Abousfian Abdelrazik

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Abousfian Abdelrazik
Born (1962-01-01) January 1, 1962 (age 56)
Nationality Canada/Sudan
Other names Abu Sufian Abd Al-Razziq
Known for Canadian government withheld travel documents allowing him to return to Canada due to pressure from the USA

Abousfian Abdelrazik or Abu Sufian Abd Al-Razziq (Arabic: أبو سفيان عبدالرازق‎) is a Sudanese-born Canadian dual citizen. On July 23, 2006 the United States Department of the Treasury designated him as a supporter of al-Qaeda and a terrorist, but he was subsequently cleared in multiple investigations by the Sudanese government, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Following his imprisonment in Sudan, the Canadian government would not grant him travel papers and otherwise blocked his return to Canada.[1][2][3] On June 4, 2009, the Federal Court ruled that his citizenship rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated and ordered the Canadian government to facilitate his return. On June 27, 2009, Abdelrazik flew to Canada. Prior to his removal from the list, he was the only living Canadian on the United Nations security council blacklist, usually referred to as the "1267 List" after the number of the Security Council resolution which established it.[4] The 1267 regime imposes sanctions on listed individuals, including a complete asset freeze and a ban on international travel. Upon his return to Canada, he sued the government for C$24-million, and C$3-million more for Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon's alleged "misfeasance in public office." He has also launched a constitutional challenge to legislation implementing the 1267 regime in Canada. Abdelrazik's experience has been said to be similar to other Canadians such as Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin. Abdelrazik claims that he was tortured while in detention in Sudan and the Canadian government has admitted in court submissions that two CSIS agents interrogated him while he was in Sudanese custody.

Abdelrazik was removed from the United Nations security council blacklist on November 30, 2011.[5]


Abdelrazik was born in Sudan on January 1, 1962. He initially trained as a machinist and got married. He was imprisoned for his political views after the 1989 military coup by Omar al-Bashir, and fled to Canada as a refugee in 1990. In 1992 he was granted landed immigrant status. He married a French Canadian woman in 1994, and they soon had a daughter together. He became a Canadian citizen in 1995.[1] Muslims who know him have characterized him as a devout Muslim who "often read the Koran to the sick and was paid as a healer." In an interview with The Globe and Mail he stated that he has traveled to many places including such countries as Pakistan and Bosnia. He states that he was only involved in humanitarian work, to help people. He further stated that, "my humanitarian trips abroad were funded by my religious work as a Muslim healer in Montreal and also through donations from many individuals in the Muslim community".[6] Abousfian felt it necessary to state why he didn't list the names of his supporters in a letter to the editor of The Globe and Mail,"On the urging of my lawyers...I had earned the money by reciting alms. I had not wanted to invite scrutiny of those who paid me, knowing where guilt by association can lead".[7] In 2000, Abdelrazik voluntarily testified via videolink at the trial of Ahmed Ressam, the "millennium bomber".[1] He testified he knew Ahmed Ressam when he met him at the Montreal's Assuna Annabawiah mosque, but had no knowledge of his plans to attack targets in the USA and knew nothing about his whereabouts since he last saw him in Vancouver. In 2001 his first wife died of cancer. While in the Sudan in 2004 his second wife divorced him. He returned to Montreal in June 2009, after Federal Court Justice Russel Zinn ruled that the Canadian government must cease violating his rights by failing to facilitate his return.[8]

Imprisoned and then stranded in Sudan[edit]

In the spring of 2003, Abdelrazik went back to the Sudan. According to Abdelrazik, he returned in order to visit his sick mother, but according to the affidavit of an Abdelrazik associate, he left Canada because of harassment by CSIS agents.[9] In Sudan he was arrested but never charged.[10] According to the Lawyers Weekly, "documents reveal that Sudanese officials arrested him at Canada's request".[11] The People's Commission on Immigration and Security Measures claims that Mr. Abdelrazik was "repeatedly beaten and tortured" in Sudanese custody. In an affidavit this year, he admits to telling his interrogators "what they wanted to hear", whether or not it was true.[12] He was released in July 2004, having been detained since the previous September.[13] His family bought him an airline ticket to Montreal but the airlines refused to transport him because his name had been place on the US no-fly list. Sudan then forced him to live in a police owned and monitored house. In September, his wife in Montreal divorced him, and the following month Abdelrazik married a Sudanese woman, with whom he had a child the following year.[14] On October 10, 2004, Sudan offered Canada to fly him on a private aircraft if the countries shared the cost. Canada informed Sudan that it would not share the costs or provide an escort. On July 26, 2005, Sudan's Minister of Justice issued Mr. Abdelrazik with a formal document exonerating him. We "did not find any evidence'" linking him to terrorism or crime or al-Qaeda".[12] Abousfian was re-arrested in November 2005, and finally released again in July 2006,[8] Shortly after his second release, the UN's 1267 Committee added him to its list of individuals and entities suspected of belonging to or associated with the Taliban and Al-Qaida.[15][16] After his second release, Canada refused to renew his passport or provide him with a travel document, leaving him unable to travel on commercial airlines. Canada went so far as to refuse to allow Sudan to transport him to Canada at Sudan's expense on a Sudanese government aircraft. Government aircraft are exempt from the flight ban list which only applies to commercial airlines. Although his Canadian passport had expired, the Canadian government could have issued temporary travel papers to get him to Canada.[1]

