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Canada Arrests 19 Pakistanis After Probe

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    Third man in suspected terrorist roundup released from detention on bail


    TORONTO (CP) - A Pakistani doctor who's among 21 men arrested in a federal probe of suspected al-Qaida activities became the third person to be released on bail after a detention review Wednesday determined there aren't reasonable grounds to keep him in custody.

    Muhammad Naeem, 34, was ordered released on $15,000 bail by Mary Ann Stoddart, the member of the Immigration and Refugee Board overseeing the review. Stoddart said although Naeem engaged in questionable activities such as having documents listing two different addresses as his residence, his behaviour "is not special or unusual" among potential new immigrants.

    While the Immigration Department is taking reasonable steps to investigate Naeem, there appear to be no grounds to suspect he poses a security threat or would fail to appear for a hearing to determine if he should remain in Canada, Stoddart ruled in releasing Naeem to live with Toronto taxi owner Akbar Ali Virk, who posted his bail.

    Naeem joins Mohammad Akhtar and Saif Ullah Khan as the only suspects released from detention in reviews held over the past week. Many of the suspects in the public reviews failed to win release, while four other suspects had their reviews held in private, so their names and details of their cases can't be released.

    Tariq Shah, lawyer for Naeem and Akhtar, said the release of the three men signals there's little evidence linking them with any illegal activities.

    "Now the members (of the immigration board) realize there is no hard evidence against them," Shah said in an interview. "Immigration officials have completely failed to connect my clients to the allegations they have levied."

    All the suspects have been held at the Maplehurst correctional facility in Milton, Ont., on suspicions they are members of an al-Qaida terrorist cell whose activities included taking measurements of landmarks such as the CN Tower, and staking out the Pickering, Ont., nuclear power plant.

    No charges have been laid in the investigation, but under tough new immigration laws, arrests can be made simply on the basis of having a reasonable suspicion that someone poses a security threat.

    In his review, Naeem was described as a self-employed Pakistani doctor who came to Canada in November 2001 to upgrade his medical qualifications.

    Naeem testified that he registered his driver's licence and other car papers using a Hamilton address to avoid paying higher insurance rates as a result of living in Toronto.

    Edith DeCaire, the federal government's counsel, said Naeem was among many of the other men arrested in the probe who possessed forged documentation claiming they enrolled in the defunct Ottawa Business School.

    DeCaire added that some of the evidence involving Naeem is likely among the 25 boxes of documents and other materials that are currently being catalogued by RCMP and immigration officials.

    The review was also told that during the RCMP bust of 19 of the suspects on Aug. 14, pictures of airplane schematics and guns were found on Naeem's apartment wall.

    However, Shah, who represents seven of the 21 men arrested in the Project Thread probe, told Stoddart that Naeem's arrest was based simply on his ethnicity, which is "unbecoming of Canada."

    Shah also said some of his clients have been moved into their own cells at Maplehurst because they've been attacked by other inmates.

    As a result of the attacks, said Shah, his clients have been moved to cells away from the other inmates.

    A spokesman for the province's Ministry of Public Safety and Security wouldn't comment specifically on the allegations.

    "There have been no incidents at Maplehurst correctional centre prior or subsequent to the 19 detainees being there," Bruce O'Neill said. "There have been no incidents of attacks."

    Fears of being associated with Project Thread - which also alleges some of the suspects experimented with explosives - also led a man to reconsider his offer to post bail for Imran Younas Khan, who also had his detention review Wednesday.

    Khan, 31, was ordered to remain in detention until Oct. 1 or earlier pending arrangements for his next detention review.

    The reviews continue Friday with one more case, involving Manzoor Qadar Joyia.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    09/3/2003 19:00 EST

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    21st man arrested in terrorist probe, other detainees set for detention review


    TORONTO (CP) - Another man was arrested Tuesday in a massive probe that's highlighted the activities of alleged members of a terrorist cell, bringing to 21 the number of men in detention as a result of Canada's controversial new immigration laws.

    Giovanna Gatti, a spokeswoman for Immigration Canada, confirmed the arrest in an interview, but wouldn't give the man's name.

    "There was a 21st arrest, today sometime, and I can't get into any specific details," Gatti said from her Toronto office.

    Gatti wouldn't comment on reports that the man may be Muddasar Awan, 26. Awan's lawyer, Tariq Shah, said his client had been trying to surrender since Friday, but couldn't because neither he nor his lawyer could contact Immigration Canada.

    Shah, who represents several of the detainees, told the Toronto Star that Awan came to his office Friday wanting to turn himself in to authorities. Shah says he made repeated calls to authorities, but got no response over the Labour Day weekend.

