The Globe and Mail – June 1, 2011
Quebec has blocked government child-benefit payments to Abousfian Abdelrazik, the only Canadian on the UN’s al-Qaeda blacklist, saying Ottawa must get written permission from the UN Security Council in New York before it will issue the monthly cheques other Canadian parents are entitled to receive. Mr. Abdelrazik is entitled to $183 a month for a preschool-age son, born in Khartoum but who is a Canadian and was repatriated after he returned to Montreal. He has also applied for child-benefit payments for his teenage daughter.
Mr. Abdelrazik has never been charged with a crime in Canada, although he was targeted as a possible al-Qaeda operative and followed by Canadian counterterrorism agents for years. He is the only Canadian on the UN’s terrorist blacklist, called the 1267 list after the number of the Security Council resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, that created it in 1999. He spent nearly six years in forced exile in Sudan, including more than two years in prison where, he claims, he was tortured. He is currently suing the federal government and former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon for $27-million, claiming Canadian agents arranged for his imprisonment in Khartoum and were complicit in his torture.
Canada’s enforcement of UN 1267 sanctions means Mr. Abdelrazik cannot work – because it would be a crime to pay him – and his assets, including the estate of his former wife who died of cancer, have been seized.
Abousfian Abdelrazik ended six years in exile in Sudan, where he faced torture at the hands of Sudanese authorities, several thwarted attempts to return and spent over a year stranded at the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. Mr. Abdelrazik was born in Sudan but fled the country in 1990. He received refugee status in Canada in 1992 and Canadian citizenship in 1995. In 2003, Mr. Abdelrazik traveled back to the country to visit his ailing mother. He was repeatedly imprisoned by Sudanese authorities and tried to return to Canada several times but was denied a passport because he was put on a United Nations no-fly list at the request of the United States.
Both CSIS and the RCMP have said publicly that they have no evidence that Mr. Abdelrazik has been involved in terrorist activities.
Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, poses so grave a threat to Canada that he can’t come back, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon recently announced, abruptly reversing the government’s written promise of an emergency one-way travel document less than two hours before his flight home was to depart from Khartoum.
Abdelrazik was to reach Canada after more than six years of imprisonment and forced exile in Sudan, on a ticket purchased by hundreds of supporters who defied the government’s threat to charge anyone with helping him because he was put on a United Nations terrorist blacklist by the Bush administration.
Instead, two hours before his flight was to depart, government lawyers faxed a one-sentence letter to his lawyers in Ottawa, saying he had been deemed a national security risk and refused travel documents. Abdelrazik responded, “The Harper government says I am an Islamic extremist. This is a lie. I am a Muslim and I pray to my God but this does not make me a terrorist or a criminal.”
Supporters of Abousfian Abdelrazik — a Canadian citizen blacklisted as a terrorist and stranded in Sudan — accused the federal Conservative government of racism for refusing to issue him an emergency passport to fly home to Montreal.
Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon considers Abdelrazik a national security threat. The refusal represents a reversal of the government’s written promise to issue Abdelrazik an emergency passport if he had a paid-for ticket home.
Abdelrazik remains stranded in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum, where he has lived for nearly 11 months. Abdelrazik was added to the list in 2006 by the Bush administration. He has been cleared of any terrorist or criminal involvement by both the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) and CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service).
The news has also created controversy in the House of Commons. “The government is now in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.
Increasing pressure from human-rights groups and members of parliament are calling Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to repatriate Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian labeled as an al-Qaeda threat. Abdelrazik’s situation has improved somewhat as he is now sheltered in a temporary safe haven in the Canadian embassy in Khartoum. He claims to have been beaten and abused during his incarceration, and denies any connection to al-Qaeda or having ever been to Afghanistan. Abdelrazik has not seen his children for nearly five years; he is also on a UN no-fly list.