Involvement of Canadian and American intelligence agencies[edit]

CSIS had been interested in Mr. Abdelrazik since 1999 – and perhaps earlier – when he associated with several other Muslim men whose profiles came under suspicion.[17] The Globe and Mail reports that it has acquired documents in contradiction to previous Canadian government statements that it had not requested Abdelrazik's detention. Their report states the documents they obtained show Canada had requested his detention, in 2003. It states Canadian officials had participated in his interrogation in October 2003. In June 2009, the Federal Court of Canada agreed, ruling that, based on the internal government documents it had reviewed, it was probable that Abdelrazik was detained on the request of CSIS. While he was stuck in Sudan, Canadian diplomat Sean Robertson secretly cabled the Canadian embassy personal stating, "Mission staff should not accompany Abdelrazik to his interview with the FBI", and Sudanese intelligence agents.[18] According to Canadian government submissions in a Federal Court case, Abousfian was interrogated by two Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents while in Sudanese detention, under threat of torture and without charge.[8] Canadian official Sean Robertson ordered Canadian ambassadorial staff to not attempt to monitor the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) interrogation, after Abdelrazik had requested that they accompany him to the interrogation. At the interrogation, the FBI threatened that he would "never return to Canada" if he did not agree to work with them.[10] Embassy staff compromised with Abdelrazik and told him they would phone him immediately after the scheduled interrogation was over, but when they called, there was no answer. Meanwhile, however, assurances were being given to Canadian Parliament that he was receiving full consular protection.[10]

During a news conference upon his return to Canada, Abousfian summarized his story of six years of exile. According to Abousfian, CSIS stated that, "Sudan will be your Guantanamo". He also described how a CSIS agent interviewed him before he left for the Sudan and was also his interrogator in the Sudan - a fact that was subsequently admitted by CSIS in court documents. During that interview in 2003 Abdelrazik said that the CSIS agent told him he would "never see Canada again". Abousfian also repudiated every allegation that the US government made against him, including the accusations that he: knew Osama bin Laden, fought in Chechnya, trained in Afghanistan, and was a key al-Qaeda operative.[19] Details have emerged due to the media attention to his case. In May 2009 The Globe and Mail published new reports on the role Canadian authorities played in Abdelrazik's apprehension.[20][21][22][23] On October 29, 2009, Richard Fadden the head of CSIS stated that civil-rights advocates and media present a distorted picture of, "terror suspects are too often portrayed as romantic revolutionaries". He was referring to Abdelrazik and a few other accused suspects. He went on to state,"So why then, I ask, are those accused of terrorist offences often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes despite the harsh statements of numerous judges. Why are they always photographed with their children, giving tender-hearted profiles and more or less taken at their word when they accuse CSIS or other government agencies of abusing them?...A more balanced presentation is what I'm hoping for."

CSIS wiretap and vehicle search[edit]

On August 5, 2011 a La Presse story said that the Montreal newspaper had seen a 4-page document sent by CSIS to Transport Canada in July 2004 and that in it CSIS claimed to have intercepted a Summer 2000 conversation between Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui in which the two men discuss blowing up an airliner flying from Montreal to France. According to La Presse, the CSIS authors also state that traces of RDX were found during a search of Abdelrazik's vehicle in October 2001.[24]

US Pressure on Canada to help arrange Abdelrazik's transfer to Guantanamo[edit]

In September 2011 The Globe and Mail summarized additional documents that had been leaked to them that showed that Canadian authorities had barred his return to Canada because he was listed on a US no fly list.[25] According to The Globe and Mail a listing on a US list should have been insufficient to bar him from returning to Canada, and yet due to this listing, he was stuck in Sudan for a further five years.

