RCMP Chief drops bombshell: Says, there is no evidence to suggest arrested Toronto-19 are a terrorist threat to Canada!
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
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:
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.
Adjudicator disputes terrorist scenario
By COLIN FREEZE and MARINA JIMENEZ
The Globe and Mail
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
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
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
"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.