Skip to comments.Alleged terrorist missing after being deported
Posted on 03/04/2003 2:30:14 PM PST by HAL9000
MONTREAL (CP) - The family of accused terrorist collaborator Mourad Ikhlef said Monday they fear for his life after he went missing following his deportation to Algeria.
Ikhlef, who was flown to Algiers from Montreal on Friday, had claimed he might be killed if he were sent back to his North African homeland. An official with the federal Immigration Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Ikhlef's deportation on Monday, adding the department didn't know his whereabouts.
"I don't know what the situation is," said the official.
"I'm not even going to speculate why he hasn't shown."
Ikhlef's brother, Nabil, said Algerian authorities deny having ever received his brother, adding that the family fears the worst.
"We don't know if they are torturing him or what," Nabil Ikhlef said in an interview from Vancouver.
"(Our family) called the police and they say they don't have him."
Mourad Ikhlef, 35, has said he faces a death sentence in Algeria because of his alleged ties to the Armed Islamic Group. The group has been linked to murders and bombings in a campaign to overthrow the Algerian government and establish an Islamic state.
Mourad Ikhlef has denied any ties to the group.
But a Federal Court judge ruled last March there was reasonable evidence to link Ikhlef to the organization. The government also says Ikhlef was close to convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested at the U.S. border with a trunkload of explosives in 1999.
The Immigration and Refugee Board ordered Ikhlef's deportation last May.
Mourad Ikhlef, who arrived in Canada in 1993 and obtained refugee status, has refuted Canada's claims he advised Ressam on how to handle explosives and use disguises during a foiled plot to blow up Los Angeles airport during millennium celebrations.
He has always maintained he and Ressam were simply neighbours in Montreal.
Nabil Ikhlef said Monday that Canadian officials assured his family Mourad would not be harmed upon his return to Algeria.
The Immigration Department source reiterated the promise.
"They have no reason to be worried," said the source, who would not elaborate.
"We don't just arbitrarily deport people without cause and reason after having given the individual the full benefit of the law."
Ikhlef was unable to defend himself against key elements of the Canadian government's case, which have been kept secret. The government claims that revealing the evidence would compromise sources and evidence-gathering methods.
Ikhlef was in jail throughout his various appeals to stay in the country.
His wife, Houda Omary, said in an interview she only found out her husband had been deported when she arrived at a Montreal detention centre on Saturday and was told he was gone.
Omary, a Montreal university student, added Foreign Affairs officials said they couldn't help her because her husband is not a Canadian citizen.
"They told me he would be in good hands over there," said Omary, 28, who has two young children with Ikhlef.
"The ministers (from Canada and Algeria) had agreed that he wouldn't be badly treated, and that his parents would be notified as soon as he arrived.
"None of that happened."
The federal government has been under fire from Canada's Algerian community since last spring, when it lifted a moratorium on deportations to Algeria.
Algerian-born Canadians, most of whom live in Montreal, staged a sit-in last October at Immigration Minister Denis Coderre's Montreal office, demanding the moratorium be reinstated.
They pointed to the conflict between Algerian security forces and Islamic militants that has claimed more than 100,000 lives since 1992.
But Ottawa says security has improved in Algeria. Prime Minister Jean Chretien visited the country last spring and has promoted it as a good place to do business.
Omary said she last spoke with Ikhlef on Thursday, adding that their son, Abdel Hakim, 5, and daughter Hassa, 3, don't understand why their father is gone.
"I told them he went to Algeria," she said.
"They think he has abandoned them."