An immigration judge has ruled the Iraq-based Mujahedeen-e-Kalq (MEK) is a terrorist organization, raising questions about
An immigration judge has ruled the Iraq-based Mujahedeen-e-Kalq (MEK) is a terrorist organization, raising questions about why the group has not been banned under Canada's anti-terrorism law.
Ruling in the case of a Toronto refugee who spent six years at an MEK camp in Iraq, the Immigration Appeal Division ordered the man deported for his membership in a terrorist group.
"In my opinion, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the appellant was a member of the MEK, an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe is or was engaged in terrorism," the ruling says.
Despite the finding, the MEK is not among the 31 designated terrorist groups outlawed by federal Cabinet order. The group has long been banned under U.S. counter-terrorism law.
Amy Jarrette, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Solicitor-General, said Canada had ordered banks to freeze the assets of the MEK, but had not placed it on the terrorist list. She would not explain why, but said the list was "a work in progress."
Also known as the People's Mujahedeen, the MEK is a Marxist-Islamic terrorist group responsible for hijackings, suicide attacks and bombings. MEK agents have been caught in Canada.
It got international attention in June when its exiled leader, Maryan Rajavi, was arrested in France, prompting supporters, including a young Canadian, to immolate themselves in protest.
Under the new Anti-Terrorism Act, Cabinet is allowed to keep a list of terrorist groups whose activities are deemed criminal. So far, the MEK has not made the list, as niether have several other notorious terrorist groups, such as the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka.
"The history of the MEK is one of violence," immigration judge Gladys MacPherson ruled, adding Saddam Hussein had allowed "several thousand" fighters to operate in Iraq, some of the armed with tanks and helicopters.
Ms. MacPherson was ruling in the case of Ahmad Fani, a refugee. Mr. Fani was born and raised in Iran in a middle-class family. He was a teenager when the Shah was deposed in the 1979 Islamic revolution. His parents sent him to Kuwait.
In 1987, he became active in the MEK and flew to Baghdad, where he was taken to Hanif Camp. He went next to a training camp in Kut before he was assigned to Camp Ashraf, the headquarters of the National Liberation Army of the MEK.
He said he was involved in only a single battle, a 1990 fight along the Iran-Iraq border. He was ordered to deliver supplies to the front and to bring wounded soldiers back to camp, he said.
Although Mr. Fani claimed he worked only as a driver and translator, the ruling said he was an active member at a time the MEK was involved in such terrorist attacks as a 1992 assault on the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. "He denied that he was a soldier but this statement is not consistent with previous statements and testimony," Ms. MacPherson wrote. "I find that it was more likely than not that he was a soldier."
In 1992, he left Iraq and made his way to Canada with the aid of smugglers. He was accepted as a refugee in 1996, but three years later immigration officials began deportation proceedings against him for his suspected involvement in the MEK. He has been fighting to stay in Canada since then.
Douglas Lehrer, Mr. Fani's Toronto lawyer, declined to comment. The 19-page decision was quietly handed down almost three months ago, but Mr. Fani has not yet been deported.
Tsering Nanglu, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said she could not comment on why Mr. Fani was still in Canada, but said removing terrorists and serious criminals was a government priority.
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