Canada’s War on Islam: The Case of Mohamed Harkat

by Stephen Lendman / June 2nd, 2010

Like in America post-9/11, Canadian Muslims have been victimized,
vilified, and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, and
activism. They’ve been targeted, hunted down, rounded up, held in
detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to
counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted or incriminated on bogus
charges, given long sentences and incarcerated as political prisoners or
deported to certain torture, imprisonment or death by so-called
democratic countries that, in fact, mock the rule of law and judicial
fairness.

Victims are pawns in the war on terror — how rogue states intimidate
populations to accept foreign wars and homeland repression to mask their
more sinister agenda. Today, it reflects unbridled militarism,
permanent wars, imperial conquest, and planned economic crises causing
lost jobs, homes, benefits, futures, and the greatest ever wealth
transfer to the rich, largely below the radar.

In her 2005 paper, “Securing Canada: Muslims and the Myth of
Multiculturalism in the post-911 World,” Samantha Arnold discussed the
environment as defined by Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act and the
Canadian-US Smart Border Declaration, saying:

….Arab and Muslim Canadians have been ‘painted with the
bin Laden brush,’ cast as terrorists, interrogated and detained on the
basis of secret evidence, subjected to hate crimes, denied passage
across international borders, represented in racist and demeaning ways
in the media, and constructed as ‘aliens’ in Canada notwithstanding
their citizenship (or legal residency) status.

It flies in the face of the country’s image as a tolerant,
compassionate society, embracing diversity and multiculturalism – the
very “foundational myth of this country, a mythical heritage of
tolerance that turns on the historical reconciliation of French,
English, and Aboriginal peoples.” In fact, the reality unmasks the
mythology. Mohamed Harkat is one of many prime examples, an innocent man
victimized for political advantage, so far denied due process and
judicial fairness.

Detailed information about him can be found at justiceforharkat.com.

Algerian born, he emigrated to Canada in 1995 at age 28, settled in
Ottawa, worked as a gas station attendant and pizza delivery man, met
his future wife, and now together seek justice and an end to their
ordeal.

In 1997, he got refugee status after successfully arguing that
Algerian authorities would persecute him. Could he have imagined in
Canada as well, nominally democratic with its Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, stating:

“Everyone has the following freedoms:  freedom of conscience and
religion;  freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including
freedom of the press and other media of communication;  freedom of
peaceful assembly; and  freedom of association.”

Its Article 7 assures everyone “the right to life, liberty and
security of person and the right not to be deprived thereof in
accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

By persecuting the innocent, Canada, like America, defiles its
principles, laws, and fundamental human rights and values, a clear sign
of emerging fascism under which all rights are lost. No one is safe when
state power goes unchallenged, the fast track both countries now
pursue, inventing threats to advance it while destroying civil liberties
and freedom.

Harkat was victimized, his nightmare beginning on December 10, 2002 —
Human Rights Day worldwide to commemorate the 1948 UN General
Assembly’s adoption of Universe Declaration of Human Rights adoption,
48-0 with eight abstentions, from Stalinist Russia, Eastern bloc states
he controlled, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Based on alleged terrorist links to Al Qaeda and the Armed Sayyaf
Group (GIA), Harkat was arrested and imprisoned for the next
four-and-a-half years under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection
Act provision pertaining to the “security certificate” process. It lets
authorities detain and/or deport foreign nationals and other
non-citizens suspected of human rights violations, alleged threats to
national security, or claimed affiliation with organized crime, using
secret evidence withheld from defense counsel.

In place since 1978, the process is secretive and disturbing in cases
where alleged charges are determined too sensitive to disclose. Since
1991, 27 residents have been affected. In February 2007, Canada’s
Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Charkaoui v. Canada.

Then in October 2007, the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill C-3
(a so-called anti-terror measure), amending the Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act by introducing a special advocate into the certificate
process on the pretext of protecting subjects during secret proceedings.

That and other provisions are troubling, including indefinite
detentions, whether or not charged, draconian house arrest with
continuous monitoring and surveillance, and deportations to despotic
states, ensuring torture, imprisonment or death, the reason subjects
fled to Canada in the first place, believing they’d be safe.

