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RCMP Chief drops bombshell: Says, there is no evidence to suggest arrested Toronto-19 are a terrorist threat to Canada!

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, Our efforts seem to be paying off. One of the detained Pakistani students will be released today after an immigration adjudicator said she could find
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 28, 2003
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      Friends,

      Our efforts seem to be paying off. One of the detained Pakistani students
      will be released today after an immigration adjudicator said "she could find
      nothing at all to tie Mr. Akhtar to any kind of terrorist network or
      security threat."

      Surprisingly the head Canada's RCMP [equivalent to the American FBI] also
      said the same thing. This is how the Toronto Star reports on what he said on
      the case of the Toronto-19:

      "At a Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Halifax, RCMP
      Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli denied the men posed a security threat
      here, despite the references to security concerns raised at the detention
      hearings. "I can assure you there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that
      there's any terrorist threat anywhere in this country related to this
      investigation. It's an ongoing investigation," Zaccardelli said. When asked
      to explain the apparent contradiction, Zaccardelli repeated his statement."

      The Toronto Star story can be viewed at:
      http://www.thestar.ca/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Articl
      e_Type1&c=Article&cid=1062022213119&call_pageid=968332188492&col=96879397215
      4

      Baby steps, but we need to keep up the pressure. Those of you who live in
      and around Toronto, please attend a protest at a Canada Immigration Office
      in downtown today at 4:30 PM. Come to 25 St Clair East [Yonge and St.
      Clair], just east of Yonge and steps from the St. Clair subway stop.

      Kudos to the Muslim Canadian Congress for stepping up to the plate to speak
      for the voiceless.

      Tarek Fatah
      ===========================
      Adjudicator disputes terrorist scenario

      By COLIN FREEZE and MARINA JIMENEZ
      The Globe and Mail
      http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20030828.uterr0828/BNStory/N
      ational/

      An immigration adjudicator has called into question Ottawa's assertions
      about 19 detained men by ordering one of them freed from jail yesterday,
      ruling that there "does not exist a reasonable suspicion [to hold the man]
      on grounds of security."

      The adjudicator's words contrast starkly with those of immigration officials
      who have suggested that the men - 18 Pakistanis and one Indian - are
      possibly an al-Qaeda sleeper cell. In a bid to keep them jailed, officials
      have further said the men lived in cohesive clusters and seemed to be
      interested in nuclear-power plants, the CN Tower, flight lessons and making
      explosives.

      It is an ominous portrait that has been painted only in broad strokes as a
      police probe continues. Yet Aina Martens, a civil servant with
      quasi-judicial powers, presented a different picture when she presided over
      the detention hearing of a Pakistani suspect named Mohammad Akhtar.

      Ms. Martens ruled that contrary to the government's allegations, she could
      find nothing at all to tie Mr. Akhtar to any kind of terrorist network or
      security threat. She suggested the crux of his case, a question of
      misrepresentation, is routine "day-to-day immigration business" that has
      somehow been manipulated into a national security issue.

      She ruled that Mr. Akhtar can be trusted to turn up at a future hearing that
      will determine whether he can remain in Canada. He will be free to leave
      jail today should a family friend be able to post a $10,000 bond.

      Different adjudicators in several nearly identical hearings yesterday
      ordered other suspects, who were all arrested in Aug. 14 raids under an
      investigation known as Project Thread, to remain in jail. The other
      adjudicators all said the new security laws allow for men to be locked up on
      "reasonable suspicion" while police continue to scour through 25 boxes of
      evidence and 30 seized computers.

      Yet Ms. Martens, a member of the immigration division of the Immigration and
      Refugee Board, became the lone dissenter when she called for more conclusive
      proof and suggested the terrorism allegations are a complete red herring.
      When counsel for Immigration Minister Denis Coderre suggested Ms. Martens
      had made an error in law, Ms. Martens shut down debate and told the
      counsellor to save her arguments for the Federal Court of Canada.

      Ms. Martens also dismissed a widely publicized four-page legal document in
      which authorities string together disparate incidents into a pattern of
      seemingly incriminating behaviour. She said none of it adds up to a
      reasonable suspicion that the men formed a possible al-Qaeda cell.

      "If that [document] were true, however, why would anyone call attention to
      themselves by firing off a shotgun?" she asked. "And why would anyone go to
      a nuclear [power] station and ask to be admitted?"

      While such allegations were made against unnamed members of a larger group,
      none were made directly against Mr. Akhtar. After appearing at the hearing
      in orange coveralls, the man who marked his 30th birthday in prison is said
      to be is overjoyed at the prospect of freedom.

      "He said 'I am very happy,' " said Tariq Shah, his lawyer, after the
      hearing. ". . . He didn't understand why allegations of terrorism were
      levelled at him when he informed immigration every time he moved and never
      did anything wrong."

      For its part, the RCMP says it knows of no threat to national security in
      relation to the 19 men. "However, the RCMP continues to pursue its inquiries
      into any possible terrorist links this file may uncover," said RCMP Staff
      Sergeant Paul Marsh in Ottawa.

      Apart from the terrorism allegations, adjudicators have deemed other
      suspects untrustworthy and potential flight risks because they seem to have
      entered Canada by enrolling in the Ottawa Business College, a school the
      government insists was a sham. All of the arrests were the result of a joint
      RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada investigation into alleged
      violations of the Immigration Act.

      Government representatives point out that Mr. Akhtar said he attended the
      college for two weeks in September, 2001. Investigators argue, however, that
      the school was merely a diploma factory that had been shut down three months
      earlier, and yet somehow supplied him with thousands of dollars in receipts.

      The government says it has receipts that show Mr. Akhtar spent $50,000 on
      his education during his three years here, and yet has no diploma to show
      for it. At the hearing yesterday, Mr. Akhtar showed flashes of anger and
      frustration and occasionally spoke, insisting he attended the Ottawa
      Business College briefly before switching schools. "One-and-a-half weeks, 10
      days maybe," he said, in accented English, at the hearing.

      While officials pointed out the 19 detained men lived with roommates, Mr.
      Akhtar said he could afford $750 in rent by himself. He denied having
      "associates" involved in terrorism. Authorities suggest that another school
      he attended is under investigation, and that he worked illegally as a clerk
      at a Mac's Milk.

      Also yesterday, the Muslim Canadian Congress demanded an apology from the
      Immigration Minister and called for the release of all 19 men. The congress
      said officials had turned an immigration issue into a national security
      scare.

      A friend of two of the detained men also called for their release. Faisal
      Zafar said Saif Ulla Khan and his brother Aqeel Ahmed are innocent and
      worked with him delivering pizzas at the Pizza Hut he manages in
      Mississauga.

      "Aqeel was a nice person, punctual and not particularly religious or
      political. I would never think for a second this guy had anything to do with
      al-Qaeda," he said. Mr. Ahmed's aunt cried and asked reporters for a tissue
      at a detention hearing when he was ordered back to jail and was led away
      with his hands and feet in cuffs.

      Seven detention-review hearings were held yesterday, but only five in
      public. The other two were held in camera, suggesting two of the detained
      have triggered privacy rules by claiming refugee status.

      The remainder of the cases are to be heard today and possibly tomorrow. It
      is not known whether Ms. Martens will preside over any other cases.
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