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Canada: ‘No concrete evidence’ against suspect held for over three years

By Terri Saunders | Ottawa Sun | February 10, 2010

The Canadian government had little concrete evidence when it declared an Ottawa man a national security threat, an intelligence expert suggested Tuesday.

Wesley Wark, an expert in international intelligence and security, told a federal court he believes officials with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had little to go on when they arrested and jailed Mohamed Harkat in 2002 and kept him in jail for three-and-a-half years on a security certificate.

CSIS officials have already testified they considered Harkat, an Algerian native who came to Canada as a refugee in 1995, a threat to national security based on information Harkat had ties to international terrorist organizations such as an Egyptian Islamic group, Le Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA) and Al-Qaida.

Wark said the CSIS report that forms the basis of the government’s case against Harkat contains “no concrete evidence” Harkat was associated with any known terrorist organizations, pointing out some of their allegations against him are based solely on media reports.

“It’s like trying to grab at thin air,” said Wark. “It’s a paper trail you can’t follow.”

Wark pointed to one source the CSIS report cites to show Harkat’s connection to the Egyptian group known as AGAI — an Italian news article which reported an address book found at a safehouse during an investigation into a French terror cell contained the name Mohamed Adnani, one of the names CSIS claims Harkat used as an alias.

Wark said he found nothing in the report which proved such an allegation.

“There’s no explanation as to why they believe Adnani and Harkat are one and the same person,” said Wark. “Harkat never spent time in Egypt. How he would have become a member of AGAI is not explained.”

Wark also suggested the government’s assertions Harkat was sent to Canada as an Al-Qaida sleeper agent are not supported by evidence. He said there’s no clear link between Harkat and Osama Bin Laden’s core network or any affiliated terrorist groups.

“Very little evidence has come to light in the post-9/11 world that sleeper cells do exist,” said Wark. “The fear they might exist is understandable, but evidence is an entirely different thing. With time, you have to wonder if that fear was reasonable.”

terri.saunders@sunmedia.ca

February 10, 2010 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, False Flag Terrorism

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