    Also Tuesday, a spokesman with the Immigration and Refugee Board confirmed that Muhammad Nouman, 24, was to appear Wednesday at his first detention review, which under immigration law must be held within 48 hours of an arrest.

    Nouman will join three other men - Muhammed Naeem, Manzoor Qadar Joyia and Imran Younas Khan - in reviews that were adjourned last week when the immigration board began assessing 19 men arrested Aug. 14. They were picked up as part of Project Thread, a joint RCMP-Immigration Canada probe that some experts have hailed as the first real test of Canada's new immigration laws .

    The 21 are among 31 men that immigration officials and RCMP have been trying to round up on suspicions of al-Qaida terrorist links. A federal background document said some of the men were attempting to get schematics and drawings of the CN Tower and other landmarks and were engaging in other suspicious activity.

    Hawkins said he couldn't release any further information about Nouman until his review.

    The reviews involving all the men - who are being held at the Maplehurst correctional facility in Milton, Ont. - are being held out of a downtown Toronto immigration centre. Some of the men appear in person, while others are heard during video teleconferences.

    Two of the men - Saif Ullah Khan, 41, and Mohammad Akhtar, 30 - were released on bail following public reviews last week. Others - including student pilot Anwar ur Rehman Mohammed, deemed suspicious because he regularly flew over the Pickering, Ont., nuclear power plant - were told they would remain in detention.

    The hearings of three other men became private, so details of their cases couldn't be released.

    Hawkins noted the unusualness of hearing so many cases at one time last week as a result of Sec. 58 (1), a 15-month-old provision of the Immigration Act that's made it easier for federal authorities to make arrests.

    "The thing that is so unusual is the sheer volume of doing so many (reviews) in such a short period," he said.

    No charges have been laid against the 20 men, most of whom are originally from Pakistan and are in Canada on student visas. Under the new section, even "reasonable suspicions" that someone may pose a security threat are enough to execute an arrest.

    These cases are the first real test of the new immigration provision, which broadened the grounds on which the government can have suspicions of security threats, said Howard Adelman, founder of York University's Centre for Refugee Studies in Toronto.

    The provision is so new that it may be the first time adjudicators hearing the current detention reviews are dealing with it - possibly one reason why some of their decisions have been so varied, said Adelman, a former professor in York's philosophy department who's on a visiting fellowship at Princeton University in New Jersey this year.

    "Most laws are written about what you do - i.e. committing a harmful act," he said in an interview. "They're not written about what you might do."

    Adelman added that adjudicators are "political appointees" who may be versed on the new provision, but who may not have experience "putting it into practice."

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    09/2/2003 17:55 EST

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  • 5pts384
    Could it be that they wanted to be the "magnificant 19"?

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  • Smoke20286
    I believe at least one of the suspects was released several days ago

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    20th man arrested as threat to national security
    Last Updated Sat, 30 Aug 2003 7:27:16
    TORONTO - There is a new development in the case of the men detained in Toronto on suspicion of terrorist activities. CBC News has learned that a 20th suspect has now been arrested.

    INDEPTH: Target Terrorism: Cdn.Homefront

    The suspect's name has not been released, but the Immigration Department has confirmed the development.
    Friends and acquaintances of the man say he's in his late 20s, and comes from Pakistan. They say he was arrested at a grocery store where he works.

    JOIN THE DISCUSSION: Share your thoughts on this story

    So far, two of the men arrested in the case have been ordered released on bail. The others are being kept in detention on suspicion they may be threats to national security.

    The men were arrested in the Toronto area almost two weeks ago. The RCMP is investigating allegations that they are part of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell operating in Canada.

    The first 19 men taken into custody are all students who came to Canada from Pakistan and India illegally.

    They are being held on immigration violations. The RCMP is also investigating whether the men had experimented with explosives.

    Earlier this week the Muslim Canadian Congress said it wants the men released. "It is criminal and illegal. And racial profiling as a practice must be abandoned on the principle that non-discrimination and equality are fundamental human rights," said Amina Sherazee, a lawyer with the group.

    Authorities says they are not violating any laws. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the rules were changed so that officials only had to suspect someone of being a threat before they could be detained.

    Written by CBC News Online staff

    The accused, who will appear again before the Immigration and Refugee Board next week, are alleged to have lied about their status and gained or maintained their status in Canada fraudulently.
    So they haven't broken any laws have they??

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  • LadyCapn
    He also said the preliminary information is flimsy and called it "unreasonable" to continue to detain them.
    I agree, by all means, put them on a plane and send them back home

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    Vulnerability of Ont. nuclear plants to terrorist air attack called serious


    TORONTO (CP) - Top government and public safety officials expressed concern Friday over the vulnerability of Ontario's nuclear power plants to a potential terrorist attack from the air.

