Every time I see the name Mohamed Harkat in the news, I am reminded of that great country-and-western song, "How Can I Miss You When You Never Go Away."
Harkat is the Algerian refugee detained by Canada in 2002 due to his links to terrorist groups and activities. Along with four other people, Harkat was detained under Canada's security certificate program which, instead of expediting his removal as intended, has resulted in never ending delay.
Harkat has repeatedly and recently been deemed inadmissible on security grounds but the hold up on removal is his claim that he'd be at risk of being roughed up if returned to Algeria. But Algeria formally agreed he will not be subject to abuse and Canadian officials have a lawful intercept of him discussing going back there to get a second wife.
In a 2010 ruling, a judge found that Harkat "maintained contacts and assisted Islamist extremists, and used some methodologies typical of a 'sleeper agent.'
Federal Court Judge Simon Noel agreed that officials have "reasonable grounds to believe Mohamed Harkat has engaged in terrorism, is a danger to the security of Canada and is a member of the Bin Laden Network."
Harkat was back in the news last week seeking looser bail conditions. As I read the media reports, it struck me that the case of Djamel Ameziane, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee that Canada denied refugee status to in 2000, who later went to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he was captured by U.S. forces, might be relevant.
This is the guy that Dennis Whitling, one of Omar Khadr's lawyers, is helping to sue Canada because our people interviewed him twice while in Guantanamo Bay.
Disproving a theoretical situation is difficult but comparing it to a real case is useful. Ameziane has even greater terrorist stain, captured as he was and detained in Guantanamo for a decade plus. But wait, he's filed his lawsuit against Canada from where he now safely resides which is ... Algeria. If Ameziane is okay there, then why wouldn't Harkat be okay?
This might be useful factual information in moving the removal process along. Who knows, we might just end up humming "Hit the Road Jack."