Mohammed Harkat back in the news

Every time I see the name Mohammed Harkat in the news, I am reminded of an old country-and-western song, “How Can I Miss You When You Never Go Away”.

Harkat is the Algerian ‘refugee’ who was detained in Canada in 2002 on security grounds due to his links to terrorist groups and activities. Along with four other people, Harkat was detained under Canada’s supposedly specialized ‘security certificate’ program which, instead of expediting his removal as intended, has resulted in never-ending delay.

Harkat has repeatedly and recently been deemed inadmissible on security grounds, but the holdup on removal is his claim that he'd be at risk of being roughed up if returned to Algeria. Even though we have a lawful intercept of him discussing going back there to get a second wife (he can't be too afraid), and the Algerians have formally agreed he will not be subject to abuse, Canada continually delays any decision to remove him.

Harkat was back in the news last week – seeking looser bail conditions. As I read the media reports, it struck me that the case of Djamel Ameziane, a former Gitmo detainee whom Canada denied refugee status to in 2000 and who thereafter went to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he was captured by U.S. forces, might be relevant.

This is the guy that Dennis Whitling, one of Omar Khadr's lawyers, is helping to sue Canada because our people interviewed him twice while in Gitmo.

Disproving a theoretical situation is difficult, but comparing a real case is useful. Ameziane has even greater terrorist stain... captured as he was and detained in Gitmo for a decade plus. But wait... he has filed his lawsuit against Canada from where he now safely resides which is... Algeria. If Ameziane is safe in Algeria, then why wouldn't Harkat be safe there too?

This might be useful factual information in pushing the removal process along. Who knows… we might just end up humming “Hit the Road Jack.”

– Scott Newark is a former Alberta Crown Prosecutor who has also served as Executive Officer of the Canadian Police Association, Vice Chair of the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, Director of Operations to the Washington D.C.-based Investigative Project on Terrorism and as a Security Policy Advisor to the Governments of Ontario and Canada. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the TRSS Program in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University.