The special advocate provision is reprehensible, providing legal
cover for a fundamentally unjust process designed to stigmatize, vilify,
convict or deport targets to oblivion, at the same time pretending it
protects national and public security.

The bill mocks the rule of law and judicial fairness, yet got Royal
Assent on February 13, 2008. It targets human and civil rights
advocates, anyone against illegal wars and homeland repression, and
creeping fascist governance. It denies their presumption of innocence
and right to judicial fairness in open proceedings with full disclosure
of the facts.

Once issued, Federal Courts conduct secret proceedings, subjecting
victims to draconian injustice. Later they’re given unclassified
summaries of whatever the presiding judge considers appropriate, another
fundamentally troubling procedure to withhold vital facts from the
defense.

During proceedings, special advocates represent authority, not
subjects. They may examine government claims, cross-examine witnesses,
call their own, make submissions to the Court, and communicate with, and
hear testimony from, named subjects until they see the Court-approved
information and can rely on counsel.

The government claims it’s to defend national and public security, as
well as core principles under the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, international law, and fundamental human rights precepts.
Victims like Harkat disagree, saying it persecutes innocent residents
like himself, for his religion and ethnicity, the common American
practice supplemented by racist media-hyped fear.

Harkat is one of Canada’s Secret Trial Five — five Muslim men,
bogusly arrested, then shamelessly persecuted for political advantage.
He wasn’t charged, was imprisoned on secret evidence, denied bail, held
mostly in solitary confinement, prevented from contacting family or
friends, and under Canadian law can’t appeal a judge’s ruling by order
of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). Yet he was never
before charged, convicted of a crime, or even suspected of one.

On March 31, 2004, Amnesty International (AI) directed an open letter
to Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, expressing grave “concerns with
respect to the security certificate provisions that have been part of
Canada’s immigration legislation for a number of years” — a process
“resulting in violations of a number of fundamental human rights.”

AI urged that “immediate steps (be taken) to bring (the process) into
full compliance with Canada’s international human rights obligations.”
It cited Canada’s responsibilities under its Immigration and Refugee
Protection Act in s. 3(3)(f), requiring the law to be “construed and
applied in a manner that complies with international human rights
instruments to which Canada is a signatory.”

No action was taken. Harkat and others remain vulnerable.

On May 23, 2006, he was granted bail, transferred to house arrest
under electronic monitoring and round-the-clock supervision, but faces
deportation he’s struggling to prevent.

Last September, Justice Simon Noel eased his bail conditions, ending
his phone monitoring, mail, curfew, in-and-outside home video
surveillance, and requirement that visitors need official approval. He
must still wear a GPS monitor, report in weekly, and travel unsupervised
only in the Ottawa area.

Two Hopeful Signs

In October, the Federal Court of Canada annulled Adil Charkaoui’s
security certificate, another bogusly targeted victim. Arrested but not
charged in 2003, he was kept under draconian house arrest for nearly two
years, then very restrictive bail conditions until February 20, 2009.
On March 24, 2010, he sued the federal government for $24.5 million in
damages to restore his lost reputation. The case against him was never
disclosed.

In December 2009, the Federal Court voided Hassan Almrei’s security
certificate, Justice Richard Mosley stating:

Having considered all the information and other evidence
presented to the Court, I am satisfied that Hassan Almrei has not
engaged in terrorism and is not and was not a member of an organization
that there are reasonable grounds to believe has, does or will engage in
terrorism. I find that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that
(he’s) a danger to the security of Canada (so) find the the certificate
is not reasonable and must be quashed.”

Final Comments

On April 1, the Ottawa Citizen’s Mohammed Adam headlined,
“Harkat terror case takes a serious hit,” saying:

“US report says his reputed al-Qaeda associate (Abu Zubaydah)
actually had no ties to the terrorist group.”

