Abdullah Almalki

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Abdullah Almalki
Abdullah Almalki.JPG
Almaki after his release
ArrestedMay 3, 2002
Syrian Police
ReleasedMarch 2004
Detained atFar' Falastin

Abdullah Almalki ( عبدالله المالكي) (born 1971) is a Syrian-Canadian engineer who was imprisoned and tortured for two years in a Syrian jail after Canadian officials falsely indicated to the Syrian authorities and other countries that he was a terrorist threat.

Almalki has since returned to Canada, where he lives with his wife and five children.

In March 2017, the Canadian government issued an official apology to Almalki and his family.

On October 21, 2008 the Commission of Inquiry Into The Action Of Canadian Officials In Relation To Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati And Muayyed Nureddin, released its report which cleared Almalki of any wrong doing and found that the Canadian government was complicit in his torture in Syria. Following this report and its findings, in 2009 the Canadian Parliament passed a motion calling on the Canadian government to issue an apology to Almalki, compensate him and correct the miss-information that it shared about him and his family national and international.


Almalki was born in Syria and emigrated to Canada with his parents and three brothers in 1987 at the age of 16. He graduated from Ottawa's Lisgar Collegiate Institute two years later, and the following year received his Canadian citizenship.[1]

He attended Carleton University and obtained his degree in electrical engineering, and was consistently scoring at the top of his class.[1]

Work in Afghanistan[edit]

In 1992, Almalki sponsored an Afghan orphan through a Canadian NGO, and decided to travel to the country for three months. The following year, he returned for two months to volunteer with Human Concern International, in projects funded by the United Nations Development Programme.[1][2]

Upon returning to Canada, Almalki married Kuzaima in October 1993, who was pursuing her Ph.D. in Economics. The couple returned to Pakistan to work with HCI.[1] However, the organisation had brought back Ahmed Khadr as their regional director, after he recuperated from an earlier injury, and Almalki found his leadership and workaholic tendencies to be overbearing, and left the organisation in April 1994, earlier than intended.[1]

Return to Canada[edit]

The Mango Cafe in Ottawa

In 1997, Maher Arar listed Almalki as his "emergency contact" with his landlord.[3]

In 1998, when he returned to Canada to open an electronics export business Dawn Services with his wife, he was questioned twice by Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent Theresa Sullivan, who asked him to "speculate" about Khadr's possible relations to Islamic militants, whether he had ever sold nuclear material to Pakistan, or walkie-talkies to the Taliban - all of which Almalki said seemed like ridiculous claims.[1][4][5]

In 1999, he expanded his business to take on four employees and rent office space in a business park, while beginning to import cellphones to supplement his earnings.[1]

In 2000, and again following the September 11, 2001 attacks, CSIS agent Violaine Pepin spoke to him to ask about a Muslim associate with a pilot's license with whom Almalki had flown to Hong Kong in 1999 to sell radios in the final weeks of Y2K.[1][4]

After Maher Arar had moved back to Ottawa, he had a meeting with Almalki on October 12, 2001. They met at the Mango Café, a popular shawarma restaurant in a strip mall and talked about doctors and bought a print cartridge together.[6] The following month, Almalki flew to Malaysia to visit his mother-in-law.[4]

In January 2002, Almalki was one of seven targets of simultaneous search warrants by Project O Canada, and faxes detailing the sale of field radio components to Mohamad Elzahabi's brother, which were later entered as evidence by American prosecutors who had obtained it from Project O Canada.[5]

Arrest in Syria[edit]

On May 3, 2002, Almalki arrived in Syria for the first time since he was a child, to visit his ill grandmother.[4] Upon his arrival he was arrested on suspicion of terrorist connections.[4] His arrest was based on information sent to the Syrians by the Canadian government.

During the time Almalki was in a Syrian jail, he was not asked anything related to Syrian interests. Most questions were about his life in Canada. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shortly after Arar's release from Syria, Arar described encountering Almalki in prison, weak, emaciated and suffering from the effects of torture.[7] Almalki gave up the name of an Ottawa colleague named Arward Al-Bousha to end the torture, and al-Bousha was subsequently arrested, interrogated and gave up the name of Maher Arar.

Almalki was released on $125 bail in March 2004 and the Syrian State Supreme Security Court acquitted him of all charges in July 2004. Almalki returned to Canada after the acquittal.

Almalki's case was taken up by many organizations in Canada, including Amnesty International. The Canadian government convened an inquiry into the role Canadian authorities may have had in his case.[8] The inquiry also includes the role of Canadian officials into the cases of Ahmad Abouz-zElmaati and Muayyed Nureddin. The Canadian government inquiry into the Arar affair indicated that the Canadian government had sent questions to Syrian military intelligence for use in his interrogation.

According to historian Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, Almalki described three of his fellow captives in Syria's Palestinian Branch military prison: Omar Ghramesh, Abu Abdul Halim Dalak and a Syrian teenager who was captured during the same raid where Abu Zubaydah was captured, who Worthington concluded was Noor al-Deen.[9][10]

On June 18, 2009, the Canadian House of Commons Public Safety Committee voted to urge the Prime Minister to issue an official apology to and to provide compensation to Almalki, el-Maati and Nureddin.[11] Three Muslim Canadian men, detained and tortured in the Middle East during the security clampdown that followed 9/11, will get $31.25 million from the federal government.July 2017


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pither, Kerry. "Dark Days: The Story of Four Canadians Tortured in the Name of Fighting Terror", 2008.
  2. ^ Abdullah Almalki: A brief biography Archived 2006-05-14 at the Wayback Machine, Amnesty International
  3. ^ Shephard, Michelle, Toronto Star, "Canadian loses bid to sue Jordan", March 1, 2005
  4. ^ a b c d e "Journalism after September 11" (PDF) (in Danish). Djh.dk. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  5. ^ a b Duffy, Andrew. Ottawa Citizen, Almalki linked to US terror trial Archived 2012-11-04 at the Wayback Machine, March 14, 2007
  6. ^ Butler, Don (2006-12-08). "The Arar Chronicles: Person of Interest (Part 1)". Ottawa Citizen. p. A4.
  7. ^ Amnesty International 2004 annual report Archived December 15, 2005, at the Wayback Machine on human rights in Syria
  8. ^ "Sixth Estate Watchlist | Main / Iacobucci Inquiry". Watch.sixthestate.net. 2011-05-24. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-01-22.
  9. ^ Andy Worthington (2009-03-30). "Abu Zubaydah and the Futility of Torture". Future of Freedom Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2009-03-30.
  10. ^ Andy Worthington (2008-09-12). "Lost In Guantánamo: The Faisalabad 16". Archived from the original on 2009-12-13.
  11. ^ "Bungling 'terror' cases". Toronto Star. 2009-06-21. Archived from the original on 2009-12-13.

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