  • Engaged in activities to support Islamic extremists organizations.
  • Been a member of the Front Islamique du Salut, an Algerian group that was aligned with a group that supports terrorism.
  • Engaged in activities in Canada for the Bin Laden network.
  • Arrived in Canada with a fake passport from Saudi Arabia.
  • Used at least 8 aliases to hide his true identity and conduct activities on behalf of the Bin Laden network.
  • Been a “sleeper” agent in Canada to conduct covert activities in support of Islamic extremism.
  • Used security techniques to avoid detection.
  • Lied about his past whereabouts, including time he spent in Afghanistan.
  • Concealed his links with Islamic extremists.
  • Maintained links to the financial structure of the Bin Laden network and concealed those links.
  • Engaged in terrorist financing by having access to, received, held or invested money derived from terrorists, or terrorist property.
  • Assisted Islamic extremists in Canada and other foreign nationals who were Islamic extremists enter Canada, including Abu Messab Al Shehre.
  • Maintained contact with international Islamic extremists or terrorists including some associated with the Bin Laden network and Ahmed Said Khadr, the father of Abdullah Khadr and Omar Khadr, and a known affiliate of Osama Bin Laden. Omar Khadr is serving an eight year sentence in Guantanamo Bay for murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism and spying.

At one of several public and secret hearings, additional evidence emerged – according to that evidence Mr. Harkat allegedly:

  • Rushed to get married to solve what he viewed as his Canadian immigration problem.
  • Considered his relationship with his new Canadian wife “not serious” and stated that he could leave her at any time.
  • Became engaged to an Algerian woman some months after marrying his Canadian girlfriend and promised to return to Algeria to marry her. He told the Court that he had no real intention of marrying the Algerian fiancee.
  • Looked for someone to impersonate him to write a taxi exam on his behalf.
  • Gambled and lost over $100,000 at the Lac Leamy Casino and Montreal Casino over a period of time when he held a minimum wage job or was unemployed.
  • Collected unemployment insurance while working.

Mr. Harkat used the services of a hawaladar while in Pakistan to transfer and exchange funds. The government believes the hawaladar was Hadje Pacha Wazir, who was alleged to have acted as a hawalar for Osama Bin Laden.

An earlier certificate was issued against Mr. Harkat in 2002. In 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada held that the enabling sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act violated Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms because they limited a foreign national’s right to know and answer the case against him or her. Consequently, those provisions were declared of no force and effect.

The Harkat decision is available here (In the Matter of a Certificate Signed Pursuant to §77(1) and In the Matter of Mohammed Harkat, 2010 FC 1241).

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