The Globe and Mail reported that Canada was under pressure to help the USA get Abdelrazik sent to the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.[25]

Formal designation as a terrorist and addition to UN Security council blacklist[edit]

On July 23, 2006 the United States Department of the Treasury designated Abdelrazik as a supporter of al-Qaeda and a terrorist, "for his high-level ties to and support for al-Qaeda." According to The Globe and Mail, the U.S. State Department believes, "Mr. Abdelrazik was "closely associated with Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden's lieutenant responsible for recruiting and for al-Qaeda's network of training camps in Afghanistan." The United States also alleges Mr. Abdelrazik recruited and accompanied a Tunisian extremist named Raouf Hannachi for paramilitary training at a camp in Afghanistan in 1996 "where al-Qaeda and other UN-sanctioned terrorist groups were known to train," and became personally acquainted with Mr. bin Laden".[26][27] In April 2011, WikiLeaks revealed that a November 2008 U.S. Department of Defense document stated that Abdelrazik had admitted receiving $10,000 from alleged al-Qaeda financier Hassan Zemiri, who was captured in late 2001 in Tora Bora, Afghanistan.[28] However, none of these allegations have been proven in a court of law and Abdelrazik has never been charged with any crime, in Canada or anywhere else in the world. Eight days after he was designated a terrorist by the US, he was added to the UN Security Council terrorist blacklist (not a no fly list) by the U.S. and is now the only living Canadian on that list. According to The Globe and Mail,"any country can nominate anyone they consider to be an islamic extremist. All his personal assets were frozen once he was put on that list.[12] Individuals on the list are subject to a sanctions regime which include an asset freeze and a ban on international travel (but not flight per se). According to a letter sent on April 18, 2008, by the Department of Foreign Affairs to Abousfian Abdelrazik's lawyer, the Canadian government requested the UN's 1267 Committee to remove Abdelrazik from its list of al Qaeda supporters.[29] A request was made to the UN on December 10, 2007, but was vetoed with no explanation eleven days later, meaning that at least one of the 15 members of the Security Council raised an objection. Canada has repeatedly stated that it continues to support removing Abdelrazik from the list, but has not clarified whether it was the country which originally asked for his inclusion.[30] Critics of the blacklist have commented that Abdelrazik's status is typical, since it is far easier to be added to the list than removed.[30]

Further attempts to return and judicial order[edit]

Out of fears for his safety due to growing media attention, on 28 April 2008, Abdelrazik took refuge in the Canadian embassy in Sudan, a situation the Canadian government described as "temporary". Abdelrazik also brought a legal suit against the Canadian government, seeking his return.[31] On April 18, 2008 the director of consular affairs in the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Mr. Abdelrazik, like all Canadian citizens, was entitled to emergency travel documents to return to Canada. Accordingly, on August 26, 2008, Abdelrazik booked a flight to Canada on Etihad Airways, which was willing to fly him despite the fact that his presence on the U.S. no-fly list meant that any airline which transports him will no longer be able to enter U.S. airspace, thus eliminating most international commercial airlines.[2] His flight was due to leave on September 15, 2008, but Abdelrazik was not able to leave Sudan because Ottawa refused to issue him travel documents. (He was issued a special one-use emergency passport valid for only two weeks after his 2004 release, but at the time could not find an airline willing to transport him.)

On March 12, 2009, 115 supporters of Abdelrazik presented a ticket for his flight to the Canadian government. The government's position was that he needed to have a pre-paid flight ticket, but that any Canadian who donated money to purchase such a ticket could be charged under Canadian anti-terrorism legislation implementing the Security Council's sanctions against people on their blacklist. The donors included former solicitor-general Warren Allmand, political science professor at the University of Toronto Joseph Carens, and Canadian peace activist and former Iraq hostage James Loney.[32][33]

On April 3, 2009, this letter was received by Abousfian Abdelrazik's lawyer in Ottawa, Canada. Counsel for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Donna Blois, in a one line letter notifies that the minister has refused to grant an emergency passport pursuant to section 10.1 of the Canadian Passport Order which states: "10.1 Without limiting the generality of subsections 4(3) and (4) and for greater certainty, the Minister may refuse or revoke a passport if the Minister is of the opinion that such action is necessary for the national security of Canada or another country."[34] According to the Lawyer's Weekly, "the government argued that the Charter only guarantees the rights of citizens to enter Canada once they present themselves at the border, and since Abdelrazik is not at the Canadian border, he has no rights."[11]

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee passed a motion requesting Abdelrazik testify before it.[20][35] Member of Parliament Paul Dewar stated the request should require the Government to drop its efforts to block Abdelrazik's return. On May 7 and 8, 2009, the Federal Court heard arguments from Abdelrazik's lawyers, who asked the court to order the federal government to facilitate Abdelrazik's return to Canada. His legal argument was rooted in Section 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states in part that "Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada."