Writing in the Los Angeles Times on April 30, his co-counsel, Joseph
Margulies, assistant director of Northwestern School of Law’s Roderick
MacArthur Justice Center, detailed what he endured, appalling torture
from the time of his 2002 arrest in Pakistan – how America treats
alleged terrorists, inflicting enough pain to force confessions, then
saying they came voluntarily to convict.

The Bush administration called him a senior Al Qaeda figure, George
Bush saying he was one of their “top three leaders (and) chief of
operations.”

“First, they beat him. As authorized by the Justice Department and
confirmed by the Red Cross, they wrapped a collar around his neck and
smashed him over and over against a wall. They forced his body into a
tiny, pitch-dark box and left him for hours. They stripped him naked and
suspended him from hooks in the ceiling. They kept him awake for days.”

Then they waterboarded him 83 times — the procedure inducing
suffocation and panic. CIA torturers ordered him wrung dry, perhaps
taking him to the brink of death and back, what was done repeatedly to
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, the bogusly
charged 9/11 mastermind who endured intense torture over an extended
period, effectively turning him to mush and getting him to say anything
to stop the pain.

In Zubaydah’s case, he “was nothing like what the president believed.
He was never Al Qaeda,” journalist Ron Suskind asserted in his 2006
book, “The One Percent Doctrine”, the first to describe him as “a minor
logistics man, a travel agent,” a man the Justice Department later
admitted in an April 2010 court filing had no “direct role in or advance
knowledge of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” nor was he
an Al Qaeda member or “formally” identified with the organization.

Yet the Obama administration still detains him, claiming he
“supported enemy forces and participated in hostilities (and)
facilitat(ed) the retreat and escape of enemy forces” after America’s
2001 Afghanistan invasion, charges as bogus as about Al Qaeda and his
involvement in 9/11.

Detained or free, he sustained permanent damage. “Abu Zubaydah paid
with his mind” and more. “Today, he suffers blinding headaches and has
permanent brain damage. He has an excruciating sensitivity to sounds,
hearing what others do not. The slightest noise drives him nearly
insane. In the last two years alone, he has experienced about 200
seizures.”

He can’t remember his mother’s face or father’s name. His humanity
was willfully destroyed, the same fate many others endured — Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, Jose Padilla, and Aafia Siddiqui three of the most
prominent.

One of Harkat’s lawyers, Norm Boxall, called the new Zubaydah
information significant, saying it destroys a key part of the
government’s case. Zubayah’s attorney, Brent Mickum, said the:

government’s accounts frequently have been at variance
with the actual facts, and the government has been loath to provide the
facts until forced to do so.” Then after gotten through discovery, “it
realized that the game was over and there was no way it could support
the Bush administration’s baseless allegations.

Canadian government lawyers have the information, but so far haven’t
commented on how it impacts their case or what’s next.

Harkat’s lawyers called it another plus for their client, saying it
“follow(ed) the February release from US custody of Hadje Wazir, a
Harkat associate whom CSIS has characterized as Osama bin Laden’s ‘money
handler.’ Last year, the case was rocked by the revelation that three
CSIS witnesses failed to reveal that a key informant failed a
lie-detector test.”

Yet CSIS claims Harkat was a Zubayah “intermediary,” even though it’s
untrue, and he denied in federal court in 2004 that he ever met or knew
him.

“The new information came to light in court the same day that defence
(sic) lawyer, Matt Webber, blasted the credibility of CSIS, accusing it
of ‘egregious breaches’ of Harkat’s rights that bring into question the
administration of justice,” citing numerous abuses including: 
“violation of solicitor-client privilege;  unlawful detention; 
destruction of documents and unlawful search; and seizure of documents,”
calling all of them “profound,” showing Canadian justice is just as
tainted, shameful, odious, and reprehensible as America’s.

Nonetheless, Harkat’s struggle continues. Closing arguments in his
security certificate hearing are scheduled from May 31-June 3 at the
Supreme Court of Canada Building, 301 Wellington Street, East Courtroom
in Ottawa, beginning at 10AM. It may be months before a final decision
is announced.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site
and listen to The Global Research News Hour on
RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for
cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are
archived for easy listening. Read other
articles by Stephen
.

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