    The concern arose after Canadian authorities arrested 19 people with suspected terrorist links, including one enrolled in a flight school where training involves flying over the Pickering nuclear power plant.

    Two other accused were once found loitering outside the facility before dawn.

    "It certainly gives one cause for concern, there's no doubt about that," said Premier Ernie Eves, adding security at nuclear facilities is a federal responsibility.

    However, there are no special restrictions on flying over nuclear plants, something the province would be unable to enforce anyway, said Eves.

    The arrests carried out by police from several forces acting in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada took place throughout the Toronto area last week.

    There have been no criminal charges, the RCMP said Friday.

    Federal government officials say there's no indication any of the arrested were about to commit a terrorist act when apprehended.

    "There is currently no known threat to national security related to this investigation," said Dan Brien, spokesman for Solicitor General Wayne Easter.

    "But the RCMP is continuing its inquiries into possible terrorist threats."

    An intelligence document presented at a detention-review hearing this week shows most of those arrested after a seven-month investigation were refugee claimants and had been "students" of the Ottawa Business College, which investigators said was "not a legitimate school."

    The document obtained by The Canadian Press shows one man raised suspicion because he is taking lessons to qualify as a commercial multi-engine pilot. His flight path for training purposes is over the Pickering nuclear power plant just east of Toronto.

    "His instructors have described him as an unmotivated student," the document states.

    Police found two of them outside the gates of the plant at 4:15 one morning in April last year.

    The men asked for access, saying they wanted to get to the beach, the document shows.

    James Young, Ontario's public safety commissioner, said a lot of work was done on beefing up security at the four nuclear facilities in the province after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. That's when hijackers flew fuel-engorged jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

    Young said plant employees were subjected to stricter screening, more armed guards were put in place and entry to sensitive areas was severely limited.

    "The problem has remained - and does remain - (in) trying to make them secure in terms of flyovers," said Young. "It's a major problem."

    Part of the difficulty is that Ontario's nuclear plants, such as Pickering just east of Toronto, are in populated areas and under flight paths for commercial and other planes. Trying to enforce no-flight zones over the plants would have to involve a major commitment from the military, he said.

    Young called the chance of a successful air strike on a nuclear plant "minimal."

    "Much of the structure you'd want to get at is in fact not accessible from the air," he said.

    All but one of the accused are from, or have connections to, the Punjab province in Pakistan.

    "These people have remained linked to each other in Canada, either by place of residence or other means of contact," the document states.

    The accused, who will appear again before the Immigration and Refugee Board next week, are alleged to have lied about their status and gained or maintained their status in Canada fraudulently.

    All entered Canada before Sept. 5, 2001 and some have been in the country for more than five years.

    Mohammed Syed, the lawyer for two of the men, said he has had difficulty getting information on the precise allegations against his clients.

    "My understanding is that (investigators) have three van loads of evidence - or what they call evidence - they have to sift through," Syed said.

    He also said the preliminary information is flimsy and called it "unreasonable" to continue to detain them.

    The Canadian Press, 2003

    08/22/2003 22:16 EST

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  • RspctFrmCalgary
    started a topic Canada Arrests 19 Pakistanis After Probe

    Canada Arrests 19 Pakistanis After Probe

    .c The Associated Press

    TORONTO (AP) - Canadian authorities arrested 19 Pakistanis on immigration charges after a seven-month investigation found they may have posed a threat to national security, officials said Friday.

    The 19 men, aged 18 to 33, were arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Aug. 14 in Toronto, Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Michelle Paradis said.

    The intelligence arm of Canada's immigration department drafted a document after the men were arrested that said most entered Canada as students from Pakistan's Punjabi province and faked documents to keep their immigration status.

    The document showed that some of the men allegedly took flying lessons and once tried to enter the grounds of a nuclear reactor. Airplane schematics were found in their apartments.

    ``There is a reasonable suspicion that these persons pose a threat to national security,'' the document said.

    The document said one of the men was enrolled in flying lessons that took him over the Pickering nuclear power plant, about 20 miles east of Toronto. One of his instructors reported that the one-year course was taking him more than three years to complete.

    Two others were turned away from the gates of the plant after claiming they wanted to take a shortcut through the site to walk on the beach in April, 2002.

    The document also said an address used by one of the men was linked to the theft of a nuclear gauge, a device used in construction and containing the cesium-137. The highly radioactive material could be used to make a dirty bomb.

    According to the document, the men lived a threadbare existence, often only furnishing their apartments with a mattress and a computer.

    The men entered Canada between January, 1998, and Sept. 5, 2001, according to the document.

    Officials began investigating the men when one sought permanent residence in Canada while claiming to attend the Ottawa Business College. Investigators learned the school was fake and the man had $40,000 in Canadian dollars in the bank but no job.

    08/22/03 20:52 EDT

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