On June 4, Federal Judge Russel Zinn ruled the government had violated his constitutional rights and must fly him to Canada before July 7.[36] Justice Zinn stated that Mr. Abdelrazik, "is as much a victim of international terrorism as the innocent persons whose lives have been taken by recent barbaric acts of terrorists". The Globe and Mail stated, "In a toughly worded 107-page ruling, Justice Zinn pilloried the government's claims of trying to help Mr. Abdelrazik, concluded that Canadian anti-terrorism agents were implicated in his imprisonment in Sudan, denounced the UN terrorist blacklist as an affront to justice and basic human rights and slammed Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon for high-handedly ignoring due process of law".[37] In response to public demands by opposition parties that Ottawa should stop fighting the case, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said government lawyers would need time to review the 107-page decision before deciding on a course of action.

Return and lawsuits against the federal government[edit]

On June 18, 2009, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that the Government of Canada would abide by the court's ruling. Nine days later Abdelrazik flew to Canada. In the fall of 2009 he sued the Canadian government for C$24-million, and C$3-million more for Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon's, "misfeasance in public office." The Hamilton Spectator states that according to Justice Minister Robert Nicholson, "the Harper government spent more than C$800,000 in legal fees fighting a losing battle to keep Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik from coming home".[38] Department of Justice lawyers have claimed Abousfian's lawsuit is meritless because Canadian laws do not apply overseas. The government has characterized the lawsuit as mostly frivolous and vexatious. The government claims that "no such tort has been recognized in Canadian law" that recognizes preventing torture at the hands of others. Abousfian's lawyer stated in response, "I expected the government would approach us about an apology and a settlement, instead they have been entirely unrepentant." The outcome of the case will most likely set several new legal precedents with regards to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[39] In August 2010 the Federal Court granted Abdelrazik the right to sue the federal government. His lawyer Paul Camp stated, "The federal government had sought to block the lawsuit. The government was arguing that individuals could not sue for torture and they were also arguing that there was no legal duty on the Government of Canada to protect Canadians detained abroad." The government has 30 days to appeal the ruling. A government spokesman stated, "...the government is reviewing the decision and reserves comment because of ongoing litigation".[40]

Removal from UN blacklist[edit]

