Community Bails Out Canadian Detainee
- Release raises doubts about terrorism case
Eldest of 18 suspects granted bail after 17 months in jail
National Post, With Files From Jordana Huber, CanWest News Service,
And Catherine McDonald, Global News
TORONTO - The bail release of Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the eldest of 18
accused in Canada's largest terrorist sweep, has raised questions
about the strength of the Crown's case against the suspects.
Mr. Jamal, 44, once described as a spiritual leader to some of the
young men who allegedly belonged to an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist
cell, was released on Monday, 17 months after his arrest.
So far in the landmark case, which is regarded as a test of the
state's ability to catch and prosecute terrorists, the charges against
three of the youths have been stayed. Mr. Jamal was initially
implicated in a plot to bomb buildings, but that charge was dropped in
September. He remains charged with participating in a terrorist group
and providing or receiving terrorist training.
"At the early stages, the Crown's case tends, sometimes, to look its
best. That's because at the early stages, the Crown does not have to
prove it. They are just allegations," said James Stribopoulos, a law
professor at York University's Osgoode Hall.
"It is not uncommon with the passage of time, with the ability of the
defence to gain access to full disclosure, with the testing of
evidence at a preliminary inquiry, for the truth to emerge that the
Crown's case isn't quite as strong as originally believed or claimed."
In September, the Crown suddenly terminated a preliminary hearing and
filed a direct indictment, sending the defendants directly to trial.
The defence lawyers charged that the move came out of the state's
concern that some of the accused would be discharged after the
"We were able to get the bombing charge dropped after the preliminary
hearing," Mr. Jamal's lawyer, Answer Farooq, said after the bail
ruling. "We're hoping to get this matter as quickly to trial as
possible so he can be exonerated and go home."
Yesterday, Mr. Jamal was at his Mississauga, Ont., townhome with his
wife and four children on house arrest. Almost three-quarters of the
$100,000 bond posted for his bail was collected from community
members, his wife, Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, wrote on her blog.
A publication ban prevents the media from reporting on evidence
presented in court. Members of the Department of Justice could not be
"If you want to know what happened, if you want to know the truth,
come to the courtroom," Mrs. Jamal said yesterday. "Come hear the
defence, then make a decision."
Mr. Jamal spent 13 months in solitary confinement and claims that he
was beaten when he first arrived at Maplehurst Correctional Facility.
"One of the problems in our times is we no longer put sufficient
stress on this presumption of freedom. Keeping someone imprisoned who
has not been convicted is an exceptional measure," said Julius Grey, a
Montreal-based veteran lawyer.
The 18 suspects, who were arrested in the summer of 2006, were part of
a larger group of almost 50 that were under investigation, sources
told the National Post. Defence lawyers for the accused have said that
security officials cast their net too wide.
"There's a better-safe-than-sorry attitude," said Reem Bahdi, law
professor at the University of Windsor, who researches security
certificate cases and racial profiling. "These cases are made against
individuals, and the people who become involved in the investigation
develop tunnel vision. All they end up seeing in front of them is a
terrorist. This was pointed out in the Arar inquiry."
This is only the second prosecution under Canada's new anti-terror-ism
"The arrest of this alleged Toronto terror cell is clearly going to be
a test case [of ] the capacity of a Canadian intelligence community to
adequately and effectively pinpoint dangerous activity in Canada,"
said Wesley Wark, a national security expert at the University of
Ottawa. "If prosecution falls apart in court, if evidence looks
erroneous, that will cast a significant shadow over how well Canada
has ramped up its intelligence capabilities since Sept. 11."
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