Abdelrazik was removed from the United Nations security council blacklist on November 30, 2011. His lawyer, Paul Champ, indicated that he would submit an official notice to the federal government of the decision and expected that all sanctions against Abdelrazik would be lifted immediately.[5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Paul Koring (April 28, 2008). "Terror claims trap Canadian in Khartoum: Marooned for five years, Abousfian Abdelrazik gets $100 a month from Canada to survive, but no passport or clearance to go home". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2008-04-25.  mirror
  2. ^ a b Paul Koring (September 12, 2008). "Ottawa withholding travel papers for Canadian". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2008-09-17.  mirror
  3. ^ Paul Koring (September 16, 2008). "Ottawa balks at travel permit for man trapped in Sudan". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  4. ^ "Abdelrazik: 'I never hurt nobody. I never did something wrong'". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. September 24, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Nicholas Keung, "Canadian removed from UN terror watch list", Toronto Star, 30 November 2011.
  6. ^ Paul Koring (September 27, 2009). "Abdelrazik's lost years". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2011-09-24. 
  7. ^ "Abdelrazik: no mystery". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. December 1, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c Jim Brown (April 28, 2008). "Ottawa refuses to help Canadian in Sudan: Lawyer". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2011-09-24. OTTAWA–The federal government is being accused of orchestrating the overseas detention of a Canadian citizen suspected of terrorist ties – then letting him languish for years in Sudan even though authorities there found no evidence to support charges against him. 
  9. ^ statement by Samir Ezzine, Charkaoui (Re) (F.C.), 2003 FC 882, (2004) 1 F.C.R. 528 July 15, 2003
  10. ^ a b c Koring, Paul. The Globe and Mail, Ottawa denied Abdelrazik diplomatic assistance, November 25, 2008
  11. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  12. ^ a b c http://www.peoplescommission.org/en/abdelrazik/timeline.php
  13. ^ El Akkad, Omar. The Globe and Mail, Montrealer takes refuge in Canadian embassy, April 29, 2008
  14. ^ Abdelrazik v. AG of Canada, Statement of Claim September 21, 2009
  15. ^ "Security Council Committee Adds One Individual in Al-Qaida Section of Consolidated List, Approves Changes of Information Regarding 25 Individuals". UN Security Counsel. August 2, 2006. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  16. ^ "The New Consolidated List of Individuals and Entities Belonging to or Associated with the Taliban and Al-Qaida Organisation as Established and Maintained by the 1267 Committee". Archived from the original on April 1, 2007. Retrieved June 23, 2009. 
  17. ^ Paul Koring (April 28, 2008). "Terror claims trap Canadian in Khartoum". The Globe and Mail. Toronto.  mirror
  18. ^ Paul Koring (November 25, 2008). "Ottawa denied Abdelrazik diplomatic assistance". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2008-11-25. 
  19. ^ Paul Koring (2009-07-24). "Abdelrazik pleads to clear his name". Toronto: The Globe and Mail.  mirror
  20. ^ a b Paul Koring (2009-05-05). "Canadian agents secretly interrogated Abdelrazik: Papers obtained by The Globe show officials admitted he was jailed in Sudan at the request of mysterious 'Canadian' authorities". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2009-05-05. Newly obtained government documents, now in the possession of The Globe and Mail, also show that in a secret briefing to then foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier, officials admitted as recently as last year that Mr. Abdelrazik had been originally imprisoned in Khartoum at the request of mysterious "Canadian" authorities. 
  21. ^ "A contradiction to be explained". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 2009-05-05. Retrieved 2009-05-05. [dead link]
  22. ^ Raphael Alexander (2009-05-05). "More pieces to the Abdelrazik puzzle". National Post. Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. 
  23. ^ "Abdelrazik questioned by Canadian agents before Ottawa knew his location: report". CBC News. 2009-05-04. Archived from the original on 2009-05-05. 
  24. ^ Pierre-André Normandin Une conversation compromettante entre Charkaoui et Abdelrazik La Presse August 5, 2011
  25. ^ a b Paul Koring (2011-09-22). "CSIS notes reveal how Canadian was kept in exile". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2011-09-23. Margin notes on CSIS documents related to the conversation, marked "Secret" and now in the possession of The Globe and Mail, highlight the fact that Mr. Abdelrazik was only on a U.S. no-fly list – insufficient to keep him from returning to Canada. 
  26. ^ United States Department of the Treasury, Treasury designates Canadian and Sudanese National for Support to al Qaida, July 20, 2006
  27. ^ "Montrealer takes refuge in Canadian embassy". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. April 29, 2008. [dead link]
  28. ^ Colin Freeze and Paul Koring U.S. file alleges Abdelrazik got $10,000 from al-Qaeda-linked financier The Globe and Mail April 29, 2011
  29. ^ "Ottawa trying to get Montrealer off UN terrorist list: report". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. May 2, 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  30. ^ a b "Trying to get off the UN's terrorist list described as 'Kafkaesque'". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. May 16, 2008. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-16. 
  31. ^ "Abdelrazik suing Canada". The Arab American News. May 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  32. ^ Montreal Gazette, This is a vile way to treat a citizen, March 9, 2009
  33. ^ "Supporters defy law, buy plane ticket for Montrealer stuck in Sudan". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. March 12, 2009. Archived from the original on 21 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  34. ^ http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/laws/regu/si-81-86/latest/si-81-86.html
  35. ^ Paul Koring (2009-05-05). "Abdelrazik asked to appear before committee". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  36. ^ "Court orders Ottawa to let Abdelrazik return to Canada". CBC News. June 4, 2009. Retrieved June 4, 2009. 
  37. ^ The Globe and Mail https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/court-orders-ottawa-to-allow-abdelrazik-to-return-to-canada/article1168783/
  38. ^ http://www.thespec.com/Opinions/article/653611
  39. ^ Koring, Paul (February 19, 2010). "Ottawa rejects Abdelrazik claim that CSIS knew he faced torture". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 
  40. ^ "Abdelrazik gets OK to sue Canada". CBC News. September 1, 2010. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010.